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Violence in Society: Shooting in British Columbia Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021


The issue of violence in society continues to represent a public health hazard while also making people divisive. Violent acts occur because of a multitude of factors such as socioeconomic status, social class, relationship complications, as well as population diversity associated with culture, politics, and religion. Thus, news of crimes that people commit is published every day, which causes distress for the population. Because of this, it is essential to explore the topic of violence as related to the impact on society, the role of media in reporting the news, as well as implications for policymaking in regards to violence prevention. This paper will aim to discuss the recent CBC News article reporting a targeted shooting of four people in British Columbia, Canada. Relevant concepts and themes linked to the case will be further explored to make conclusions about relevant policy changes and the improvement of societal well-being.

Case Description

On April 15, 2019, two women and two men were shot dead in three areas of Penticton, Canada in what was described as a targeted incident of severe violence against members of community. The police believed that the victims of the crime all knew each other, which represents a personal motive for the perpetrator who turned himself in at the Penticton Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment. In news reports, the names of perpetrators are often being avoided not only for anonymity purposes but also to avoid giving any attention to the criminal and rather focus on the victims.

At approximately 10:30 AM, Penticton police were called to downtown in the area of Westminster Avenue and Haynes Street to a report that a man had been shot. When the officers were getting to the destination, another call was made reporting the shooting for a second person, and an hour after this call, a 60-year-old man who matched the suspect’s description turned himself in a police department. After sweeping the area, the officers found that there were four victims in total, with the fatalities occurring in three different locations within a five-kilometer radius. The incident deeply troubled the people in those areas because of the fear that something similar would occur again. However, upon further investigation, police determined that there would be no ongoing danger to the public because the killings or the four victims were personally connected. A personal motive based on neighbors’ dispute could have been the reason for the shootings. While the specific details remain secret, it is evident that the incident represents a type of violence that is prevalent in modern society. Thus, the broader social context, as well as implications for policy change, will be discussed further.


The first important issue to discuss in relation to the described case is guns and violence as the majority of violent acts committed today involves guns. With the availability of handguns increasing the likelihood of deaths by three times, alarms should be raised as to whether it is reasonable to allow their possession (Spitzer 67). On the one hand, a person’s right to protect oneself against potential danger warrants the possession of firearms. On the other hand, the fact that multiple crimes occur with the involvement of guns makes the context more complex. Moreover, there is a degree of fascination with guns, which is referred to as fetishization, taking place in North America. Thus, despite guns having a rationale for their use, including hunting and target shooting as well as self-protection, cases such as the incident at Penticton show that the debate on firearm possession remains relevant.

Homicide represents a problem that goes beyond the issue of gun violence. In the Penticton case of four shootings, the perpetrator committed murders, which represent legal categories of criminal homicide. It is evident that self-defense was not the issue in the case, which is why the suspect cannot be charged with manslaughter, which is less morally blameworthy. The issue of homicide is complex because of a large number of motives that can even include attraction, as discussed by Cupach and Spitzberg (45). Manslaughter generally applies to instances when a murderous act was not premeditated, most likely unintentional, and such that was made in an attempt to protect oneself or someone else.

Manslaughter is often attributed to second-degree murder. First-degree murder, on the contrary, is categorized as a culpable homicide that was deliberate and planned. In the example of shootings at Penticton, it is the most likely that the perpetrator was planning the murders because people were killed in several different locations, which means that the suspect intentionally was looking for specific people to commit the shootings. However, some homicides are automatically considered first-degree murders, even though they were not planned or intentional (Alvarez and Bachman 110). The differentiation between intentional and unintentional acts of violence is usually left to the legislative process.

The role of media in reporting acts of violence to the population is especially important to discuss due to the potential negative ramifications. For decades, researchers have argued whether the reporting of violence in multiple media outlets contributes to the occurrence of crime in society. In the past decade, the way in which society discovers news has changed dramatically. While radio and television represented the key sources of information, today, the Internet and social media offer the convenience of accessing information instantly, with more details being revealed each hour. Because of this, reports of violent acts and crimes that occur globally get sensationalized quickly before being replaced with other news. The continuous inflow of information makes it easier for people to forget about even the most gruesome terrorist attacks because they are distracted by other information.

Moreover, with the Internet being a free place for information sharing, such problems as live murder streaming become even more relevant on the agenda. For example, the 2017 stream of the murder of a 74-year Robert Godwin was seen by more than 1.5 million Facebook users, and it took the website three hours to take the video down. This means that there is a limit to what the management of social media platforms can do to prevent the posting of violent posting. In addition, with the expansion of information technologies (IT), mainstream media is losing its relevance, especially when criminals such as terrorists and murders have noticed that they can directly go to potential content consumers that are seemingly eager to watch as crime is occurring. Also, it is not only murderers who turn to Facebook to stream their acts of violence. The live streaming of suicide has also become a frequent occurrence. Despite the need to regulate the growing use of media for the sharing of violent acts, the extensive growth of the Internet and its accessibility makes it difficult for legislative actions to take place. Moreover, efforts to manage the sharing of information online are highly likely to be opposed by the public due to freedom of speech considerations.

As violence is although negative but common part of social interactions, it is essential for governments to be more proactive and stricter in how the issue is addressed. For example, building strong connections between local authorities and communities to facilitate better reporting of incidents can be the first step toward more effective identification and management of violent hazards. Police departments must encourage communities to volunteer in anti-crime and neighborhood improvement efforts. Although, it is important to note that the Canadian government has already implemented efforts in gun regulation, such as the passing of Bill C-71 that enhanced background checks, forced retailers to maintain firearm records, as well as made changes in the regime of the authorization to transport (ATT). However, with the opposition from gun rights advocates that are unsure about the effectiveness of the legislation, there is much work remaining to be done.


To summarize, violent acts committed by citizens represent numerous challenges for society. Gun-related crimes are complex in regulation and addressing because of the lack of unity in communities’ approaches toward the possession of firearms. While some strongly feel that guns are necessary for self-defense, others oppose their ownership by the general public due to concerns such as gun-related violence. The case of shootings in Penticton shows that violence can occur for a great variety of reasons, which is why it should never be underestimated.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Alexander, and Ronet Bachman. Violence: The Enduring Problem. SAGE Publications, 2016.

CBC News. CBC. 2019, Web.

Cupach, William, and Brian Spitzberg. The Dark Side of Relationship Pursuit: From Attraction to Obsession and Stalking. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 2004.

Spitzer, Robert. Politics of Gun Control. Routledge, 2016.

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"Violence in Society: Shooting in British Columbia." IvyPanda, 14 Sept. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/violence-in-society-shooting-in-british-columbia/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Violence in Society: Shooting in British Columbia." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/violence-in-society-shooting-in-british-columbia/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Violence in Society: Shooting in British Columbia'. 14 September.

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