HALIFAX -- The physician leading Nova Scotia's trauma team believes the community has to better understand what's causing gun violence in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"What we're seeing now, we have to get to the root cause," said Dr. Rob Green, Medical Director of Trauma Nova Scotia. "I don't pretend to know what it is, but I know we're not going to change what's going on by just treating the bullet-wound victims."

Green said with every shooting that occurs there's also often other patients who arrive at hospitals with other trauma injuries, such as stabbings.

"It's almost predictable," Green said. "We're certainly seeing more and more gunshot wounds, and more and more of the gunshot wounds are a result of assaults."

Halifax Regional Police have responded to 18 shootings in 2021 – including three homicides. That's nearly as many as HRP dealt with during all of 2020, which was 21, and more previous recent years. 

Halifax Police said their shooting statistics count everything from homicides to incidents where police are unable to locate an injured person but can confirm a shooting did occur. 

Const. John Macleod with Halifax Regional Police called the recent violence concerning, but didn't call the numbers a trend.

"Statistics and crimes vary from year to year, month to month. There's generally no one specific factor that guides those," he said.

Two of the three homicides to occur in the HRM this year were the result of daylight shootings in very public places – all victims were men in their 20s.

"That's very disturbing," said Jim Hoskins, a retired police officer who worked in Halifax for more than 30 years.

While Hoskins doesn't know what kind of guns are being used in the recent shootings, he said in his experience that handguns were a major problem. He believes HRM should ban handguns if Ottawa passes legislation to grant municipalities that power.

"The less guns on the street, the less guns that are available, the less killing you'll have. It may sound simple but that's about what it is," Hoskins said.