The Current

Social media 'turf wars' influencing rise in public shootings, anti-gun violence advocate says

Three separate shootings in the heart of downtown Toronto stir concern that gun violence is on the rise in Canada's largest city.

Anti-gun violence advocate Louis March says changes in Toronto's gun culture are being overlooked

Three separate shootings in the heart of downtown Toronto have stirred concern that gun violence is on the rise in Canada's largest city. (CBC)

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Queen Street West, King Street West, Kensington Market.

These downtown Toronto areas are often abuzz with people shopping, working or packing into restaurants and cafes, but this Canada Day weekend the hotspots were scenes of separate shootings — one of which was fatal.

Louis March, the founder of Zero Gun Violence Movement, an advocacy group working to end gun violence across the Greater Toronto Area, says greater access to guns, an increase in the use of semi-automatic weapons and the rise of social media are contributing to the increasing public nature of gun violence in Toronto.

"The turf wars are no longer physical turf wars. They are to some extent. But the turf wars now are virtual turf wars."

"You can disrespect somebody through your social media outlets, and there's going to be a response. And what we've seen right now is how immediate it is."

Louis March, founder of Zero Gun Violence Movement advocacy group, speaks with The Current about the increasingly public nature of Toronto shootings. 1:08
City councillor Joe Cressy, says Torontonians are feeling unsafe. (Yan Jun Li/CBC Toronto)

Joe Cressy, the city councillor who represents Trinity-Spadina — which includes the neighbourhoods where the shootings occurred — says community members are feeling "trauma … and a sense of fear in a city that remains safe," as compared to most North American cities.

City councillor Joe Cressy told The Current Toronto is not seeing a rise in shootings but their increasing public nature has different communities paying attention. 0:41

The Current's guest host Mike Finnerty speaks with March and Cressy about what's behind the recent gun violence in Toronto, and the best approaches to address it. 

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

This segment was produced by The Current's Alison Masemann, Kristian Jebsen and Danielle Carr.