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Gun violence is on the rise in Canada

While the public imagination is often centered on religious conflict, gang violence due to the illicit drug trade is the real driver.

Recently there was tragedy in North Vancouver as we learned that a woman was shot in an alley of a quiet neighbourhood of Lonsdale in North Vancouver. Anita Nguyen, a 32-year-old mother of one was shot, and later died of her injuries outside her place of employment, a food prep company called Feed Me Fit during the 11 o’clock hour. Neighbours heard two shots ring out through the quiet morning and an SUV was spotted rushing away from the scene. An ambulance was called and within moments she was rushed to hospital, which is only two blocks away, with what police referred to as “non-survivable injuries.” Police say that the shooting was targeted, but do not know the full reason for the attack.

 

It is usually quite rare for there to be shootings during daylight hours in my community. I live in Burnaby which is one of the larger cities that make up the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, Canada. In Canada during 2017  there were 13,168 gun deaths with 75% coming from suicide according to a report presented by the CBC. Approximately 2,633 people were killed using a gun in 2017 in Canada. Most of this was the result of rising gang violence, and were targeted hits like the one on Ms. Nguyen.

 

In Canada there were two mass shooting events in 2018, which involved 19 people. On July 22nd, 2018 a man shot and killed one woman, a young girl, and injured 13 others in the Danforth area of Toronto. This attack was seemingly random. Then there was another shooting on August 10th 2018 when a man opened fire in a mall in Fredricton, New Brunswick where four people were killed including two police officers. Again this attack seemed to be completely random.

 

These random attacks create fear in the public due to their unpredictable nature. These news stories can create anxiety, and make people scared to leave the house or not feel comfortable with strangers. When news reports identify the race of shooters, it can also increase racist acts. For example, a terrorist attack done by a certain minority can cause judgement to innocent people coincidentally from the same group. Just recently the attacks on Christian churches in Sri Lanka by Islamic extremists have created further religious tension in their country. Interestingly enough this tension has spilled over into our country, even though these attacks took place far away from Canadian soil. We get news from all over the world and people selectively pay attention to attacks that seem to confirm their stereotypical opinions of a group. People tend to form groups with like minded people in times of crisis and when these attacks happen they tend to create an enemy of the people that belong to a group whose members commit a crime against people they view as similar to themselves, either through religion or skin colour or any other connecting factor.

 

Canada has never seemed to have a problem with gun violence, but is it on the rise? Or are the attacks more public now? Looking at a report released by StatsCan in 2018 you can clearly see the gun related crimes have been steadily increasing since 2013 after seeing years of decline since the 1990s.  

 

Since the increase to mostly tied to gang violence, it is important that we are addressing that in our laws and our law enforcement. We also need to make sure that guns are difficult to get, so that it reduces the possibility of terrible acts happening.

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