The Great Wave of North American Violence

This has been a devastating week in the news. In Toronto, just a couple of days ago, at a peaceful family block party, gang warfare broke out and two innocent bystanders were shot to death, and twelve others were injured, including an infant. When police officers went around to interview witnesses, they all just sort of stood there, shell shocked. One mother had rounded up her children at one point in the evening because the party had grown from a manageable forty some odd neighbors to an overwhelming one hundred and something. She felt that it was getting a bit too hectic for her and her children, so they left and went home. Only a few hours later, gunfire rang in the air, and violence ensued.

A couple of days later, a young man dressed up in combat gear walks into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, hurls some gas canisters of unknown gas into the crown and opens fire in dark movie theater. The twenty-four year old murders twelve innocent people and injures fifty nine others. The suspect was a twenty-four year old neuroscience student. When the FBI were investigating whether or not the suspect had acted alone, they discovered that his apartment had been booby trapped. Ironically, the neighbor that lived below the suspect said that all of a sudden, loud, blaring techno music came on that was so disruptive, it was shaking her entire apartment. She had gone upstairs to confront the suspect and ask him to turn his music down, but there was no answer when she tried to open the door. What investigators realized later was that the music had been timed to come on at the same time as the shootings at the movie theater. Can you imagine what would have happened if she opened the door? One more senseless death.

The common thread here is guns. Why is it so damn easy for everyone and anyone to get their hands on a gun. In the United States, the answer is simple, everyone there has the right to bear arms. But in Canada, the gun laws are slightly more strict, in that you can’t just stroll around town with a pistol in your purse, and if you do, the sentencing is pretty hefty if you ever get caught. But still, that doesn’t seem to discourage youth from purchasing illegal firearms off the street, and using them to gun down innocent bystanders. The really sad part about all of this, is that one of the victims from the Denver shooting, Jessica Ghawi, narrowly missed being gunned down in the recent Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto. She was a talented sports writer who had been in Toronto visiting her hockey player boyfriend, and just happened to be at the mall that day. It’s a cruel twist of fate that she was gunned down in her own town, after just dodging fate.

Something has to change. Gun laws in both countries are absurd, and they’re not doing their part to ensure that our streets are safe. Why should I have to worry that the next time I go to a movie theatre that someone is going to step out from the shadows and gun me down, just for the sake of anarchy? The laws aren’t good enough, the police don’t have enough resources, and meanwhile, innocent people lose their lives before they’ve even begun.