Shooting On The #Danforth: Too Close
#TorontoStrong A Twitter Trend - Again
Do We Go With Thoughts And Prayers? Laws? Action On Mental Health?
I've long since maintained that not everyone is "wired right." While everyone is different and unique - and that's as it should be - fundamentally, most of us have a basic sense of right and wrong that will stop us, hopefully, from descending into utter anarchy.
Notice I said "most of us."
On July 22, Torontonians were once again made fearful for their lives. Toronto once again became a city that grieved. Torontonians once again helped each other survive what seems to be a growing occurrence in major city centres, at least in North America.
On July 22, according to CBC and a few other news agencies, two were dead, including a gunman, and another 12 were injured as a shooting spree broke out in the Danforth in the Greektown neighborhood in Toronto. Toronto mayor John Tory said told reporters that "Guns are too readily available to too many people."
One could also argue that people are becoming increasingly aware of where to purchase guns illegally. We could argue that this shooting, like so many others before it, is evidence of a number of individuals who did not get the mental health support they need when a problem was identified, and said individuals flew under the radar until a tragedy such as this happened. We could say or do any one of a number of things in order to try and make sense of how a tragedy like this could occur while the police work the scene to try and piece together what, exactly, happened, and why the gunman was motivated to do as he did.
That's what we do. We ask questions and struggle with information when something so out of the ordinary - so far removed from the course of our daily lives - occurs because we need to make sense of it.
We need to understand how two people lost their lives late on a Sunday evening in what is typically a peaceful Toronto neighborhood.
We need to understand why a 9-year-old girl is suddenly fighting for her life in Toronto Sick Kids' Hospital because she was caught in the midst of something she and her family may spend the rest of her life trying to understand.
We need to recognize each individual act of heroism and bravery in times like these because if we don't, we will forget that good still exists even in the worst tragedies.
It's fairly obvious that this terrible shooting in Toronto's Danforth neighborhood has given people more questions than answers right now. For most of us, knowing that there was a shooting in what is normally a quiet-ish area of a city is really outside of our realm, and it's hard for us to even try and picture something like this happening.
Put simply, it's hard to even imagine something like this happening. We read about gun violence in almost every corner of the world, but when we hear about a dozen people getting hurt and two people getting killed as the result of gun violence, it's a lot to wrap your mind around.
I'm not naive - I know that gun violence exists, and I do follow the news. However, it's hard as a Canadian, and especially as someone who lives just an hour from Toronto, to try and believe, let alone accept, that violence on this sort of level has occurred. I know that gun violence is not unique to Canada, but by the same token, we do not experience that sort of violence on the same level as seen in other countries.
So, now the question becomes, what are we going to do about it?
We can tighten our gun laws, sure, but remember the gun registry that someone in the Canadian government said would help fight crime? What criminal registers their guns?
Do we offer "thoughts and prayers" as has happened before? Undoubtedly those directly involved in what happened the evening of July 22 could do with positive energy, but what do we do to prevent violence like this happening again?
We can also look at how we support those with mental health challenges. We can hypothesize that the alleged gunman had some sort of mental health issue, as someone who is "stable" would probably not start shooting as they're walking through any given neighborhood. However, we have to be careful, as not everyone with a mental health issue is violent. We can, however, look at how seriously we deal with mental health in the first place.
The fact of the matter is, while we can ask all kinds of questions and speculate all we want as to what motivated the alleged gunman to do as he did, there will never be answers that are good enough to satisfy our need to know why, yet again, gun violence broke out.