After the mass shooting on Sunday night in Toronto, Canadians are searching for answers about the city’s rise in violent crime. It’s not just Toronto that’s seen an increase in violent crime that involve handguns, either.
The large-scale attacks which make the international news, including the April van attack which left ten people dead, are part of a larger trend.
Toronto has seen a significant rise in the frequency of gun-related crimes, with gun-related fatalities having doubled since this time last year. Statistics Canada has presented data that shows that the rise in crime is occurring nationwide.
Although the international perception of Canada may be one of safety for those seeking refuge in comparison the United States (and it is, when comparing the two countries) there are various systemic issues affecting the country which could contribute to the spikes in violence.
The American Border is the Problem with Firearms Brought into Canada
One issue on which Canada has prided itself is gun control and the existence of strict laws that prevent the type of daily violence seen in the United States. The problem is that while these laws limit movement and use of guns within Canada, the United States border remains a boundary where illegal firearms can be brought over.
Illegally smuggling guns across the US-Canada border is a lucrative business. A valuable market exists due to the low availability of weapons in Canada and the ease of access and variety of firearms accessible in the US.
The Government Fighting Illegal Guns in Canada
Federal authorities have been monitoring the gun trade for years, and the government invested $100 million into an investigation of the gun trade in 2016. This led to an increase in arrests, including a man earlier this year who admitted to bringing handguns into Canada.
The illegal gun trade is just the beginning of the problem of firearms flowing across the border. Ignorance plays a role as well because Americans are accustomed to liberal gun laws and unaware of Canadian laws, leading them to attempt to bring their firearms across the border.
The Canada Border Services Agency gave a warning to American travelers this past week, telling them to ‘leave your guns at home.’
However, the availability of guns in the United States is not the sole contributing force to the rise in violence in Canada. While starting with a crackdown on American guns making their way into Canada is a good starting point, Canadian authorities must address root social inequality issues to solve the problem of increased violence.
Increasing Canadian Border Security May Cause Problems
Border security may become stricter and could lead to increased tensions between the US and Canada. Currently, American border agents have the right to seize Canadians’ cellphones, ban marijuana-smokers for life, and make incursions into Canadian-claimed waters.
It is likely that harsher enforcement of Canadian gun laws will lead to further strained relations between the two countries, as the seizure of American guns may agitate pro-gun lobbyists and politicians of the Trump administration.
An escalation of conflict between the US and Canada appears unavoidable.