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Monday, April 14, 2008

Gang Membership On The Rise Across Canada

According to statistics Canada, the rate of young people using guns in violent crimes has risen 32 percent since 2002. Some estimates show that there are between 11,000 to 14,000 gang members under the age of 21 across the country,
The estimate, by Chettleburgh, shows that number is up from 7,000 in the 2002 Police Survey on Youth Gangs.

Within 48 hours of the Toronto Mayor, David Miller, launching a campaign to have all handguns banned in Canada, three shootings have been recorded in that city.

The campaign's centre-piece is an online petition posted on the City's website ([url=] which will enable Canadians from coast to coast to coast to join the call for a Canada-wide handgun ban. A print-friendly version of the petition is also available on the website for individuals and groups that wish to canvas their neighbourhoods and

That campaign has led to another campaign, one to counter Miller's gun ban petition, with an Anti-Gun ban petition being launched on the Internet as well, in English and in French.

Youths joining gangs is rising as is the violent crime rate associated with those gang members.

In Calgary, two men were injured and the Calgary police are hunting for tips in those two shootings and according to Calgary police, neither shooting was a random act and it is being blamed on gangs when they say that it is the latest example of, "blatant disregard gang members have for innocent members of the community who could have been hit by errant bullets."

Vancouver police say there have been 14 gang related homicides since January and in Edmonton, authorities have logged a series of gang related shootings, in that same time frame.

In Winnipeg, a 15-year-old street gang member was one of three charged in a triple murder after masked shooters opened fire at a house party and according to police in that case, those shootings were between the Central - a youth-oriented street gang - and Indian Posse gangs..

Last year, several highly public "gangland style" shootings at restaurants, along with the deaths of two innocent bystanders during a targeted drug related hit at a Surrey apartment, spurred police to create a multi-jurisdictional gang unit.

That Gang Unit is 6 months old and called the Uniform Gang Task Force. It consists of 60 officers from Vancouver and surrounding areas and according to the Vancouver police inspector, Dean Robinson, it is in the process of becoming a permanent fixture.

What Robinson is most worried about is the type of weapons they are seeing as they confiscate illegal weapons and he says, "We've gone from seeing fairly unsophisticated revolvers, to semi automatic pistols to hunting rifles sawed off, to machine guns and military-grade assault rifles."

Those types of weapons are a far cry from the handguns that Miller is trying to have banned across Canada and some wonder whether banning handguns is any more than a feel good policy that will have very little if any effect on the actual problem itself.

Many seem to think that funding programs that would help stop the youths of Canada from joining gangs to begin with, would be far more effective than a handgun ban, and yet Chettleburgh maintains that those types of programs that target early intervention are suffering from a "chronic underfunding."

The statistics from the Toronto Police show that In the first three months of this year, police recovered 529 firearms, 137 of which were handguns. In the same time frame for 2007, there were 533 firearms recovered and 131 were handguns and in 2006, there were 741 firearms and 168 were handguns.