Year of the Gun: The Sequel? Perhaps not yet, but there's reason for concern in Toronto

Don’t look now, but suddenly Toronto is not looking quite as safe as some would like to brag.


“I am not going to sugarcoat it like some do,” Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said Tuesday. “There is a lot of violence here.”

But that’s not all he said.

McCormack tweeted Tuesday: “Year of the Gun: The Sequel? 25 shooting deaths Jan-Jul 2005, 23 shooting deaths YTD in 2017 including 3 dead and 5 injured in 3 days.”

It drew criticism from many, including Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash, who wondered the “relevance” of comparing this year to 2005’s Summer of the Gun.

“I don’t know what benefit there is to comparing where we are today to 12 years ago.”

Pugash noted “you don’t come up with trends in a week” and the “picking and choosing of statistics to suit your argument” is not constructive.

While I get Mark’s point, I understand where Mike is coming from, too.

While this year’s 27 homicides is far lower than last year’s 46 at this time, if you were to measure things by bullets instead of coffins, the amount of gun violence in Toronto is basically the same.

Statistics show at this time last year, Toronto had 225 shootings compared to this year’s 214. And when it comes to shooting victims in 2017, there are actually three more shooting victims this year at 319 compared to last year.

As retired staff-inspector Mike Earl was saying in June, it’s just an inch to the left or right that causes statistics to change.

McCormack has been talking for weeks about what all of this gun play, and the crime that it either breeds or emanates from, is having on the morale of the officers he represents. He’s also right the TPS strength is 500 officers down from a year ago.

“They are over-burdened,” he said. “With the fatal shootings, we had 14 officers in one hospital instead of being deployed elsewhere.”

He argued “don’t just look at the shooting and homicide numbers but look at the locations of the crimes and the staffing levels in the divisions which are much less than in previous years. I mean when you have people walking right into the main parts of the city guns a blazing, you can’t deny there are issues.”

I understand the politicians not wanting to fearmonger but for me every shooting and every homicide is one too many and a potential hole in the dam.

“We have to be realistic and get our heads out of the sand when the talk is on transformational changes,” he said. “The shootings are still happening and basically the same number of people are being wounded.”

Pugash agreed while this is “serious” and a “cause for concern,” when you look at things “on a year-long basis, Toronto is the safest big city in Canada by far.”

But, as McCormack says, with three more shooting victims in 2017 over a year ago at this time, and less officers to crime fight, how much longer will Toronto be able to make that boast?

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