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We Shouldn't Be Surprised.


Since tackling issues 7-10 days after they happen, seems to be my thing...

The December 26th shootings downtown delivered an exceptional amount of debate and forward thinking with respect to a blatantly visible problem we have in Toronto. There are guns on the street. Certain people have no perception of the emotional damage even the slightest violent encounter can inflict on a victim. Most importantly - this issue exists, everywhere. Rosedale, Yorkville, Forest Hill, King West, Queen West, College, Yonge & Eglinton. Everywhere.

There was only one reactionary statement that left me a little confused: surprise. Certain people reacted like a parent who found out their kid had been suspended for dealing drugs at their high school. "Oh, no. Not my son. Someone must have planted the drug paraphernalia and the eight-grand in his locker."

I mean, how could an incident like this possibly catch anyone off guard? Anybody who reads the paper on a regular basis, or has any pride in being a Torontonian, should have felt shock, disappointment and anger. But not surprise.

Amazingly, until December 26th, the perception of our city and its level of safety had nothing to do with Toronto. Torontonians just knew that "we were safer than the United States". We felt comfortable making jokes about Detroit, Buffalo Chicago and New York City (which incidentally, is appreciably safer and cleaner than Toronto).

Well, guess what? We have a gun problem that rivals any major American city, in spite of a government that makes it significantly more difficult to obtain a firearm.

Where Toronto takes itself from here, says a lot about our resolve and collective intelligence. A successful precedent for dealing with excessive violence in a major metropolitan area in North America has not yet been set.

The answer doesn't lie in banning firearms or making stiffer penalties for criminals. Those are simply intransigent people attempting to mask a much larger problem. If someone does something brainless, you first need to ask that person why he or she did it. For revenge? For survival? For fun?

There is not an attractive option in the bunch. That does not mean we shouldn't seek it out.

Update: Photo has been updated. Source: Sam Javanrouh


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