Thursday, January 31, 2008

Neighbours report no past problems at home where body discovered

quote1 'We see them (the people living in the house) in the summer, but we didn’t have any direct contact with them'

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Jan. 26, Durham Regional Police were called to 1675 Hollyhedge Dr. in Pickering in the Major Oaks and Brock roads area in response to a shooting.

Police found one dead man inside the house and a second suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound. The injured man, a Pickering resident, was taken to hospital for treatment.

The name of the murdered man, also believed to be a Pickering resident, is being withheld pending identification.

On Monday morning, as children were heading off to school and people were out walking dogs, yellow police tape still surrounded two houses and a pair of cruisers were still posted outside the house.

Joe Rajab, who lives near the site, says, “A detective came over early Saturday morning when the incident first happened. I didn’t see any suspicious activity. They were very hard-working individuals.”

Mr. Rajab, whose wife is expecting the couple’s first child, says this sort of incident is “unheard of” in the neighbourhood.

“It’s a quiet community, quiet area,” he says. “It’s pretty shocking.

“We see them (the people living in the house) in the summer, but we didn’t have any direct contact with them,” Mr. Rajab adds.

Other neighbours said they never spoke with the people living in the house, but had seen them around.

A man whose house backs onto the murder scene says they didn’t hear anything. “We were all sleeping.”

As for any problems at the house, he says, “Not that I heard of.”

Police believe the shooting occurred inside the residence, although it is unclear at this point whether either or both of the men lived in the house. The investigation is continuing and no arrests have been made.

This is the second murder in Pickering this year. The body of Khristian Gerri Ottley, 23, of Valley Farm Road was found Jan. 15 in a car in a ravine area off Valley Farm Road, north of Finch Avenue around 4 p.m. No arrest has been made in Mr. Ottley’s murder.

Anyone with information about Saturday’s murder is asked to call the DRPS Homicide Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5326. Anonymous information can be sent to Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 and tipsters may be eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.

Pickering's second murder of 2008

PICKERING -- A quiet Pickering neighbourhood where large family homes line the street became the scene of Durham Region's second murder of the year early this morning.

Shortly after midnight Durham Regional Police were called to 1675 Holly Hedge Drive in Pickering in the Major Oaks and Brock Roads area in response to a shooting.

Police found one dead man inside the residence and a second suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound. The injured man, a Pickering resident, was taken to hospital for treatment. The name of the murdered man, also believed to be a Pickering resident, is being withheld pending identification.

Police believe the shooting occurred inside the residence although it is unclear at this point whether either or both of the men lived in the house. The investigation is continuing and no arrests have been made.

This is the second murder in Pickering this year. The body of Khristian Gerri Ottley, 23, of Valley Farm Road. was found Jan. 15 in a car in a ravine area off Valley Farm Road, north of Hwy. 2 around 4 p.m. No arrest has been made in Mr. Ottley's murder.

Anyone with information about today's murder is asked to call the DRPS Homicide Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5326. Anonymous information can be sent to Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 and tipsters may be eligible for a $2,000 cash reward.

Monday, January 21, 2008

GMW-2007 Toronto Gun Violence Victims+Prevention Programs

Police ask for witness help in Chinatown murder

Toronto police have not received a single tip from the public since they launched an investigation into a shooting in east Chinatown that killed an innocent bystander.

That's what authorities told community members who gathered Monday at a local church to hear about developments in the case.

"We have yet to receive a single phone call from this community or any other community to assist the Toronto police, in helping us in our goal to capture these killers," Insp. Peter Yuen told the crowd.

The street was packed with people when shots were fired outside the Fu Yao Supermarket on Thursday.

Hou Chang Mao, 42, was working at the Gerrard Street market when he was fatally struck. Police say he was not the intended target.

Detectives spent the weekend looking over security video footage, hoping to catch a glimpse of the person or people who mistakenly shot the father of two.

On Monday, authorities released a picture of a light-coloured car they believe is connected to the shooting.

Police are still looking to speak to two men seen running from the scene. They have said they are looking into whether the men witnessed the shooting or were the intended targets.

Hou, who has lived in Canada for two years, leaves behind an 18-year-old daughter Yun Yan and 23-year-old son Zul Xi.

"I always believed Canada was a safe and peaceful country," Yun Yan told CTV Toronto through a translator. "I don't understand why this happened to us. They need to be punished."

So far, more than $10,000 has been raised through donation boxes to help the family.

Funeral services are planned for Friday.

Gun ban debate

The shooting has renewed the debate for a gun ban in the city.

Toronto Mayor David Miller met with Ontario's Attorney General Chris Bentley Monday morning to discuss gun safety.

However, they have said they can't fight gun crime without the federal government joining in to form a united front.

"We work well together and we need the third partner to be more actively at the table," Bentley told reporters. "The handgun ban is essential, there are far too many handguns, but we also need the federal government to step up in other areas."

The slaying marks the city's third so far this year, and the second time in one week that an innocent bystander has been shot dead on a busy Toronto street.

John O'Keefe, 42, was caught in a deadly crossfire as he walked on Yonge Street on Jan. 12. He was shot once in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. Two men have been arrested and charged

Ban Hand Guns In Ontario ( Petition )

Ontario politicians call for handgun ban

Updated Fri. Dec. 30 2005 5:02 PM ET News Staff

Toronto Mayor David Miller and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have called for a handgun ban, in the wake of the city's Boxing Day shootout.

Miller has urged all Torontonians to support whichever party would implement such a ban in the federal election.

"Torontonians should be saying to people in this election, 'What are you going to do about guns? Do you support banning guns?'" Miller said Friday.

He went on to say "a party that doesn't include gun control in its platform isn't addressing the issues in Toronto," referring to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Both the Liberal Party and NDP have called for a ban on handguns.

McGuinty also called for a handgun ban in a statement released Thursday, saying "only severe penalties can clearly convey the gravity of gun-related crimes and our society's intolerance for them."

As well as a ban on handguns, McGuinty has called for:

  • minimum sentencing of four years for illegal possession of a handgun;
  • increased mandatory minimum sentences for any gun crime;
  • new Criminal Code offences for robbery or break and entering with the intent to steal a gun;
  • a reverse onus on bail for all gun crimes; and,
  • increased penalties for any breach of bail conditions.

Sheila Ward, chair of the Toronto District School Board, echoed the premier's urging of tougher penalties.

"I want to see federal criminal legislation that provides for a 10-year surcharge added on to any sentence for a crime in which a gun is in the possession of any of the perpetrators," Ward said in a statement Thursday.

"The sentence would not allow for any time off for good behavior, nor would it be eligible for any other reductions. Ten years is a full 3,650 days and if you have a gun it's going to cost you."

Miller has spoken with Police Chief Bill Blair to discuss other ways to fight gun-related crime in Toronto. The city will have 300 new police officers on the street by Jan. 16, where Miller says they are most needed.

"We need them there because when you have a strong, visible police presence, it shows people the community is safe and it's a deterrent to crime," Miller said.

"We also need them there because police need to be able to develop networks in communities to do their job properly so they get the proper intelligence, and so the people in the communities trust them and work with them, and feel comfortable coming forward as witnesses."

Miller said that about 200 officers will be re-deployed from desk jobs, while 144 officers were sworn in on Dec. 19 to start their training program.

The mayor has also considered installing surveillance cameras in the city. The Toronto Transit Commission is currently installing cameras throughout the subway system, as well as on buses and streetcars. Footage taken by the cameras is erased unless needed, to ease privacy concerns.

"I think surveillance cameras can have a role," Miller said. "They can have a role in helping solve crimes, and a possible role as a deterrent."

However, the mayor said it's more important the city invest money in community programs, especially in troubled areas where Miller said youth feel alienated and lost.

"We have to ensure that we invest in the right kind of programs for communities, so that we don't have a new generation of young people being involved in gangs and gun violence in our city," he said.

NDP joins call for ban, wants tighter border against gun smuggling
Jan 20, 2008 04:30 AM

Staff Reporter

With two Toronto bystanders shot dead in one week, the New Democrats are calling for a cross-border political summit to tackle "the ongoing crisis" of illegal handguns crossing into Canada.

Standing near the Chinatown East grocery where clerk Hou Chang Mao was killed by a stray bullet Thursday while stacking oranges outside, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton yesterday joined Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor David Miller in urging an absolute ban on handguns.

Layton also wants federal funds committed to pay for more police on Canadian streets, and better witness protection and youth prevention programs.

"Mr. Mao is the third innocent person to be killed by stray gunfire if we include Jane Creba (the Boxing Day shopper killed in 2005)," said Layton during a press conference with NDP politicians from Ottawa, Queen's Park and City Hall.

John O'Keefe, 42, was killed by a bullet last weekend as he walked past the Brass Rail strip bar on Yonge St. near Bloor.

"We need a cross-border summit," said Layton, "to develop an action plan to stop illegal guns from coming across the border."

Canada should spend less money at the border fighting terror and more on curbing the illegal handguns that have been streaming in from the United States since we shifted the border focus, said NDP justice critic Joe Comartin.

The Windsor MP said his city is a major corridor for Midwest biker gangs that are exploiting the change of focus to smuggle across handguns – along with cocaine and heroin – that are sold to Ontario street gangs in return for drugs that they smuggle back to the U.S.

"These special investigations units at the border have seen their resources for traditional crime depleted by up to 50 per cent because of the focus on terror," he said.

Bilateral talks are needed with U.S. politicians "to discuss how to ramp up enforcement and stop the smuggling," Comartin said. "We are in a crisis of gun smuggling, mostly by organized crime on both sides of the border."

A cross-border summit on gun control should address the loose identity checks at some big gun shows in the U.S., Comartin added, where gun dealers skirt state laws restricting sales to residents of that state. Such gun shows often provide biker gangs with the illegal handguns that end up on Canadian streets, he said.

In Chinatown East at Gerrard and Broadview, shop owners were still grappling with the aftershocks of Mao's death and said some customers were staying away.

Hong He Shi, manager of the Fu Yao grocery that employed the victim for two years, said through an interpreter – Layton's wife, MP Olivia Chow – that he hopes police will take care of gun crime. He said the store's business this weekend was cut in half, and staff morale was not good.

Down the street, the Pearl Court restaurant was down by about 20 per cent, said manager Raymond Chan.

"People still might be scared to come, maybe English-speaking customers who make up about 60 per cent of our business," he said. "Or maybe it's just too cold today. This is a safe neighbourhood."

Marilyn Churley, former New Democrat MPP in the riding, said she has lived nearby for 25 years and passed the Fu Yao store "hundreds of times."

"We don't want people to be scared to come to these shops and restaurants – this neighbourhood was devastated for weeks during the SARS crisis (in 2003)," said Churley, who'll make a second attempt to win Beaches-East York riding in the next federal election.

Outrage Grows Over Bystander Shootings

Outrage Grows Over Bystander Shootings
Friday January 18, 2008 Staff

With yet another innocent victim falling to reckless gunfire on the streets of Toronto, the call for a ban on handguns is gaining momentum and Mayor David Miller is one of the most vocal proponents of a plan to rid the streets of the deadly weapons.

"These tragedies happen simply because of the easy availability of handguns," Miller declared Friday. "And we can prevent this kind of atrocity if we get at the guns."

Adding more fuel to the fire are the startling finding from a 2006 federal government called, "Youth Weapons And Violence In Toronto And Montreal." (Full report below.)

Seventy-seven per cent of students in Toronto claimed "some" or "a few" students carried weapons in school, and 33 per cent perceiving guns to be a "very or somewhat serious" problem in their learning institutions.

"That's an alarming rate," commented Louise Russo, who was paralyzed after getting caught in the crossfire of an attempted gangland hit.

"There just doesn't seem to be any more respect for life.

Innocent Bystander Who Came To Canada For A New Life Loses His Own On A Busy Street

Innocent Bystander Who Came To Canada For A New Life Loses His Own On A Busy Street
Friday January 18, 2008 Staff

His name was Hou Chang Mao and he was the father of two children - an 18-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son.

Toronto Police have identified the 47-year-old as the latest innocent bystander killed on the streets of Toronto. Cops say Mao was working in the Fu Yao Supermarket on Gerrard near Broadview when two men came onto the scene and began shooting at each other. They either didn't know or didn't care that the hardworking victim was standing nearby.

"As Mr. Mao stood outside stacking oranges on the front display, two shots rang out, mortally wounding the father of two," explains Det. Sgt. Pauline Gray. "He staggered back to his place of employment and fell." He was rushed to St. Michael's Hospital but died minutes later in the emergency room.

Autopsy results show he succumbed to a gunshot wound to the torso.

Mao was a Toronto resident who had only recently returned to the country. He had just brought his daughter over from China to join him, an event both had been looking forward to, as part of a new life in Canada. Police say he has an extended family here and all of them all devastated by his shocking loss.

The kids who revered their father were understandably too upset to talk to the media on Friday. But their cousin knows the pain they're feeling. "They were so sad," agrees Wei Hang Mao. "They were very sad about that."

Cops don't know what sparked the dispute but they do have some clues - two black men were seen fleeing the area in a silver-coloured car with a shiny, silver round-shaped grille. Gray notes that last description is an important clue. The grille was "very shiny - more shiny than the rest of the car."

Detectives don't think they're the killers, but they may have been the people who were being shot at. And they're urging them and the gunmen to come forward before detectives locate them.

And they have good reason to think they will. Police have a lot of good security video and feel sure they've captured their images, prompting this warning from Gray. "I've got you on camera. Somewhere, somehow in the hundreds of hours, we'll find you in there. This is your opportunity to come forward first."

In the meantime, she's hoping area residents will provide clues they may not know they had, and insists anything - no matter how insignificant - will be useful.

"It was very busy at 6 o'clock. I can tell you that the streets were full, it was like Manhattan. And there are many, many people out there who saw what happened. They don't have to know the whole story, they just have to see one tiny piece."

Police promise the public they won't rest until they find the people behind the brazen act of cowardice.

" We're ... doing everything we can to apprehend the suspects, and my message to the Chinese community at large in the Toronto area, this is the time for action. This is time as we as a group of citizens, we need to work with the police closely," advises Insp. Peter Yuen. "Only with your help we can bring these people to justice, and also allow our officers to do their jobs, and I implore the Chinese community, and other communities to come forward to assist us."

Gray is angry that the triggermen didn't care about others. "Whatever the perceived slight or disagreement between the two groups, surely they cannot justify or walk away from the fact that they, in their reckless actions, killed an innocent man."

The evidence of the ferocity of the short but dangerous dispute is everywhere - bullet holes dot some windows and parked cars, mute testimony to the randomness of the gunfire. Cops were still on the scene the morning after, and a stretch of the busy roadway remained sealed off as the investigation continued.

Those who live in the area are stunned by the violence and realize anyone could have been hit. "It's just like part of life," one man sighs. "Unfortunately, that's the way things are. Like it's kind of a hit and miss thing. Hopefully, it won't happen to me."

Phillip Chung lives near the supermarket and is furious at the loss of a neighbourhood fixture. "I'm just shocked. I'm really shocked. I mean he doesn't deserve all this."

This latest outrage follows the killing of another man in the wrong place at the wrong time on Saturday morning. Forty-two-year-old John O'Keefe, the father of a young boy, was gunned down as he left a pub near Yonge and Bloor, accidentally getting caught up in a dispute between a bouncer and two men at a strip club. Both suspects have been arrested.

A private funeral ceremony for O'Keefe was held on Friday.

Gray is hoping his memory and that of the latest victim will stay alive. "I say to the community at large, do not allow Mr. Mao's death to slip away from our consciousness," she pleads. "And if you saw or heard anything, please let us know." Call (416) 808-7400 if you have something police need to hear.

* Toronto Police have wasted no time in putting up a video (and text from this article) on YouTube to publicize their hunt for the killers. It's a plea in Chinese for witnesses. See it here.

To see unedited video of Gray In The Raw, click here.

Call for handgun ban grows after attack

Violence spreading bad portrait of Toronto

Toronto still safe insists mayor




May, 2006

Synopsis Prepared by:

Rebecca Jesseman

Policy Analyst, Firearms and Operational Policing Policy

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada

Based on the Full Report Authored by:

Dr. Patricia G. Erickson

Senior Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Toronto

Dr. Jennifer E. Butters

Director of Research, Centre for Urban Health Initiatives, University of Toronto

The authors of the report wish to acknowledge the following collaborators: Dr. Edward Adlaf, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Dr. Serge Brochu, University of Montreal and Dr. Marie-Marthe Cousineau, University of Montreal.


Recently, attention by the media and public to the apparent increase in firearms related homicides in Toronto has tended to focus on "youth, guns, and gangs". The search for explanations and potentially effective interventions has also revealed how little research is available in Canada to address these issues. In contrast, the higher concern over guns, youth, and gang violence in the United States has prompted a spate of research over the past 20 years. Consequently, Canada is in a position to possibly over-draw from U.S. data and conclusions, lacking our own evidence on the scope and nature of the Canadian problem. In order to address this gap, the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada partnered with researchers from the University of Toronto to produce a report on "Youth, Weapons and Violence in Toronto and Montreal"[1]. This synopsis summarizes the research on which the report is based, highlights key findings, and discusses resulting conclusions and recommendations.


The research was conducted using survey information obtained through the Drugs, Alcohol, and Violence International (DAVI) study, a joint US-Canada project on youth, drugs and violence that began in 1999[2]. Although the focus of the study was drugs and violence, the survey included a series of items regarding weapon carrying, experience with gun violence[3], and participation in gang fighting. Although the research is based on self-report data, the focus of the survey on drugs increases confidence in the validity of responses to firearms items because respondents would not be expected to feel directed to over or under-emphasize involvement for the purpose of the study. The database consists of three samples of male[4] youth aged 14 to 17 years - students, dropouts and offenders in secure custody - recruited using the same questionnaires and data collection techniques in both Toronto and Montreal[5]. A comparative analysis of the two cities and the three separate samples was conducted in order to obtain both descriptive and multivariate findings.


The sample is broken down into three groups: students, selected through a two-stage stratified probability sample; dropouts, defined as those who had left school for at least 30 consecutive days during the past 12 months, and detainees, youth serving sentences in secure custodial facilities. Students were surveyed in the school using self-administered questionnaires, and dropouts and detainees were surveyed using personal interviews. The student sample consists of 904 9th- to 12th-graders from Toronto (8 schools; n=456 students) and Montreal (8 schools, n=448) surveyed between April 2001 and May 2003. The dropout sample consists of 218 respondents; 116 interviewed in Toronto between July 2000 and November 2002 and 102 interviewed in Montreal between January and June 2003. The sample was obtained through referrals from service agencies, youth centres, and outreach efforts, and respondents received $15 at the end of the interview. The detainee sample consisted of 278 youth, 132 in Southern Ontario secure custody facilities whose family home is in Toronto, and 146 from secure custody facilities serving the Montreal area.


This report does not address trend data, since no prior Canadian research contains comparable detail and depth of questions on youth and firearms for base line purposes. The focus on adolescents, 14-17 years old, reflects the period when serious interpersonal violence increases and peaks; however, the data cannot be generalized to older youth, or to those in other cities and parts of Canada.


Multivariate Logistic Regression:

The significant factors in predicting experience with gun violence varied according to city and sample group. In the student sample, involvement in gang fighting was the only significant predictor of experiencing gun violence, either as a victim or aggressor. Students in Toronto who had been involved in a gang fight were four times as likely to report experiencing gun-related violence than those who had not engaged in gang fighting, and students in Montreal were almost eleven times as likely. In the dropout sample, involvement in cocaine/crack selling increased the likelihood of experiencing gun violence as a victim in Montrealand as an aggressor in Toronto. In the detainee sample, involvement in gang fighting was the strongest predictor of all gun-related outcome measures. Involvement in drug sales predicted experience with gun violence in Toronto, but not in Montreal. Attitudes about guns also played a significant role in the detainee sample, with those in Toronto who believed that a weapon was the easiest way to hurt someone being significantly more likely to have experienced gun violence as a victim, and those in Montreal who believed that carrying a weapon gets you more respect actually being less likely to have experienced gun violence as a victim.

Several relationships emerged that, although not statistically significant, merit mention. Once other factors are controlled, these relationships do not have a significant impact, however they may indicate other related factors not examined in this study that play a role, and are therefore worth further inquiry. Across all three samples, black youth were more likely than white youth to have experienced gun related violence. Involvement in drug sales also demonstrated a positive relationship with gun related violence, particularly in the Montrealsample. Conversely, family structure emerged as a potential protective factor, with respondents who reported living with both parents being less likely to report involvement in gun violence.

Descriptive Findings:

Student Sample:

The student sample, as the most normative group, reported lower rates of involvement in gun, gang, and drug issues. Students in the Toronto sample were more likely than those in Montreal to report problems with weapons in the school environment, with 77% (vs. 56% in Montreal) reporting that "some" or "a few" students carried weapons in school, 22% (vs. 7% in Montreal) reporting knowing someone who had brought a gun to school, and 33% (vs. 18% in Montreal) perceiving guns to be a "very or somewhat serious" problem in their schools. Interestingly, students in Montrealwere slightly more likely to self-report carrying a gun into the school environment (0.8% in Torontovs. 2.2% in Montreal). Knives were the most commonly identified weapon among those who carry weapons, by 20.4% in Torontoand 17.5% in Montreal. A higher proportion of the Torontosample than the Montrealsample (31% vs. 15%) agreed that carrying a weapon gets you more respect. The percentage of students who reported experience with gun violence was low in both Torontoand Montreal, both as victims (7.1% vs. 4.7%) and as aggressors (3.0% vs. 2.5%).

Dropout Sample:

Overall, the dropout sample scored higher than the student sample on items such as weapons carrying, gang fighting, and drugs, most likely reflecting a generally higher level of involvement in delinquent activity. As seen in the student sample, more dropouts in Torontothan in Montrealreported weapons-related behaviour in school, with 50% in Torontoreporting that "most" or "some" students carry weapons to school versus 25% in Montreal. A higher number of Torontothan Montrealdropouts also reported having personally carried a weapon to school (46% vs. 22%), as well as, more specifically, a gun (15% vs. 8%). Despite these variations in rates, perceptions of the seriousness of the problem of guns in school were consistent in both cities.

A greater proportion of the dropouts in Toronto reported weapon carrying among their friends and personal weapon carrying. Over three-quarters of the dropouts in Toronto indicated that their friends carried weapons, while 63% reported the same in Montreal, and in Toronto 76% indicated having carried a weapon when they were not in school (in comparison to 38% in Montreal). In both cities, as with the student sample, knives emerged as the most frequently reported weapon ever carried (70% in Toronto and 34% in Montreal). Dropouts in the Toronto sample (33%) were also more likely to report carrying a gun than those in Montreal (18%). A relationship between carrying a weapon and participation in gang fighting was evident in the dropout sample in both cities, and was particularly strong in the Montreal sample where gang fighting was more frequently reported.

Compared to the student sample in which Montreal was only at 15%, a higher proportion of dropouts in Montreal than in Toronto (30% vs. 24%) agreed that carrying a weapon gets you more respect. The lifetime experience of gun related violence was greater among Toronto dropouts than those in Montreal. In Toronto, 44% reported experiencing gun violence as a victim, and 25% as an aggressor. In Montreal, 28% reported experiencing gun violence as a victim, and 12% as an aggressor. Despite lower rates of lifetime victimization, Montreal dropouts reported a greater amount of victimization in the past 12 months (i.e. three or more incidences, 21%) than those in Toronto (i.e. three or more incidences, 16%). Conversely, Toronto dropouts reported being the aggressor of this type of violence more frequently than Montreal dropouts. In questions regarding the context of the most violent incident experienced, respondents in Montreal identified gang involvement more frequently than those in Toronto. More Montreal than Toronto respondents also identified that the incident was drug related (27% vs. 7%), however virtually all of the dropouts in both cities reported the use of some type of psychoactive substance[6] on the day of the event.

Detainee Sample:

Toronto respondents again reported higher levels of weapons-related behaviour in schools than Montreal respondents, with 26% reporting most students carried a weapon to school (vs. 11% in Montreal), 77% reporting that they know someone who has carried a weapon to school (vs. 61% in Montreal), and 60% reporting that they had personally carried a weapon to school (vs. 42% in Montreal). Toronto detainees were also more likely to see guns in school as a problem than Montreal detainees (i.e. 24% vs. 12% identifying this item as "very serious").

Knives were again the most commonly reported weapons carried by detainees (73% in Toronto and 54% Montreal), followed by guns. Detainees in Toronto (60%) were more likely to report carrying guns than those in Montreal (49%). As found in the dropout sample, reported involvement in gang fighting was associated with carrying weapons for both Toronto and Montreal detainee samples. Approximately one-quarter of detainees in both Toronto and Montreal felt that carrying a weapon gets you respect.

Levels of experience for gun-related violence were considerable in both detainee samples, with Toronto respondents reporting higher levels than those in Montreal. In Toronto, 61% of the sample reported lifetime experience with gun violence as a victim, compared to 49% in Montreal. The Toronto sample also reported more frequent experience in the past year, with 37% reporting being threatened three or more times compared to 15% in Montreal. The trend was similar in experience as an aggressor in gun violence, with 46% of the Toronto sample reporting lifetime experience (vs. 41% in Montreal) and 38% in Toronto reporting three or more times in the past year compared to 24% in Montreal. Participation in gang fights was again associated with experiencing gun violence, with the strongest relationship found in the Montreal sample. For example, 84% of detainees in Montreal who reported involvement in firearm violence as an aggressor also reported involvement in gang related violence in the past year (vs. 75% in Toronto).

When asked about the most violent incident experienced in the past year, 35% of the Montreal sample compared to 28% in Toronto reported that gang members were involved, although only approximately 13% in both cities reported that the "main cause" of the event was gang related. In addition, 29% of Montreal detainees reported that a gun was used to threaten or try to hurt someone during the incident, compared to 24% in Toronto. Again, virtually all respondents reported the use of a psychoactive substance on the day of the incident. Montreal detainees were more likely to report that the incident was drug-related, though, than Toronto detainees (41% vs. 13%).

Gun Acquisition:

Little information is available in Canada on how youth obtain illegal firearms. This survey asked dropout and detainee samples where they would obtain a gun if they wanted one, and how long it would take to obtain a gun. Although the questions are based on perceptions that have not necessarily been acted upon, responses provide a useful indication of potential sources of illegal guns and the ease with which they might be obtained. The fact that a small percentage of respondents did in fact identify that they would legally buy a gun from a store indicates a lack of knowledge and direct experience among at least a portion of the sample (as the sample was under 18, none of the respondents could legally have purchased a firearm in Canada).

Among dropouts in both Toronto and Montreal, purchase from a friend or relative was the most commonly reported source, at approximately 1/3. Only slightly behind at 26% among Toronto dropouts was obtaining a gun from a friend or relative without having to pay for it. Approximately 20% of dropouts in both Toronto and Montreal reported that they would obtain a gun "on the streets". Dropouts in Montreal (18%) were more likely than those in Toronto (7%) to identify that they would obtain a gun from a drug dealer. Dropouts in Toronto were more likely to report being able to obtain a gun in a very short period of time, with 55% reporting less than one day versus 38% in Montreal.

Due to the fact that a higher proportion of the detainee sample reported experience with guns (40% having threatened or tried to hurt someone with a gun, and 80% of these having done so in the past year), information on how these weapons were obtained is quite relevant. In Toronto, 40% reported that they would purchase a gun from a friend or relative, 20% reported they would get one from the streets, and 14% from a drug dealer. In Montreal, 28% reported that they would get a gun from a drug dealer, 26% would buy from a friend or relative, and 19% would get one on the streets. Again, the drug trade and associated connections appear to play a stronger role in the Montreal sample than in Toronto. In both cities, the majority of respondents believed that they could obtain a gun in less than one day (66% in Toronto and 59% in Montreal), with 37% of the Toronto sample indicating that they could, in fact get a gun in less than an hour (compared to 21% in Montreal).


As expected, the highest rates of weapons involvement and gun violence are found in detainees, followed by dropouts, and the lowest rates are among students. This suggests that different forms of intervention should be targeted to the different groups. For students, the most high-risk members appear to be those with histories of gang fighting, with no other factors of comparably strong impact. Thus, preventive efforts aimed at providing alternatives to youth before they seek gang liaisons should be a high priority. For those who have dropped out, it is vital to attract them back to classes or provide other alternative schooling. The data suggest that dropout youth who get involved in selling cocaine/crack are at higher risk of being involved in gun related violence of various sorts. This suggests that providing economic, not just recreational, options, are important for youth who may be at the brink of greater criminal involvement. For only the detainees were the attitudinal items towards weapons significant, suggesting that they may have developed ways to 'neutralize' their more violent behaviors, compared to the other two less delinquent groups of youth. Such techniques to justify violent or predatory behaviour that is at odds with conventional societal values has been documented in several studies as a common feature of delinquent youth.[7] Little is known specifically about how this process might be related to firearms.

There are many variables that have not been shown to have a significant effect on the gun violence outcomes, despite popular views and expectations. For example, drug use itself, and lack of an intact family, as well as racial background, were generally not important once all the variables of interest were controlled. Race is often raised as an issue in gun violence and should not be ignored, but more attention needs to be given to what other factors associated with being a member of a particular racial or ethnic group affect gun related violence outcomes, as these outcomes appear also to vary by group and city.

As well, though the measure of gang fighting was a very powerful predictor in many of the models, the variation between Torontoand Montrealrequires further examination. The descriptive data show that Montrealhas an overall higher gang fighting prevalence while Torontodisplays generally higher gun exposure. Indeed, most descriptive indicators converge in showing more gun carrying, threat, use and concern about guns among Torontoyouth in all three samples. This convergence is particularly important among students as the most representative sample of youth in general, providing the best reflection of the potential for gun violence in the adolescent population. Detainees and dropouts in Torontoalso indicated that they could acquire a gun more quickly, on average, than those in Montreal. Since the multivariate analysis showed a stronger association of guns with gangs in Montreal, and a stronger association of guns with drug dealing in Toronto, it would follow that the "gun culture" of cities varies for youth, and appropriate interventions must be considered separately.

More research is needed about the context of gun related violent events. Funding for studies that tap into why youth feel the 'need' to arm themselves, the relationship between this need and gang involvement (and how youth in general see gang involvement), involvement in drug selling, and detailed questions about gun acquisition, would all provide valuable additional data to guide intervention efforts.

[1] Additional information regarding the full report can be obtained by contacting the Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Unit, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

[2] Drugs, Alcohol and Violence International [DAVI] was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse [NIDA] through grant # RO1-DA11691-01A1, under the guidance of principal investigator Dr. Lana Harrison.

[3] Experience with gun violence was defined as being subject to or issuing threats or attempted harm using a gun, therefore is not limited to cases of physical injury/weapon discharge.

[4] A discussion of the female portion of the sample is scheduled for publication as follows:

Erickson P., Butters, J., et al. (in press) Girls and Weapons: An International Study of the Perpetration of Violence. Journal of Urban Health.2006.

[5] Funded by the Centre National de Prevention du Crime grant #3150-U4 and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant #410-2002-1154

[6] Psychoactive substances include both legal (alcohol) and illegal (marijuana, cocaine, etc.) intoxicants.

[7] Copes, H. Societal attachments, offending frequency, and techniques of neutralization. Deviant Behavior. 2003; 24:535-550