Gun Violence in London With violent crime steadily rising in the Forest City, what role do guns play in our lives? and is there a solution in sight?

There is a gun problem in London, Ontario. A place that was once called "the serial killer capital of the world" has seen an unwavering increase in gun violence since 2014. Debates regarding gun control have intensified in the wake of recent mass shootings in North America, and the statistics raise valid points for why the conversation needs to happen right here in the Forest City.

In 2016, there was an increase in both aggravated assault and, you guessed it, gun offences. The London area, which includes St. Thomas, Strathroy and surrounding OPP-policed municipalities, ranked 13th among 33 Canadian metropolitan areas in terms of severe crime. Out of those 13 cities, London is the 2nd highest in Ontario.

The Problem

The results from a London Police raid on a home last week.

Just last week, London Police seized guns, ammunition, a bulletproof vest and drugs valued at more than $109,000 from a London home.

The raid is one of several gun-related incidents that have plagued London in the past few months. In a stretch of six days in early October, there were four crimes of gun violence. According to the London Free Press, the following incidents took place between Oct. 9 and 14:

  • A man armed with a gun robbed a Dundas Street gas station in London on Saturday before fleeing in a Corvette reported stolen that was later tracked to an east-end parking lot, where police arrested the suspect leaving a nearby strip club.
  • Three days earlier, the OPP seized a loaded handgun and cocaine after they spotted a London man with a gas container walking across six lanes of traffic on the Highway 401, just east of the city.
  • On Oct. 10, a group of suspects, one of them armed with a gun, stole a car from a Mornington Avenue apartment during a home invasion. Niagara police arrested four people, including a 13-year-old the next day, after the car crashed on the Queen Elizabeth Parkway in St. Catharines.
  • On Thanksgiving, two roommates said a man with what appeared to be a handgun tucked into his waistband broke into their Thurman Circle home, near Fanshawe College, and stole cash, clothing and electronics. When the residents went outside to confront the fleeing suspect, they were attacked by a waiting mob of young men.
Infographic detailing violent crime in London.

Along with the increase in gun crime in London, robbery and assault statistics have also shown a steady increase. The general trend here is that violent crime decreased from 2010 to 2013, but has steadily risen ever since.

Gun violence in London is happening almost daily. On Dec. 6, a 31-year old London man was charged with attempted murder in connection with a shooting at an after-hours party on Nixon Avenue. The victim is in critical condition in a London hospital.

Even so, London Police still say it's too early to assume that increasing crime rates is a sign that more illegal weapons are hitting the street. But the underlying numbers are hard to ignore.


According to research done by Toronto based law firm O'Neill Moon Quedado LLP, there were 237 crimes involving weapons in London in 2011. This number jumped to 280 in 2013, and reached 331 in 2015.

Robbery (left) and assault (right) statistics in London.

How does London compare to other cities?

In late 2016, Statistics Canada released their annual police-reported crime statistics, and London did not fare well. The rate of severe and overall crimes in the London region jumped in 2016 by more than the national average. The Crime Severity Index (CSI) and the overall crime rate in the London area both increased by five per cent, according to the data.

The CSI measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada. In 2016, Canada's CSI increased by 1% from 2015. London's CSI jumped 5%. In fact, Ontario was one of only four provinces that saw a CSI increase.

London's CSI grew by five times the national average in 2016, and based on the city's prolific violent crime in 2017, this year should see an even higher increase. As of 2016, London's CSI is at 68.4%, making it greater than any other city in Ontario besides Brantford. At a CSI score of 86.8, Brantford saw a 13% increase from 2016.

London's 68.4% CSI makes it higher than much larger cities in Ontario, including Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Kingston. The full breakdown can be found below.

Where are guns coming from?

People are using guns to commit violent crimes in London, but how are they getting access to these firearms? In an interview with the London Free Press, Det.-Insp. Paul Waight attributed access to firearms to three key areas:

  1. Guns are stolen during break-ins.
  2. Guns are smuggled into Canada from the United States.
  3. Someone purchases a gun legally, and then that person sells the gun illegally to a third party.

London Police seized 70 firearms between Jan. 1 and June 30; it wouldn't be surprising if that number reaches 100 by the end of the year. Waight stresses that there are many roadblocks in the process of getting a firearm in Canada, as opposed to regulations in the United States.

Things are much different south of the border; a study by Small Arms Survey found that, per 100 people, 90 Americans own a firearm, as opposed to only 31 Canadians. The levels of gun violence in the U.S. have historically been much higher than in Canada, but this doesn't explain the rash of violent incidents in London.

Firearm ownership in 15 countries, 2007.

How are people getting them?

It raises the question: how do Canadians go about legally acquiring a firearm? It's quite a complicated process, according to Mat Rokicki. Rokicki is a London citizen planning to begin training to become a RCMP officer next year. He also owns seven guns.

I spoke to Rokicki about the process of obtaining a gun legally, how difficult it is to get one in London, and the perception people have about those who own guns for recreational purposes.

"As someone who went through the legal process of acquiring a firearms license, I am able to walk into a gun shop, present my Possession and Acquisition License, and purchase any non-restricted or restricted firearm," he explains.

"The firearms I personally own and possess are not weapons, they are [guns] first and foremost. A firearm, like any other inanimate object, becomes a weapon when it is used on or against another human being."

You can listen to the entire interview below.

Rokicki is a gun owner who believes firearms can be owned safely and responsibly. And he isn't the only person who feels this way. Although generally when people hear the word gun they immediately think of violence, there are people who want to embrace gun culture in Canada.

"A firearm, like any other inanimate object, becomes a weapon when it is used on or against another human being."

John Evers is one of those people. He believes that the culture surrounding firearms is threatened in Canada, especially by the rising levels of gun crime in the United States. He stands by the 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' argument. His shooting range is located in Aylmer, just a few minutes south of London.

Map of the Greater London Region

Evers attempted to portray his love for guns to the CBC's Nick Purdon. If it were up to him, everyone would have one.

"I have the right to have my guns. My culture is at stake; they want me gone," he explains.

The story, which presents an insightful look into a gun owner's paradise, can be seen below.

The Solution?

There's no easy solution to decreasing gun-related crime in London. But there are steps that can be taken. And it starts at the highest level.

“Too many young people have been killed and too many communities have been marred by gun crime and gun violence. It doesn’t have to be this way."

In a press release from Nov. 17, the Canadian government pledged $327.6 million over five years, and $100 million annually thereafter, in new funding to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun crime. The full media release can be read below.

As Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said, “Too many young people have been killed and too many communities have been marred by gun crime and gun violence. It doesn’t have to be this way. By working together, we can make our communities safer through greater enforcement, collaboration and prevention. The federal government is making major new investments to tackle this scourge and will bring all levels of government and our partners together to confront this problem."

Ralph Goodale.

Although many believe guns can be owned and used safely, public opinion still says otherwise. Firearm-related crime continues to plague London. It's too early to tell if gun-related violence will continue its increase in the Forest City, but the statistics don't lie: London is a dangerous city.


1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/london-ont-was-world-s-serial-killer-capital-uwo-prof-1.3207957

2. https://omqlaw.ca/gun-violence-london-ontario-2011-2016/

3. http://www.lfpress.com/2017/10/17/firearms-police-say-its-too-early-to-say-if-the-rash-of-crimes-involving-guns-is-a-sign-that-more-illegal-weapons-are-hitting-the-street

4. http://www.lfpress.com/2017/10/20/eight-people-charged-after-rcmp-london-police-seize-drugs-guns-and-money

5. https://www.londonpolice.ca/en/about/Other-Crime-Statistics.aspx

6. https://globalnews.ca/news/2378037/gun-violence-by-the-numbers-how-america-canada-and-the-world-compare/

7. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2017/11/major_new_federalfundingandsummittotacklegunviolenceandgangactiv.html

8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_RFKfbGcXE

Created By
Colin Gallant


Created with images by mwewering - "gun hand gun weapon"

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