How is gun smuggling policed?

May 23rd, 2014

Connaught New Researcher recipient Jennifer Carlson exploring a major crime problem

Paul Fraumeni

The tunnel and bridge that connect Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan comprise the busiest border crossing in North America. Millions of people travel between the US and Canada through this corridor for a multitude of reasons. In fact, the crossing is an important boon to jobs and the economies of both countries.

Also travelling through the Detroit-Windsor crossing are illegal guns. In fact, this corridor is the main conduit for illegal guns used in Ontario.

Jennifer Carlson

Jennifer Carlson

This phenomenon fascinates Jennifer Carlson, a sociologist at U of T Mississauga. Carlson is one of 53 U of T researchers at the assistant professor level who have just been awarded funding through the Connaught New Researcher Awards program.

“The goal of the Connaught New Researchers program is to help new professors establish strong research programs, which, in turn, make them more competitive for external funding,” said Professor Paul Young, vice president (research and innovation).

The New Researcher awards are part of a suite of programs administered by the Connaught Fund. The awards are rooted in the Connaught philosophy of investing internally in U of T research. The Connaught Fund was created from the 1972 sale of Connaught Laboratories, which first mass-produced insulin, the Nobel award-winning discovery of U of T researchers Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and James Collip. Connaught invests close to $4 million annual in emerging and established scholars.

Carlson will use her Connaught New Researcher funding to examine how American and Canadian authorities police guns and the flow of guns across borders and how different social, cultural, legal and political contexts shape and affect the policing of guns and gun-related crimes.

“My primary goal with this research is to explore how law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border currently deal with gun smuggling,” says Carlson. “So, I will look at this from a sociological perspective, but I also hope to come out of this study with recommendations on best practices for police, too.”

She notes that part of the challenge of gun smuggling from the US to Canada has to do with the very different view, laws and practices surrounding guns. She points, for example, to a phenomenon she calls “the accidental gun smuggler” – Americans who can legally carry guns for personal protection who arrive at the Canadian border, forgetting they are holding their guns and are then detained by authorities when their cars are searched.

Carlson joined U of T in 2013, after completing her PhD at the University of California Berkeley. Her research has focussed on gender and criminology, often with a focus on guns.

“I’m thrilled to be receiving the Connaught New Researcher funding. It is going to allow me to get the project off the ground. I’m able now to spend this summer building up my network and starting on my interviews. This is a wonderful start to my second year as a U of T professor.”

This year, the New Researcher program awarded more than $920,000 to 53 faculty members. In addition to Carlson, they are:

Aisha Ahmad, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Elite Targeting and Network Fragmentation in Islamic Insurgencies”

Kelly Arbour, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, “Igniting Fitness Possibilities: A pilot study to develop and test the feasibility of a community-based inclusive physical activity program for youth”

Laura Bisaillon, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Disease, Disability and Decision-making”

Elizabeth Adams Blake, Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Early Modern Literary Physics”

Francesco Bova, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, “Manager-Employee Relationships and Corporate Myopia”

Jonathan S. Cant, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “A New Model of Object and Scene Representation in Human Visual Cognition”

Erika Nicole Carlson, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Mindfulness as a Path to Self-Knowledge”

Nicole Cohen, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “New Forms of News: Making and Remaking Journalism in a Digital Age”

Kevin Coleman, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Visualizing the Americas: Photography, the United Fruit Company, and Seeing from Latin America and the Caribbean”

Jonathan Craft, Department of Political Science, “Policy Elites at Work: A Comparative Analysis of the Policy Work of Canadian and U.K. Elite Policy Recruits”

Denise Cruz, Department of English, “Runways: Filipino Couture and the New Silk Road”

Sebastien Drouin, Centre for French & Linguistics, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Circulation of Knowledge and French Culture at the Court of Gotha”

Theresa Enright, Department of Political Science, “Comparative Metromobilities: Mass Transportation and the Global City”

Joshua Gang, Department of English, “Forms of Mind: Behaviorism and Literary Modernity, 1913-present”

Kara Susan Gaston, Department of English, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Angelus Novus: Translation and Transformation in Chaucer’s Early Poetry”

Daniel Green, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, “Using Galaxies for Fundamental Physics”

Sara Grimes, Faculty of Information, “Children Making Games: The experience, opportunities and challenges elementary-aged children face in using child-specific “do-it-yourself” game design tools”

Yi Gu, Department of Arts, Culture & Media, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “The Art of Our Brothers: Socialist Exchange and Visual Culture in the Early PRC”

Vsevolod Gunitskiy, Department of Political Science, “Legacies of Blood and Legacies of Law: The Effects of State Birth on Political Development.”

Paula P. Hastings, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Reorienting the Map around the Pacific: The Panama Canal and Shifting Spatial Imaginaries in Twentieth-Century Canada”

Farzaneh Hemmasi, Faculty of Music, “Pop in Exile: Culture and Revolution in Transnational Iranian Popular Music”

Sarah Marleen Hillewaert, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Youth, global Islam and cyberspace: Exploring how social media are caught up in the radicalization of young Muslims along the Kenyan coast.”

Franz Huber, Department of Philosophy, “Belief and Counterfactuals”

Ayesha Irani, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “The Making of Bengali Islam: Translation and Conversion on an Islamic Frontier”

Kathleen Patricia Kilroy-Marac, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Out of Order: The Emergence of Hoarding as Mental Illness and Public Health Hazard”

Nicole Klenk, Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Multi-level transboundary governance of biodiversity conservation in a changing climate”

Martin Krkosek, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, “Evolutionary dynamics of disease in domesticated seas: Towards sustainability in fisheries and aquaculture”

Marc Laflamme, Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “The Ediacaran Extinction and the Dawn of Animal Life”

Jooyoung Lee, Department of Sociology, “Getting Shot in Canada: Health Care Access and Illness Prevention?”

Antonio Liscidini, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, “Ultra low power RF front-end for Bluetooth Low Energy applications”

Carmen Logie, Faculty of Social Work, “Exploring critical ethnography as an innovative approach to understand stigma and social resistance among sexual and gender minorities in the Northwest Territories”

Sam James Maglio III, Department of Management, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “The Psychological and Behavioural Consequences of Revised Risk Estimates”

Krista Maxwell, Department of Anthropology, “The Ontario Child Welfare System and the Persistence of Anishinaabe Relatedness”

Philip Joseph Monahan, Centre for French & Linguistics, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Determining the neural time course of access to phonological structure using electrophysiology”

Kanta Murali, Department of Political Science, “The Social Origins of Growth-Oriented Policies: Economic Liberalization, Identity Politics and Investment Policy in India”

A. Julia ( Abigail ) Nefsky, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Reasons and Responsibility in Contexts of Collective Harm”

Adrian R. Nestor, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Image reconstruction of human faces from patterns of neural activation”

Angela Pyle, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, “Exploring the play-literacy interface in full day kindergarten classrooms”

Hanno Rein, Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Scarborough, “Towards a deterministic model of planet formation”

Douglas Sanderson, Faculty of Law, “The Inequity of Equity in Canadian Aboriginal Law”

Luca Scardovi, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, “Analysis and closed loop control of neuronal synchronization: a systems theoretic approach”

David Seim, Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Behavioural Effects of Wealth Shocks and the Effects of Disability Insurance”

Andrew Sepielli, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “The Roots of Moral Skepticism”

Joseph Steinberg, Department of Economics, “Bilateral Capital Flows and Real Exchange Rates”

Adam Steinberg, Institute for Aerospace Studies, “Laser-Based Investigations of Cross-Cup Interactions for Natural Prevention of Combustion Dynamics in Low-Emission Gas Turbine Engines”

Katherine Tamminen, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, “Testing a parent-child coping intervention for adolescent athletes”

Patrick Theriault, Department of French, “Glory, Modernity and Literature: An Analysis of the Motif of Glory in French Literature (1850-1900)”

Erin Tolley, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block: Visible Minorities and Candidate Nomination in Canadian Politics”

Raquel Urtasun, Department of Computer Science, “Efficient Learning and Inference Algorithms for Affordable Autonomous Systems”

Kevin Wilkinson, Department of Classics, “Palladas of Alexandria: Epigrammatic Reflections on the Empire of Diocletian and Constantine”

Ronald Wolthoff, Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Interviews and the Assignment of Workers to Jobs”

Daniel Wright, Department of English & Drama, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Bad Logic: Reasoning about Desire in the Victorian Novel”

One of the links from Windsor Canada to Detroit, MIchigan

Photo by Alan Levine/Flickr