There will be no easy solutions to gun violence

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL. The city of Montreal and its police department have a formidable task in combating gun violence.

At the end of a Montreal forum on the issue on Thursday, both Mayor Valerie Plante and Metropolitan Police Director Sylvain Caron acknowledged that action must be taken in the short term, but especially in the long term, to address this issue. .

As such, Director Caron explained that SPVM had to invest more in social media, where in recent years, especially during the pandemic, the presence of firearms has literally exploded.

“There are people who are locked up and have had time in front of them to take over social media,” said Sylvain Caron, while pointing out that this increase has several other complex reasons.

Since then, the number of social media firearm files that were virtually non-existent in 2018 has since increased, according to Detective Sergeant Maya Aliye, head of cyber investigations at SPVM. As such, it reported a 68% increase in the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

This online presence of firearms, once limited to the more hard-to-reach “dark web”, is now showing up on the shared networks of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube. On the one hand, we see young people showing off the weapons they glorify, as well as the sale of firearms and videotapes of gun crimes.

Thus, director Caron sees the role of SPVM on these platforms: “Our observation is that we need to be much more present (on social media), not only in suppression, but also in prevention.

Mr. Caron also said that he was very concerned about the appearance of ghost weapons, weapons made with 3D printers, a new reality that has recently appeared in the metropolis. The culture of trivialization of violence is also a source of concern for all concerned.

In the long term, Mayor Plante argued that there was a need to invest in housing in the hardest-hit areas so that young people would have interesting jobs and activities that would really suit their needs and especially their tastes. The logic of this approach is to improve the quality of life and the path offered to young people.

“The city of Montreal will continue to work on housing because this is one of the challenges. When we talk about social determinants that encourage or can lead to violence, crime, it’s housing, food insecurity, lack of jobs, it’s the quality of sports infrastructure and parks. Everything in everything,” she scored.

“What we want in the first place is to create a living environment in which young people are motivated, dream and believe that they can fully participate in society.”

“Organized crime is changing, and so are we,” the mayor said.

To this end, the city of Montreal is announcing three commitments, beginning with the creation of a $2 million “special youth fund” over two years, an amount that will go towards projects run by and for young people. These are, in particular, social, sports and cultural activities or activities proposed by young people in cooperation with social organizations.

Second, starting in 2023, Montreal will allocate $5 million from its joint budget to infrastructure projects such as sports facilities, mountain bike trails, green alley projects, or urban farming.

Finally, $400,000 will be used to set up a telephone support line for families and a campaign to promote existing violence prevention resources.

Attending the forum, Federal Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino was again challenged by Ms. Plante, who has been calling for a law to ban firearms for years. The minister still did not want to follow this path.