Coalition for Gun Control shows how close you’ve come to a shooting

The non-profit uses police data to drive home urgency around the gun violence debate.

The Coalition for Gun Control has launched a new digital tool in its latest effort to show Toronto residents the urgency around the gun control debate.

The website uses the geo-location and data from the Toronto Police shooting and homicide database to show users how close their current location – or one they enter into the map, such as their home or place of work – has been to a shooting. It gives the distance in metres, as well as tools to share the info on social channels to rally support to sign a petition before the House of Commons to enact stricter gun laws.

The launch of the website, created by Zulu Alpha Kilo, follows a fall campaign in which the agency used a number of different tactics to drive the realities of gun violence home for residents of Toronto. That included crafting a 13-foot-tall bullet, which was added to the “Toronto” sculpture outside of City Hall to look like an exclamation point.

That campaign was endorsed by Mayor John Tory, and resulted in 22,000 signatures on a petition to enact a national ban on handguns and military assault weapons. While the Senate passed Bill C-71 last month to bring about what the organization refers to as more “modest” improvements to gun control – such as tighter restrictions on who can buy firearms and a requirement for gun sellers to keep records of sales for 20 years – the Coalition continues to push for a full ban, something it says is supported by the majority of Canadians in recent surveys.

Part of the issue with turning that support into action is that many Canadians have an “it couldn’t happen here” mentality when it comes to gun control, viewing it as an American problem. That’s why the Coalition’s recent campaigns have been centred around creating a deeper connection with Torontonians and gun violence in the city, which hit a record high last year.

“Our problem is not just the well-resourced and aggressive gun lobby,” says Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control. “Our problem is that while the majority of Canadians support stronger gun control, they do not do anything about it. I have heard far too many people tell me that they never thought about gun control until someone they loved was caught in the crossfire.”

In order to turn the campaign into a wider grassroots movement, the website and the technology behind it are being made available to other cities, both in Canada and globally.