Evelyn Fox says she never thought gun violence would affect her family, until her son was killed by a stray bullet in 2016.

“It has devastated all of us,” she said.

Fox is now an advocate for gun violence prevention and was one of the organizers of last Saturday’s March For Our Lives in Toronto. The march, sparked by last month’s school shooting in Parkand, Fla., was one of approximately 800 marches held around the world in support of victims of gun violence.

Toronto’s March For Our Lives, March 24. Credit: Dana Dwaik

While attention is often placed on gun violence south of the border, Fox says Canada is not immune to the problem.

“I think so many Canadians marched because they are tired of hearing about the escalating violence in their neighbourhoods. They see people who are not the ‘targeted’ person being killed and are scared for the safety of their children. Gun violence on the streets of Toronto has escalated in the past three years.”

Fox said better legislation is needed to address the issue, including “changes to the background checks of those wanting to obtain a gun licence and purchase a gun; limiting the number of weapons a person can [obtain]; ensuring that the purchasers are properly storing their weapons; [and] ensuring retailers keep solid records of guns purchased.”

Beyond changes to gun laws, she said the justice system needs to be tougher on those convicted of weapons-related offences and that more funding should be dedicated to community-based youth programs that intervene before youth enter the criminal justice system.

 In 2017, there were 590 victims of gun violence with varying levels of injury. This year, there have been 75 shootings and 101 victims so far.

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