Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Social and Economic Change Necessary to Curb Gun Violence, Researcher Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Social and Economic Change Necessary to Curb Gun Violence, Researcher Says

Article excerpt

No easy answer to gun violence, Tory says

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TORONTO - Reducing Toronto's escalating gun violence, which has claimed 22 lives so far this year, will require social change and not a police crackdown, politicians and crime researchers say.

Ramping up the number of officers in at-risk neighbourhoods or reinstating controversial police practices like carding will only push crime to new areas and alienate members of the public, University of Toronto sociology professor Jooyoung Lee said.

"The long-term approach is really to address conditions like intergenerational urban poverty and racial discrimination in the labour market, and helping youth of colour -- who are particularly disadvantaged in cities like Toronto -- to get a leg up," said Lee, whose research centres on gun violence and gangs.

Young men are most likely to join gangs between the ages of 14 and 18, as they try to figure out who they are going to be as adults, Lee said.

"They may live in a context where they feel insecure about their safety, whether at the hands of other youth, or at the hands of police officers who they are skeptical of for a variety of reasons."

Eleven people have been shot in Toronto since Friday. Two people from the city's rap scene were killed in a daylight shooting on Queen Street on Saturday -- Jahvante Smart, 21, also known as Smoke Dawg, and Ernest Modekwe, 28, both of Toronto. A woman who was shot in the same incident is expected to recover, police said.

Another four people were injured by gunshots late Sunday in the city's Kensington Market area, and a man was injured Tuesday morning in an apparent drive-by shooting near the downtown core.

Overall, 22 people have been killed by guns in Toronto so far this year. The total number of homicides in the city has been 51 -- a figure inflated by the deadly van attack that killed 10 people in April. …

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