Toronto left reeling after long weekend gun violence

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Jahvante Smart (L) and Ernest Modekwe Image copyright Courtesy Toronto Police Services
Image caption Jahvante Smart (L) and Ernest Modekwe were both killed in a shooting on 30 June

Officials in Toronto say more will be done to reduce gun violence after 11 people were shot, two fatally, over a holiday weekend.

The weekend of violence included a deadly shooting on Queen Street, a commercial artery, that killed two men and left one woman wounded.

The shooting happened on Saturday just before 8pm local time (12am GMT).

Gun violence in Canada’s largest city appears to be taking place at a higher rate than normal.

So far this year, 29 people have been killed in 208 separate shootings. Gun deaths are up 50% from the same time as last year, according to police statistics.

The two men killed on Saturday were identified as Jahvante Smart, 21, and Ernest Modekwe, 28, both of whom were from Toronto.

Earlier on Saturday, a teenage boy was injured by gunfire around 4:30pm north of the city’s downtown area.

On Sunday, 1 July, as Canadians celebrated their national holiday, Canada Day, four men were wounded in a shooting in the Kensington Market district in the west end.

On Monday, 2 July, two men were wounded in an afternoon shooting in Brampton, a city in the western end of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The most recent shooting took place in the busy King West neighbourhood around 02:45 local time on Tuesday morning. One man was seriously injured.

Image copyright WireImage
Image caption Toronto Mayor John Tory says government is working to reduce the violence

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement that the weekend of gun violence left him “incredibly angry but resolved to work with the police to stamp it out”.

He said he is working to get more police patrolling the streets and with provincial and federal counterparts to target gang violence and gun crime.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford released a statement on Monday saying his “heart goes out to the victims of the shootings in Toronto” over the long weekend.

It is not the first time the city has grappled with gun violence.

The year 2005 was dubbed the “Year of the Gun” after 52 people were killed and 359 wounded in shootings.

Overall shootings declined in the following years before beginning to increase again in 2016.

Jooyoung Lee, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, who specialises in gun violence, says Toronto remains statistically one of the safest cities in North America.

He said the shootings suggest there may be more firearms on the streets than in previous years, which “can escalate the meanings of ordinary conflict” and lead to an increase in gun violence.

In late June, police seized 78 illegal firearms, including 60 handguns from one person who is alleged to have been involved in smuggling them from the US.

In Canada, gun owners must be licensed and undergo a background check. All handguns and many other firearms must be registered.

Gun violence in Canada is lower than in the US but higher than in some other developed countries.

Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were committed with a firearm compared with 31% in Canada.

In Australia, 18% of the murders were committed with guns in 2012 while the UK reported 10%.

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