To our American ears, this number sounds almost like zero.
I don't want to minimize 50 deaths. Those are fifty people who could still be alive, fifty people whose families mourn them. And the fact that a city wants to reduce gun-related deaths is only a good thing.
But still, to our American ears, that number is miniscule.
The population of Toronto is 2.5 million, with another 2.5 million living in the Greater Toronto Area, for a total of 5 million.
The population of New York City is 8 million. The equivalent number of gun deaths in New York, based on relative population, would be 80. The Mayor who presided over that year could just about set him or herself up for life.
Also - and I'm not sure how this figures in - the population of Canada being so much smaller than that of the US, the percentage of Canadians living in the GTA is much, much higher than the percentage of Americans living in New York.
In comments here, James linked to some crime statistics from the Globe And Mail, via No More Mister Nice Blog. NMMNB notes:
The worst metro area in Canada -- the murder capital, the place decent people fear to go -- has a lower murder rate than the U.S. as a whole. Our murder rate is 5.5. per 100,000 population.James noticed the disproportionate number of murders in Winnipeg, relative to its very small population. Lone Primate noted the very small sample size, and how easily numbers that small become distorted, which is true. But Kyle pointed out that crime in Winnipeg is disproportionate to its population, that the province has high levels of poverty and crime relative to Canada. (See his comment for a Wikipedia entry about this).
4.89? That's nothing. Several metropolitan areas in America (at least as of 2002) had murder rates over 10 per 100,000: Los Angeles-Long Beach; Detroit; Baltimore; Little Rock-North Little Rock; Baton Rouge; Gary, Indiana; Mobile, Alabama; Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia; and Stockton-Lodi, California. The rate in Memphis? Over 15. In, er, New Orleans? 24.4.
Also over 10 per 100,000: Jackson, Mississippi; Savannah, Georgia; Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana; and Fayetteville, North Carolina. Oh, and: Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Alexandria, Louisiana; and (over 15) Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Victoria, Texas. [source links available on that site]
Yesterday Canada's new Governor General visited an inner city school there, talked with students, listened to them, hung out with them. Having worked with inner-city kids, I know what a visit like that means to them - this beautiful, accomplished, dark-skinned woman, once a refugee herself, now in a position of great status, paying attention to them, showing them possibilities. I can tell you, on an individual level, it means a lot. To hear Michaelle Jean, it might mean something on a policy level, too.
That, I don't know. I just really like her, and I dig the idea of the Queen's representative in Canada being a brown woman, a former journalist, a student of literature, and someone who has worked in the movement against violence against women. I loved that she started her Canadian tour in Manitoba, the geographic center of Canada, and was so up-close and personal with the people there.
Getting back to crime, I didn't have any big conclusion to draw - just that there is very little here, relative to the United States.