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University of Toronto summer course turns focus on gun violence

Sociology professor says education and research could help steer the gun violence conversation in right direction.

UofT sociology professor Jooyoung Lee is teaching a course on gun violence this summer, with a focus on mass shooting and gun control policies.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

UofT sociology professor Jooyoung Lee is teaching a course on gun violence this summer, with a focus on mass shooting and gun control policies.

Jooyoung Lee is worried about the U.S. administration’s attitude on gun control.

“Donald Trump believes that gun-free zones are a problem,” said the sociology professor, referencing his “frustrating and dangerous” plan to protect the public by arming teachers and other community members.

He hopes an academic approach could help steer the gun violence conversation in the right direction.

Starting this summer, Lee will teach a course at the University of Toronto on the impact of gun culture on communities and how to shape public policies to protect vulnerable populations, both in the U.S. and in Canada.

The course will be based on three case studies. Students will analyze the decades-long gang war in south Los Angeles, looking at historic factors such as the marginalization of youth in African-American communities. They’ll also examine the increasing number of mass shootings, especially in schools, as well as serial homicides and how unresolved high-profile cases reshape communities.

“Mass shootings continue to happen, and I think we need more research and education about it,” said Lee.

He’s especially concerned about distracting narratives that take the discussion away from gun control. In the wake of the Orlando shootings at Pulse nightclub, for example, some Republicans reacted by calling for stricter immigration policies, he said.

“The shooter at that club purchased his firearms legally. That’s what’s worrying, but people want to ignore that,” he said.

“Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death among young people, so I think it’s important for students to understand the impact of making it easy to access firearms.”

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