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You Can't Stop Crime if You Can't Say Who Is Doing it

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What to do about gun violence in Toronto -- or anywhere else, for that matter?

Well, contrary to prevailing opinion, there's a lot that can be done.

For starters, we (the police and government) should determine who is doing the shooting. Is there a particular segment of society that is more prone to using guns than other groups?

If the answer is "yes," then steps can be taken to curb such violence.

But to make the initial determination means profiling who exactly is doing the shooting and, in general, who the victims of such shootings are.

"Profiling" is a taboo word for many, especially human rights zealots who equate "profiling" with bullying or unfairly picking on a portion of the community. The last cop who identified a crime-prone group got reprimanded and demoted.

Examining gun violence is more like diagnosing who and why such violence is rampant. And diagnosis is essential before one can find a cure. The two go hand and fist.

The reality is that the groups for whom handguns are a factor of daily life are adept at profiling and making targets of their enemies.

In Toronto, the ones using guns -- and the victims of shootings -- mostly tend to be of Jamaican origin. Police know this, even if they can't say so publicly.

Certainly Jamaicans know it, be they gun-wielding Jamaicans, victims of shootings, or Jamaicans who want no part of gun-culture and deplore violence, and who probably came to Canada to escape such violence in Jamaica itself.

In every election in Jamaica, there are reports of guns being used -- not by the majority, but by the few who give the majority a bad name. It is usually not people from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, St. Lucia, Benin, etc. who are addicted to using guns in Canada.

Yes, gang rivalry exacerbates gun violence, and that's an issue for police to handle. Politicians scolding and pronouncing does little -- nor will more basketball courts change the culture. Gangs are immune to reason

This is a nasty summer for Toronto by way of gun violence, where innocents get killed by accident -- 178 shooting victims so far this year.

Apart from the usual declarations about educating and encouraging peaceful discourse, it's essential that those who carry guns be persuaded that it is dangerous to do so, if caught.

The mandatory three-year prison sentence for even carrying a handgun is useful only if it's non-negotiable and can't be plea-bargained away.

We've had a recent case where a guy was sentenced on a drug offence, and got an additional three years for offering to sell an undercover cop a .45 handgun. The judge reduced the three years to one year because he didn't think it was fair.

A case can be made that the guy shouldn't have even gotten one year. He didn't have a gun, and was only talking about selling one that he didn't have. You don't jail someone for big talk about a gun he doesn't have, but you do sent him to jail if he has one.

Too often, people are arrested with a gun who are on bail for a crime involving a gun. That's also wrong. It shouldn't take long to convict someone for carrying a gun in a crime, even if the verdict of crime itself is in question.

It's conceivable an accused could be found not guilty of robbery, but guilty of carrying a gun. A mandatory sentence puts him out of circulation for three years.

That's not a cure for a social problem, but it treats the symptom.