Professor Jooyoung Lee interviewed on The Social, “Does Canada need better gun control?”

PJooyoung Leerofessor Jooyoung Lee has recently been featured on a segment for The Social talking about the long-term health care needs of gunshot victims in the US and Canada; and the efficacy of common sense gun laws. The Social is a television program produced by Bell Media Studios that describes itself as bringing “a fresh, daily perspective on up-to-the-minute news, pop culture, and lifestyle topics that matter most.” Professor Lee’s research is broadly interested in how gun violence transforms the social worlds of families and communities. According to Lee, the rates of violence in Canada are lower than the U.S., but they could be better.  In terms of victimization, racialized young men are the most likely to become victims in both the U.S. and Canada.

Jooyoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology and faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, which is housed within the Munk School of Global Affairs. He is also a Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project and was formerly a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

The full segment can be viewed here.

Congratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee, recipient of Charles Cooley Book Award

Jooyoung LeeCongratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee who recently received the Charles Cooley Book Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction for his book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central. Professor Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus. His research interests range from gun violence, health disparities, gangs, emotions, creativity, and Hip Hop culture.

Blowin’ Up provides an account of aspiring rappers who attended Project Blowed workshops in LA. The book explores the training behind rappers’ work to construct their style, as well as the meaning that rappers attach to their creative work.  The committee described Professor Lee’s book as “a superbly written and insightful five-year long ethnography of hip-hop artists in South Central Los Angeles.” They also noted that his book “offer(s) new avenues to interpret hip-hop as a meaningful and transformative art form.”

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 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.”




Congratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee on the 2018 Charles Horton Cooley Book Award!

Professor Jooyoung Lee’s book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central, recently received the 2018 Charles Horton Cooley Book Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI). According to SSSI’s website, this award is given annually to an author for a book that represents an important contribution to the perspective of symbolic interaction.

Jooyoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto.  Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central, is a long-term ethnographic study of young Black men growing up in the shadows of gang violence and the glittering entertainment industries in Los Angeles. This book shows how hip hop culture shields young men from the dangers of gang violence. It also reveals the larger structural forces that inspire “existential urgency” during the transition to adulthood. His current research looks at gun violence in Philadelphia and Toronto.

More information on Professor Lee’s award winning book can be found here from the University of Chicago Press.

Professor Jooyoung Lee in Vice Canada: 3 Gun Violence Scholars on What is Missing from America’s Gun Control Debate

An article written by Professor Jooyoung Lee was published on Professor Lee and two other scholars, Joseph Richardson Jr. and Desmond Patton, discuss grief, intersectionality, and the role of social media in the wake of Parkland, among other potentially overlooked issues in the current debate.

Professor Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and his research focuses on the impact of gun violence on victims and their communities.

We have posted a short excerpt below. The full article is available here at

Three Gun Violence Scholars on What is Missing from America’s Gun Control Debate

May 24, 2018

But there is room for hope after Parkland. Since that tragedy, we’ve witnessed the birth of the #NeverAgain movement and the #MarchForOurLives, both of which have led to small policy changes. The Republican-led Congress recently voted to reinstate funding to the CDC for gun violence research; state governments like Florida have already passed laws banning bumpstocks while raising the age (from 18 to 21) for buying a firearm; companies like MEC have severed ties with brands that do business with the NRA; and multimedia giant YouTube recently announced that they would prohibit people from posting DIY gun-making videos. Even if these motions don’t lead to drastic reductions in gun violence, they represent small symbolic steps toward sensible gun control laws. They show that people on both sides of the aisle don’t want to sit idly and wait for another mass shooting to happen.

But, in spite of these developments, the conversation about gun violence remains narrowly focused on mass shootings, which account for about three percent of the annual homicides committed with firearms in the US. Lost in all of the news coverage is a sustained discussion about gun violence in black communities, who are disproportionately at risk of getting injured or killed in shootings. African Americans account for roughly 50 percent of the gunshot victims in the US, even though they only account for 12 percent of the US population.

Read the full article here.



U of T Sociologists discuss the Toronto Yonge and Finch van attack

Professors Judith Taylor and Jooyoung Lee spoke on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken to discuss the possible motivations behind the Toronto van attack and the role of toxic masculinity in violent acts.

In the half-hour segment, Professors Taylor and Lee join also with Osgoode Hall’s Jamil Jivani in their discussion with Steve Paiken.

The video of the segment titled, “When Mayhem Comes to Town” is available online here at the TVO website.

Professor Taylor has also spoken with CBC and with CTV and Professor Lee was interviewed and cited by Global News regarding the van attack in Toronto earlier this week.

Continuing coverage: Professor Judith Taylor in Macleans Magazine and Sociology Professor and Vice Provost, Students Sandy Welsh in U of T News re the Vigil on Sunday at Mel Lastman square.

Professor Jooyoung Lee pens Toronto Star Op Ed on damage to community trust in policing

Jooyoung LeeProfessor Jooyoung Lee recently authored an Op Ed  in the Toronto Star discussing the diminishing reputation of the Toronto police force as more news emerges about the Bruce McArthur investigation. Professor Lee teaches sociology at the St. George campus. His research interests include gun violence and he has taught classes on the sociology of serial murders.

We have posted an excerpt of the op ed below. The full article is available at

Toronto police risk permanent damage to community trust

The Toronto Police Service will need to come clean, admit to its shortcomings, and reach out to the communities that it has alienated across the city.

By Jooyoung Lee
Mon., March 12, 2018

…..I have spent the last decade observing firsthand what happens in cities where police have lost the trust of communities. My research in gangland “South Central” Los Angeles and in Philadelphia’s underground drug markets reveals how communities become alienated from the police — these are places where any perceived affiliation with the cops is frowned upon and sometimes punishable by violence.

Although Toronto is certainly not suffering from the same levels of violence I observed in these communities, there is cause for concern moving forward. If the police don’t clear the air and make amends to communities that feel betrayed by them, people will become less likely to report crimes and co-operate with them during investigations. There are already communities in Toronto where this “code of silence” exists. We don’t want this to spread.

The pioneering Canadian sociologist, Erving Goffman, spent much of his career writing about spoiled reputations. He showed that people work hard at managing public impressions because negative reputations are so durable. Once seen in a negative light, it becomes difficult for a person to reestablish themselves as trustworthy and morally upstanding. To make amends, Goffman argued, people have to show they can be trusted again in the future.

Even though Goffman was writing about individuals, he can help us understand the challenges ahead for Toronto police. TPS will need to come clean, admit to its shortcomings, and reach out to the communities that it has alienated across the city. These include the LGBTQ community, racialized communities, and citizens who are concerned about how they’ve handled the McArthur investigation….

Read the full article.

Professor Jooyoung Lee Interviewed on CBC’s The National

Professor Jooyoung Lee appeared in an interview on CBC News’ The National, discussing the differential treatment of marginalized groups by the media and police, in light of the recent arrest and charging of a man in relation to the deaths of two LGBTQ men from the Church Wellesley community. According to reporters, members of the community have expressed criticism for the initial lack of attention that disappearances in the community had received.

Professor Lee is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. His research involves studying the effect gun violence on youth and communities.

Watch the interview here. The story begins at 18:55.

Professor Jooyoung Lee featured in The Hamilton Spectator

Jooyoung LeeProfessor Jooyoung Lee from U of T St. George’s Sociology Department was recently featured in a news article in The Hamilton Spectator weighing in on the recent rise in gun violence in Hamilton, Ontario. The article examines increasing statistics on crime and gun violence in Hamilton. Professor Lee outlines some reasons why people carry guns and methods through which guns are obtained by Canadians. Professor Lee teaches sociology at the St. George campus. His research involves studying the effects of gun violence on Black young men.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Gun violence on the rise in Hamilton

NEWS Dec 27, 2017 by Nicole O’Reilly

Hamilton police believe there are more guns on city streets.

The evidence is in the numbers: 40 shootings this year.

The concerning statistic marks a rapid escalation of gun violence in this city, with shootings doubling year over year for the last several years. There were 22 shootings in 2016, 14 in 2015 and seven in 2014.

Four of this year’s shootings have been deadly, including the last three successive homicides between October and December.

“I think there are more guns on the street and more people to use them,” said Hamilton police Supt. Ryan Diodati, of the investigative services division.

Yet there is no singular reason for the increase in guns or shootings, or a clear indication if the trend will continue, he added.

These guns — typically illegal handguns — are often used not just in shootings, but in robberies and home invasions, which have also seen increases in specific areas.

…There is a whole school of research into why people carry guns — in particular handguns.

Most drug dealers are armed, but drug dealers aren’t the only people carrying guns, said Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto who has extensively studied the people’s experience with gun violence.

“The No. 1 reason why young people want to get a gun … the biggest reason is for protection,” he said.

Often young people, especially in marginalized communities, don’t feel safe and don’t have faith in police, he added.

Other reasons for carrying a gun include status and being involved in a particular argument or “beef.” Some marginalized youth who do not have good opportunities to “move up in the world” can see having a gun as a status symbol.

“Being perceived as tough or perhaps violent is its own form of social capital … a stand-in for other markers of achievement,” Lee said.

Accessing guns illegally is as easy as a drive over the border to a state with loose gun laws in the United States. The Hollywood movie-esque scene of traffickers hauling a huge shipment of illegal guns is not common, he said. What is common is people buying a couple of guns, perhaps at a gun show in Ohio where you don’t have to show ID, and smuggling them back to Canada illegally.

Illegal guns here tend to get passed around and can be shared within a criminal group, Lee said. Often being part of a criminal group means you get access to a cache of weapons. A spike in shootings can mean many things — that there are more guns available, or that there may be rivalry between rival groups.

“The other thing we know is that these patterns vary year to year,” Lee said. “It’s hard to abstract away from that and say that it’s predictive of a longer-term trend.”

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee on Serial Killers and Marginalized Communities

Sociology Professor Jooyoung Lee was recently quoted in an article in the Toronto Metro. The article reported on the arrest and charges of a man in relation to the deaths of two men from the Church and Wellesley community in Toronto. Both victims were also members of the LGBTQ community. Professor Lee is quoted in the article, discussing the difficulty marginalized groups face in receiving police and media attention, making them more likely to be targeted by serial killers.

Professor Lee teaches sociology at the U of T St. George Campus, including courses such as the Sociology of Serial Homicide. His research involves studying the effects of gun violence on Black youth and communities.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Serial killers target people from marginalized communities, experts say

“Serial killers are opportunists and this is part of the reason why they target marginalized groups,” said Jooyoung Lee, of the University of Toronto.

Serial killers often target people from marginalized groups because of the lack of attention their cases receive from media and law enforcement, experts say.

“This is something we see time and time again,” said Jooyoung Lee, an expert on serial killers at the University of Toronto. “Serial killers are opportunists and this is part of the reason why they target marginalized groups.

“They know that people who are from marginalized populations won’t get the same attention, whether they are marginalized for their sexuality, gender or their race.”

Toronto police arrested a man Thursday and charged him with the deaths of two men. Police say they believe there are more victims, leavng Torontonians to wonder if the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen were the work of a serial killer.

Both men were from the Church and Wellesley community and both were members of the LGBTQ community.

Bruce McArthur, 66, a self-employed landscaper, was charged in the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. Investigators have said they believe there are more victims.

McArthur appeared to be connected on Facebook to Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, one of three middle-aged men active in the Church and Wellesley area who went missing between 2010 and 2012. The others were Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi, and Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan.

Police haven’t labelled McArthur a serial killer. But they didn’t discourage use of the term, saying it was up to the media to decide.

Lee said he could not comment on the McArthur case because there is no conviction yet.

However, he said that, generally speaking, serial killers target people from certain groups or communities.

“Sometimes there is evidence that they target a certain type of people and it becomes a very ritualistic thing, where they continuously look for that certain type of victim; once they find them, that becomes their obsession,” he said.

“In other cases, it really is a matter of practical access; they were around; they were easy victims; they were people who they had access to.”

He added: “It really comes down to the pragmatics of murder; serial killers are often very smart and intelligent and they target communities that won’t get the attention.”

Lee said that if McArthur is guilty and has targeted members of the LGBTQ community, the case really “underscores the frustration this community has, because they think police are not really taking their concerns seriously.”

“What we see is that people from marginalized groups don’t get that same kind of attention until something like this comes to light,” he said.

Read the full article here.


Professor Jooyoung Lee Interviewed in Black Perspectives

Professor Jooyoung Lee was recently interviewed on the blog Black Perspectives about his book, Blowin’ UpRap Dreams in South Central. In the interview Professor Lee discusses the research, methods, and inspiration for his book, which is an ethnographic study of the lives of young Black men in Los Angeles and how they are affected by gang violence, the entertainment industry, and hip-hop culture. Professor Lee teaches sociology at the U of T St. George campus. His research explores the effects of gun violence on the lives of young Black men.

Black Perspectives is the official blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). We have posted an excerpt of the interview below.

Rap Dreams in South Central: An Interview with Jooyoung Lee

Darryl Robertson: Please tell us more about your research. Who or what inspired the research for your book, Blowin’ up: Rap Dreams in South Central?

Jooyoung Lee:Blowin’ Up is inspired by my lifelong love of Hip Hop culture. I grew up in Southern California during the early 1990s, and like many adolescent boys, I was a huge fan of gangsta rap. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic was one of the first albums that I owned. I bought it with my allowance money and listened to it non-stop. Even though I didn’t grow up around the stuff described in this music, gangsta rap and other kind of Hip Hop music got me thinking critically about American history and the marginalization of people of color. Hip Hop music also inspired me to get into Djing and pop-lockin’, which became huge parts of my young adult life. In other words, Blowin’ Up is a small ode of appreciation to Hip Hop. It’s one way that I can give back to a culture that has been a source of positivity in my life.

Robertson: How would you summarize the major contributions and interventions of your book? Why is it important to understanding the history of hip-hop in the United States?

Lee: At its core, Blowin’ Up is about the challenges of growing up in low-income African American neighborhoods across “South Central” Los Angeles. While much of the sociological research on urban poor African Americans discusses the conditions that cause unemployment, incarceration, and other negative outcomes, I wanted to tell a different story–one about hope, creativity, and resiliency. Hip Hop culture provides a very important creative outlet for marginalized African American youth. The young men in my book saw Hip Hop as a “creative alternative” to Crip and Blood gangs across “South Central.”

I think this message is critical at this moment, as police and courts continue to criminalize Hip Hop culture and African American youth. In the past few years, prosecutors have tried on numerous occasions to submit rap lyrics as evidence in criminal court proceedings. This is just another example of how our judicial system profiles and marginalizes African American youth. I hope that Blowin’ Up will challenge these larger narratives about Hip Hop culture.

Read the full interview here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee on Zip Guns

Sociology Professor Jooyoung Lee was recently featured in an article by CBC News reporting on the use of a “zip gun” by a Saskatoon man during a confrontation with police. According to Professor Lee although zip guns are relatively uncommon, they are appealing because they are easily made and untraceable by the government’s gun control regulations. Professor Lee teaches sociology at the U of T St. George campus, his research interests include the effect of gun violence on young Black men and communities.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Homemade guns built for less than $20 are ‘up close and personal’ weapons present in Saskatchewan

‘Everyone is accurate at 1 foot away’: Zip guns are rare but dangerous

By Alec Salloum, CBC News Posted: Dec 12, 2017

Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, says there is no one size fits all description of a zip gun user.

Lee focuses on gun violence and the effect it has on young men; specifically young black men in south central Los Angeles.

The attraction of the zip gun is that it is more challenging to trace by authorities.

“People who are making homemade zip guns tend to be people who want to stay out of the crosshairs of the government and who want to circumvent the gun control laws that are already on the books,” said Lee.

The information to actually build a zip gun is everywhere online, said Lee. Videos, articles even a wikiHow are easily found by a simple Google search.

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee’s Research featured in The Atlantic

Professor Jooyoung Lee’s research was recently featured in a piece on “The Hidden Victims of American Gun Violence” published by The Atlantic Magazine. The article discusses the knowledge gap within research concerning non-fatal shooting victims and the implications of this gap for victims and their families, policymakers, and healthcare providers. The article discusses findings from Professor Lee’s research on gunshot victims in Philadelphia to demonstrate the long-term health and rehabilitation issues faced by non-fatal gunshot victims. Professor Lee is a sociology professor at the U of T St. George campus. His research interests involve studying the effects of gun violence on Black male youth.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Americans Don’t Really Understand Gun Violence

Why? Because there’s very little known about the thousands of victims who survive deadly shootings.


The hardships facing those gravely injured in Las Vegas represent a horrific microcosm of gun violence in America generally—horrible deaths provoke widespread reaction, while the wounds of many multiples more take their toll largely unnoticed, unnumbered, and unstudied.

Fatal gun violence is often categorized in ways that make it easy to track and study. That’s how researchers know that the murder rate in the United States has declined steadily over the past three decades. But what about gun violence that does not result in death? That is far trickier to measure. That’s because nonfatal gun violence has mostly been ignored.

Largely ignoring nonfatal shootings means that Americans are both vastly underestimating and misunderstanding gun violence. Underestimating, because researchers are only barely beginning to measure the personal, familial, local, and societal costs of what Kalesan and others estimate are more than a million shooting survivors living in the United States; and misunderstanding, because nonfatal shootings can be quite different from those that result in death.

The dearth of research makes it near impossible to fully illustrate the realities of gun violence to the broader public. As of now, for example, nobody really knows how often people are shot by their intimate partners, how many victims are intended targets or bystanders, how many shootings are in self-defense, how such incidents affect community investment and property values, or how much it costs taxpayers to care for victims. In order to come up with their estimate of a million shooting survivors, Kalesan and her colleagues had to rely on imperfect data from hospital emergency-room reports.

At the University of Toronto, Jooyoung Lee is working on a similar project, writing a book based on his research tracking shooting victims in Philadelphia. Lee has observed, particularly among those shot by hollow-point bullets, that recurring pain can drive shooting victims to opioid addiction. That, in turn, can push them into dangerous situations and risky behavior as they try to feed their habit, which can lead to more trauma, incarceration, or medical intervention—all of which only compound a single gunshot’s effect on an overburdened health-care and criminal-justice system.

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee on Global News about Trump’s moves to weaken US gun laws

Sociology Associate Professor Jooyoung Lee was recently featured on Global News about renewed gun regulation debates in the USA,  in light of the mass shooting in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. In the article, Professor Lee outlines the ways in which the Trump Administration has been weakening gun regulations, such as allowing easier access to guns for those with mental health conditions or those with outstanding arrest warrants. Professor Lee’s research involves gun violence and its effects on the social environments and health of Black youth.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

4 things Donald Trump is doing to loosen gun laws in the U.S.

By Maham Abedi

Gun regulations in the United States are facing renewed scrutiny in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend, which left 58 dead and more than 500 injured…

Just weeks after he became president, Trump signed a bill making it easier for those with mental health conditions to access guns. The law reversed one that Obama signed in December, which added people receiving Social Security mental health checks, and those considered unable to handle their own finances, to the national background-check database.

Trump’s Feb. 28 bill prohibits the Social Security Administration from adding information about such individuals to the database.

The move was done quietly, The Washington Post reports, with many advocacy groups of gun control unaware of the changes until later.

Jooyoung Lee, a University of Toronto associate professor of sociology who studies gun violence, said the reversal of Obama’s law is one way the president is trying to weaken gun control.

“This is one example of Trump and Republicans trying to weaken just very common sense laws.”…

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee unravels NRA gun ownership myths in Maclean’s op-ed

Professor Jooyoung Lee recently published an op ed piece in  Maclean’s magazine reflecting on the American gun lobby in the wake of the October 1st Las Vegas massacre.  Professor Lee notes that the disjuncture between the terrifying realities of mass shootings and the message that the NRA sends to Americans about the value of guns for keeping safe from shootings. Professor Lee is a faculty member at the St. George campus with research expertise in crime and gun violence in the United States. We have posted an excerpt of the article here; the full article is available on the Maclean’s magazine website.

The NRA is wrong: Real life is not an action movie

The NRA has been lying to you. For years, they’ve promoted the same bumper-sticker motto: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” These were the exact words spoken by National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre killed 26, including 20 children. Since then, this saying has taken on a life of its own. It fuels a frontier attitude toward the second amendment and creates unrealistic beliefs amongst gun owners who think they’ll become Dirty Harry when things hit the fan. And, of course, it encourages people to buy more guns.

Trouble is, a close examination of mass shootings—including the recent Las Vegas shooting, which has killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 others—pokes holes in this logic. The video footage seen thus far reveals an ugly truth: Mass shootings are chaotic, scary, and fleeting, and they rarely conform to our dominant cultural images of active-shooter situations—much less the action-hero prospects promised by LaPierre. While shootouts look cool, stylish, and effortless in movies like John Wick or The Tower, reality is a different animal.

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee interviewed on The Bulletin Brief

Professor Jooyoung Lee discusses what he’s looking forward to in the new school year in a recent interview featured on The Bulletin Brief. The Bulletin Brief is a digest featuring news about the staff and faculty across the University of Toronto. The full interview is available on The Bulletin Brief website. We have posted an excerpt below.

Getting Ready for #UofTBackToSchool with Jooyoung Lee

Sept. 6, 2017

By Krisha Ravikantharaja

Jooyoung Lee has a lot to look forward to as a new semester starts. The sociology professor, who recently received tenure, is teaching a third year course called Sociology of Serial Killers and a second year course on qualitative methods. He is also rolling out two new interactive textbooks on the same topics (his textbook on the sociology of serial killers is co-authored with Sasha Reid, a PhD student at OISE). Lee shares how he has been getting ready for the start of the fall semester.

What does the start of the semester mean for you? 
It’s a new beginning.  It’s a chance to grow and expand my teaching repertoire.  I always like to tell students about my somewhat unusual path into academia on the first day of school.  I went to university (at UC Berkeley) on a swimming scholarship and was mostly focused on training.  I swam for three years and then experienced burnout and decided to really focus more on my studies.  This led me down an interesting path where I became a street performer and “popper” or “pop-locker”, which is a style of funk-hip hop dance.

My experiences in the Bay Area dance world got me really interested in researching hip hop culture. I found that I really enjoyed doing ethnographic research, which involves hanging out with people and writing about their lives from an up-close perspective.  I tell them about my path because I want them to see that you can achieve a lot of things even if you aren’t from a certain type of family, or even if you sometimes feel lost.

Read the full interview.

Professor Jooyoung Lee teaches the effects of gun violence in the US

U of T News recently profiled Professor Jooyoung Lee’s course on gun violence in the United States. Professor Lee is teaching this fourth-year seminar on the St. George campus this summer.  This course draws considerably on Professor Lee’s own research into the wide-ranging impacts of gun violence in the U.S.

The following is an excerpt of the U of T News piece.

Gun violence in the U.S.: U of T expert helps undergrads understand school shootings, serial killings and gangs

One year ago today, the United States witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in its history when 49 people were killed and 58 others wounded inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

But like the Sandy Hook kindergarten massacre of 2012, the Pulse shooting failed to bring an end to the widespread availability of guns across the U.S.

Jooyoung Lee, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto is teaching a fourth-year undergraduate course this summer on gun violence in the U.S.

“There’s a bit of insularity when we think of cases of gun violence,” Lee explains. “I wanted to show that everybody is affected in some way by gun culture – all communities, even if some are especially more vulnerable yet get the least attention from the public.”

Lee is one of the first two Bissell-Heyd Fellows at U of T’s Munk School’s Centre for the Study of the United States, who are provided with resources to conduct further research in American studies, while giving them a platform to showcase their work with students and the general public. Just a few weeks ago, Lee organized a workshop on gun violence and its impact on urban Black communities in the U.S.

Lee’s interest in gun violence goes back to his time as a graduate student. Back then, he was writing his dissertation, which would become his first book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central, an ethnographic study of young African American men from South Los Angeles who were trying to make it in the music industry.

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Congratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee on being appointed a Bissell-Heyd Fellow in American Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs

Professor Jooyoung Lee has been named one of the two inaugural Bissell-Heyd Fellows in American Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Professor Lee has been teaching and conducting research in the department of sociology since 2011.  He works in the area of violence and poverty in the United States.

According the Munk Centre website, The Bissell-Heyd Fellowships are intended to:

engage current Assistant/Associate Professors at the University of Toronto in the work of CSUS by providing them with resources to further research that is connected to the enterprise of American Studies, and to give them a platform from which to disseminate or showcase that research.

Professor Lee began the fellowship in 2016.


Jooyoung Lee in London Free Press

Jooyoung Lee is a faculty member in Sociology, teaching at the St. George Campus. His research focuses on gun violence. He spoke with the London Free Press on Wednesday, February 1. The full article is available here. Below is an excerpt.

London police: More weapons seized, but lack of arrests in local gun incidents erodes confidence in cops, says prof

By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press

As gun seizures more than doubled in London last year, police still haven’t made any arrests in a spate of shootings — including one homicide — that have plagued the city over the last half year.

One gun violence expert warns that unsolved shootings not only make citizens feel unsafe, but they also erode their confidence in police.

“When cases go unsolved, they also compound and add to people’s distrust of the police,” said Jooyoung Lee, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

“There’s a lack of faith that police can actually protect people and do their job.”

The unsolved shootings — all of them in the second half of 2016 — left one man dead and two others injured…

(part of the article omitted)
…But Lee says authorities can’t seize their way out of gun-violence problems.“Aside from seizing guns, which is a valuable measure, police also could reduce gun violence by working with community leaders and trying to repair the strained relations with communities that don’t trust them all the time,” said Lee, whose research focuses on street gang members and gunshot victims.

Witnesses to two of the recent London shootings, neither of whom wanted to be identified, said they didn’t fully co-operate with investigators, citing a distrust of police and fear of retribution.

Lee says marginalized communities, where gun violence is more prevalent, often adopt a moral code of not co-operating with authorities — something that police need to crack.

“It’s essential,” he said, “because police rely upon community members to solve cases and they rely on tips and information to do so.”

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