Children and Safety in Our Cities

by Gord Hume

I like to think that Canadian towns and cities have a deep and abiding commitment to the safety of the children in their communities.

That is why I find it so shocking that a child in Florida is shot every 17 hours.

That's right. Every 17 hours in this state, a child is shot. Every day, more or less.

The Tampa Bay Times has been devoting much of its front pages this week to their stunning in-depth research and reporting over child shootings. Bravo to the investigative reporters and the newspaper for investing the resources necessary to reveal these startling truths.

It gets even worse and more upsetting: Nearly 220 children UNDER 5 YEARS OF AGE were shot between 2010 and 2015. That's nearly one every week. 

Many of these were accidents in the home a child shooting her or himself, or a sibling finding a gun in the home and pulling the trigger and shooting a brother or sister. 

An eyes-wide-open innocent Canadian watching this debate would think there is a logical solution reduce the number of hand-guns in the homes and on the streets.

I would be wrong. 

The solution offered by the powerful NRA and their legislative handmaidens is to increase the number of guns and where they are available. In other words, expand the legal-carry zones.

For example, reveals the Times in a front page story yesterday, "We could do away with gun-free zones," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, naming a key piece of the National Rifle Association's agenda in Florida."

Gun free zones in Florida are places like schools. Elementary schools. High schools. Where concealed guns aren't permitted. In theory.

The argument by the Senator and some others is that these zones should be eliminated because no one is armed to protect students against a gunman arriving in that area and opening fire. That makes those areas less safe, the theory goes.

Lord knows the US has suffered through enough mass shootings and random killings. Whenever that happens, gun sales usually rise. It seems counter-intuitive to an outside observer, but that is the reality of politics and the streets down here.

Democrats in the Florida legislature are proposing to hold adults more responsible and tighten the existing law. That current law holds adults criminally liable if (when?) a child finds a gun in the house and uses it. 

The Republican approach seems to be more guns, more often. It is going to be an interesting two-month Florida legislature sitting.

No lawmaker, to the best of my research so far, is proposing that maybe fewer guns would result in less accidental shootings and deaths. 

I keep thinking back to my four terms on City Council in London. We had a lot of interesting and important debates...never did we have one on guns and kids and home safety. Or gun free zones' in schools. 

It is a startling and stark reminder of certain fundamental differences between our friends in America and the people of Canada. 

I haven't heard of a young child being shot in Florida so far this week. But it is only mid-week. 

What a sad thought.

Gord Hume


Gord Hume is recognized as one of Canada's leading voices on municipal government and is an articulate and thoughtful commentator on civic government and community issues. He is a very popular public speaker, an advisor to municipal governments, and a respected and provocative author.

Gord was elected to London City Council four times. He has had a distinguished career in Canadian business, managing radio stations and as Publisher of a newspaper. Gord received two “Broadcaster of the Year' awards. He is now President of Hume Communications Inc., a professional independent advisor to municipalities.

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