Professor Jooyoung Lee in the News: Gun Violence in Toronto

Professor Jooyoung Lee has been quoted by the Toronto Star, Global News, the National Post, and Vice.com in the wake of the recent mass shooting on the Danforth. Jooyoung Lee is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. His research focuses on gun violence and its impact on communities. He is currently completing a book Ricochet: Gun Violence and Trauma in Killadelphia (under contract with University of Chicago Press) — an ethnographic study that traces the long-term health consequences of wounded gunshot victims across Philadelphia. He is also currently working on a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Julian Tanner and Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto.

We have shared Jooyoung’s quotes below, as well as the direct links to the articles.

What drove the Toronto shooter to unleash violence on the Danforth?

by Kenyon Wallace, July 23, The Toronto Star

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, says determining motivations for mass murders is a challenging task given that the reasons are varied and complex.

“There are layers of grievances or perceived grievances mixed with potential mental health history, mixed with access to firearms, mixed with both short-term and long-term traumatic experiences that kind of propel a person towards the rage that they feel before they commit a shooting like this,” Lee said.

He added that those who have left manifestos, such as Rodger, the Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, provide some clues.

“Those manifestos at least allow us to peer inside the thought processes of these killers in the days, weeks and months leading up to the shooting, and you can see very much there is a sense that they’re going to use violence as a way of taking revenge against a society or an institution or people in general who they feel as if they’ve been wronged by,” said Lee.

Should Canada ban handguns? Debate stirs after mass shooting

by Andrew Russell, July 25, Global News

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in gun violence, said that any time there is a legal market for civilians to own concealable firearms, they could potentially end up being used in a crime.

“There is always a possibility that those kinds of firearms purchased legally can flow into the hands of people who want to use them to commit carnage,” he told the Canadian Press.

Toronto mass shooter Faisal Hussain suffered from psychosis. Could more have been done to stop him? 

by Sharon Kirkey, July 24, National Post

“By most accounts Eric was the kind of ringleader, and a budding psychopath,” said University of Toronto associate professor of sociology Jooyoung Lee, who taught a summer course on mass shootings.

“Dylan suffered from chronic depression and saw the mass shooting as a farewell to the world and as a way to kill himself.”

In most cases of mass shooters, there is a profound sense of resentment and hatred for the world, Lee and others said. Most use a gun for maximum kill.

Toronto Wants More Gun Control. Will It Work?

by Manisha Krishnan, July 25, VICE

Toronto approved implementing Shotspotter technology as part of its plan. The technology, used in cities like Chicago and Cincinnati, claims to be able to detect the precise location of gunfire in less than 60 seconds and alert police.

Jooyoung Lee, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto who studies gun violence, told VICE he lived in Philadelphia when a similar program was rolled out.

“There are very ambivalent results,” he said. “It’s certainly not preventing gun violence.”

Lee said he agrees with concerns of black activists and scholars in the city who believe ShotSpotter will simply amount to more surveillance of an already over-policed population.

Toronto is not immune to mass shootings

by Katie Daubs, July 25, The Toronto Star

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor of sociology, recently finished teaching a summer course on mass shootings at the University of Toronto. He is from the U.S. but has lived in Canada for six years, and has noticed that when mass shootings happen in the U.S. there is often a “brief moment” where Canadians morally distance themselves: “This is a tragedy, this is a disaster. I’m so glad that Canada is not like that,” they’ll say.

“But I think unfortunately these string of attacks and tragedies … have really changed that narrative to some extent and made Canadians, and Canadian policy-makers, take a closer look at some of the domestic issues that are also giving rise to these kinds of events,” he said.

Lee said Canada has many of the same “underlying structural conditions” that are a big part of the reason that shootings happen in the U.S.: “impoverished neighbourhoods; communities of colour that are marginalized from the key mainstream institutions that give people a leg up in the world; disparate access to higher education and opportunity in the labour market.”