Following a deadly mass shooting in Toronto on Sunday night, Canadians are asking questions about what many are perceiving as a rise in violent crime in the city.
In April, a van attack by a militant mysogynist in the city left ten people dead. But while large-scale attacks make international headlines, they are part of a much more complicated trend.
In fact, gun-related crimes have climbed dramatically in frequency in Canada's largest city. According to statistics from the Toronto police department, gun-related fatalities are already double what they were by the same time last year.
This rise in crime is not just limited to Toronto, as many outlets have reported. Data from Statistics Canada shows that police reports nationwide have multiplied in number.
While Canada occupies a special place in the world imagination as a safe haven for thoe seeking refuge, especially in contrast to the United States, it, too, is plagued with systemic issues that can produce spikes in violence. But on one issue in particular Canada has prided itself: the strict guns laws that prevent the kind of daily violence experienced in the United States.
But while these rules limit the movement and use of guns within the country, the border with the United States remains a porous boundary for the flow of illegal firearms.
Gun smuggling across the U.S. Canada border is a lucrative trade. The plethora and easy access of firearms in the United States and the low availability of weapons in Canada make the northern country a valuable market.
The gun trade has been on the radar of federal authorities for years. In 2016, the government invested one hundred million dollars to investigate the gun trade. That investment of resources has lead to an increase in arrests, including that of one man earlier this year who admitted to smuggling handguns into Canada.
But while the illegal gun trade accounts for most of the flow of firearms across the border, common ignorance is also a problem. Americans accustomed to liberal gun regulations and ignorant of Canadian laws regularly attempt to bring their firearms across the border. Just this past week, the Canada Border Services Agency issued a warning on their social media pages to American travellers to "leave your guns at home."
The availability of guns from the United States certainly contributes to the recent rise in violence in Canada but does not explain it entirely. Canadian officials will have to address root issues relating to inequality to solve the problem. But a crackdown on American guns is a good place to start to curb the alarming spike in violence.
Amid such calls, border security may become even more strict. Aggressive American foreign policy has already made the U.S.-Canada border a site where tensions between the two countries become manifest. American border agents can seize Canadians' cellphones, ban marijuana-smokers for life, and have even executed incursions into Canada-claimed waters.
Harsher enforcement of Canadian gun laws at the border will likely only further strain relations between the two countries. Seizures of American guns will probably also agitate the pro-gun lobbyists and politicians that pervade the Trump administration.
An escalation of the conflict with the United States is imminent.