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Montreal to host forum in January on ways to reduce gun violence in the city

Montreal is planning to host a forum in January on ways to reduce gun violence, following a recent rise in gun-related crime and a series of high-profile shootings this year in the city.
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Montreal is planning to host a forum in January on ways to reduce gun violence, following a recent rise in gun-related crime and a series of high-profile shootings this year in the city.

The goal of the forum is for participants to come up with ways to address gun violence and to better understand organized crime, Mayor Valérie Plante told reporters on Monday.

"Of course, it is not the forum that will ensure that tomorrow morning, things will change or that there won't be any more incidents involving firearms," Plante said. "I think we need to think collectively." She said invitees to the Jan. 26-27 event will include city officials, police and community leaders.

News on the forum came two weeks after 16-year-old Thomas Trudel was shot and killed in the city's St-Michel district, not far from his home — the third teenager in Montreal murdered this year. Sixteen-year-old Jannai Dopwell-Bailey was stabbed outside his Montreal high school on Oct. 18 and died in hospital. Fifteen-year-old Meriem Boundaoui was murdered in a drive-by shooting last February.

The number of crimes involving guns in Montreal is on the rise. Montreal police statistics indicate that between 2019 and 2020, crimes against people involving firearms rose by 14 per cent. While deadly shootings dropped to five from 10, attempted murders rose to 57 from 33. The number of guns seized by police rose to 744 in 2020, a 24 per cent increase.

Montreal police deputy director Vincent Richer told the news conference that participation at the forum by members of Montreal's diverse communities is crucial toward addressing gun culture.

"If we want to tackle this culture of violence, we have to go deeper into reasons for the phenomenon," Richer said. 

Plante said she will continue to call on the federal government to ban handguns and to tighten border controls. Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Plante briefly met at Montreal City Hall. Plante said she told Trudeau that a handgun ban should apply across the country.

The Liberals' recent throne speech included a pledge to work with provinces that want to ban handguns, representing a shift from the Trudeau government's initial plan to grant that authority to individual cities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 29, 2021. 

Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press