TORONTO — A year 2018 particularly violent in Toronto, marked by an upsurge in crimes committed with guns, led the police in toronto to enter an abnormally high number of handguns on the streets of the city, declared, Thursday, the police chief Mark Saunders.
According to Mr. Saunders, the police have already confiscated 514 handguns in 2018, 222 more than in 2017, and the number of homicides by firearm has increased by nearly 30 percent. All this while there are still a few days before the New Year.
The weapons come from a variety of sources, specified by the head, thus effecting a change in tone from earlier statements of his service which suggested that the majority of crimes were committed with weapons purchased on the territory of the city.
The rise of armed violence remains the main priority to the approach of 2019, reiterated Mr. Saunders, taking stock of a record year for the number of homicides committed in Toronto, which stands currently at 95. A year during which the community in toronto was shaken by two terrorist attacks that have claimed numerous victims.
“Every day, we see more firearms,” said chief Saunders during a press conference of the end of the year. Therefore, it is one of the aspects that must be considered. The second element relates to what motivates people to use a gun to solve their problems.”
Mark Saunders has not provided a detailed analysis of the origin of the firearms, but he stressed that a growing number of these are made from printers three dimensional. He also repeated that the weapons stored locally have been used in many crimes.
In the past, the chief Saunders and senior officers of the unit of the firearms and criminal groups had claimed that the firearms purchased in Canada were now more likely to be used to commit a crime than those purchased in the United States.
Earlier this year, detective Rob Di Danieli, a specialist in the firearms and criminal groups, which had reported that about half of the weapons used to commit a crime in this country came from Canada. According to Mr. Di Danieli, the trend would have started to switch in 2012.
Of the internal data of the police, obtained by The canadian Press through the Law on access to information, suggests, however a different story.
While the number of weapons used to commit crimes has fallen between 2007 and 2017, the weapons imported from the United States have been more often involved in crimes than weapons bought in Canada for 8 of the last 11 years. The canadian arms have been used more frequently to commit crimes that the us weapons only in 2010 and 2015, whereas the two types of weapons are equal to the year 2016.
These data do not include details on the number of weapons from countries other than the United States, or on the number of weapons whose origin could not be established.
Confronted with this apparent contradiction, a spokeswoman for the Toronto police said that over the past five years, the number of investigations, arrests and convictions against people who had legally purchased firearms in Canada and then were diverted or resold for profit had substantially increased.
“The majority of the firearms involved in a crime, which are handguns seized by the Toronto police service, arrived in the United States, wrote Kevin Masterman in an email sent to The canadian Press. The majority of long guns involved in a crime, including shotguns, sawn-off, are of canadian origin.”
During the press conference on Thursday, Mark Saunders said to worry less about identifying the source of firearms that, to put the finger on the reasons that motivate people to use it, attributing it to the summit of armed violence to the activities of street gangs.
“If someone wants a gun, he’s going to have one, he recognized. There are more ways to access them than ever before. It is, therefore, one aspect of the problem. Transform this motivation or to apprehend those who are determined, I believe it is a priority concern in the current environment.”
Recognizing that the year 2018 has been particularly difficult to Toronto, Mr. Saunders was felt, however, that high profile events had contributed to make us look bad its police force.
Vast resources have been devoted to the investigation on the alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur, accused of murdering eight men associated with the gay community of Toronto over a period of seven years.
Two deadly attacks have also affected the Toronto area. In April, the suspect Alek Minassian would have overthrown many pedestrians on Yonge street in a van rented, killing 10 people. Three months later, a gunman opened fire in the district, Greektown, shooting at pedestrians and customers of restaurants. He killed two people before turning the gun on himself.
These events have undermined the public’s feeling of safety, admitted the chief of police.
“It is one thing when you play with the firearms. It is another when you look over your shoulder walking down the street or you are sitting in a restaurant, he said. The public has really been traumatized by these two killings, of mass occurred one after the other, and this feeling is always present.”