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Time to join together

(Cartoon by George Longely)

The Oshawa Express extends its deepest condolences to all of those involved in Sunday’s mass shooting in Toronto. Our thoughts and sympathies are extended to the families and friends of the three people who lost their lives, and the 13 injured, as well as the police and first responders who worked diligently to assist in the aftermath.

The issue of gun violence in the GTA or in Canada for that matter is not a new one. According to numbers from 2012 Statistics Canada, one in five firearm related deaths (21 per cent) were the result of a criminal offence.

Ahead of Sunday’s shooting, gun violence has already been an ongoing issue in Toronto throughout 2018. In fact, less than two weeks prior, the Toronto Police Service implemented a new plan to address the problem, including the placement of 200 more officers across the city.

However, Toronto is not alone when it comes to gun violence, and in order to find a solution, the municipalities in the GTA and their respective police forces need to be working together to find solutions.

According to 2017 statistics from the Durham Regional police, they have seen weapons related offences increase across the region from 2016, including cases of using a firearm in the commission of an offence, and pointing a firearm. Instances of discharging a firearm with intent have remained the same between 2016 and 2017 at nine cases.

There have also been several high profile busts involving firearm seizures in Durham, including a bust in Pickering that seized 33 guns in October 2017.

In June, Durham regional council passed a motion that encouraged the region to work alongside other municipal partners and police forces to address concerns related to the “prevalence and proliferation” of firearm related offences in Ontario.

In the motion, Durham calls for firearm legislation to be reexamined and that the necessary programs to stop the importation of street level guns receive the proper funding and resources.

This is a good place to start, ensuring proper sentences for gun-related crimes are upheld and by giving proper resources to police to address the problem are all good measures to keep in mind.

The motion is also a good sign that our regional council recognizes that this issue is not solely contained to Ontario’s largest city, but crosses municipal boundaries, and shows their openness to work with others to solve the problem. It’s a small step, but extending the olive branch and opening the door for discussions is the start that could lead to potential resources flowing out the other end.

But for now, we all need to give the proper time to heal and grieve for the lives lost. Embroiling new debate and igniting old grievances around gun violence serves no purpose this close to a tragedy.

Take the time to mourn, then take action.