Professor Jooyoung Lee spoke with Ginella Massa on Canada Tonight – CBC News about Canada’s recent ban on targeted firearms. The Canadian government recently announced its plans to implement its voluntary gun buy back program. Professor Lee expressed concerns over the effectiveness of this program. He explains that voluntary gun buy back programs are often unsuccessful due to targeting the wrong gun owner. Typically, these programs only receive guns from law abiding citizens looking for a small amount of money in return. Illegal gun traffickers and illegal gun users are not the ones using this program. Professor Lee added that the type of gun targeted in this program is the semi automatic rifle due to its common use in mass shootings in the US. However, this does not address the problem in Canada since the majority of gun violent crimes are committed with the use of handguns.
Professor Lee suggested that to address gun violence the government needs to address the root causes of violence. Social research shows that combating urban poverty and racial marginalization would reduce gun violence significantly. The government should be investing in communities that are hit hardest by gun violence and create safety nets for urban youth in these areas. Investing in educational opportunities, mentoring opportunities, and supporting community organizations that are already active would better address the issue.
Furthermore, a Canadian handgun ban needs to be at the national level. Gun traffickers travel and will take advantage of areas within the country less suited to deal with gun trafficking. Leaving the decision for gun bans up to municipal governments will only create loop holes that gun traffickers will exploit. Professor Lee believes that parts of the bill that address all Canada-US border trafficking look promising and puts the country on the right track to reduce gun violence.
JooYoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto St. George campus, faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, and Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project. His research interests are focused around how gun violence transforms the social worlds and health of young Black men in different contexts. His current work examines how murder transforms families and communities; how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction; and a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Julian Tanner and Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto.
You can watch the full CBC News interview here.