This year alone they’ve killed people like Justin Brunet, Shammal Ramsey, Levis Taylor, and Michael Watson.
Each one deeply personal because each victim has left behind a slew of victims in their path – family, friends and neighbours.
Jodi McFarlane knows.
Taylor was her cousin and since his death – gunned down by two unknown assailants near Birchmount and Sheppard avenues at the rear of Agincourt Mall – she’s seen first-hand the effect on the young man’s mother, Carol.
The dreams she’s had of his life, the grandchildren she hoped to cradle – everything was wiped away by several gunshots.
It didn’t matter what his involvements were. Her son was dead and innocence or guilt had no bearing on her love for her child.
McFarlane supports the move by Mayor David Miller to have the federal government ban hand guns, but fears such a move on private ownership will not do much to solve the violence.
“I don’t think [a ban] would have stopped my cousin from being murdered,” she says. “If people plan on killing you, then they will by any means.”
It’s important to remember that the victims of gun violence are human beings, not statistics or a collection of words found in the newspaper when you open it on the bus in the morning.
Take Ramsey, who was 19 when gunned down at McLevin Avenue and Sewells Road on May 29. Media reports said he was known to police. His family insisted he was no gangster.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. He was a human being.
It may take more human beings to solve the problem.
“My fear is that a handgun ban will make politicians think they have solved the problem,” says Scott Mills, a Toronto Crime Stoppers Community Youth Officer.
“And they will stop putting money and human resources into mentoring programs after school, in the evenings, all night long and all weekend long.”
Being humans, we have disagreements over how this can be solved.
Take Paul Ainslie, for example. The local city councillor supports Miller’s gun ban call, and is willing to criticise the federal government for not doing more to stop guns crossing the border.
But he’s also not happy with the closure of the Scarborough Rifle Association at the Don Montgomery Community Recreation Centre, and the CNRA Handgun Club at Union Station.
“I think all it did was move both clubs out of very tightly controlled facilities and made it easier for firearms to be potentially stolen from their new sites,” Ainslie says.