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December 6, 2021, marks the 32nd anniversary of the Polytechnique femicide. Fourteen young women were killed by a licensed gun owner, who used a type of gun that policymakers should have prohibited before it was used that evening, and they certainly should have acted since.
Unfortunately, the unspeakable violence that is a mass shooting, has been repeated too often since then, elsewhere in Canada. On July 22, 2018, a young girl and a teenage woman were murdered, thirteen others were shot, and countless others were terrorized in a hate-filled act of violence on Danforth Avenue in Toronto, ON. The Toronto Police report indicates that about 10 minutes elapsed from the time that the first shots were fired, until the murderer took his own life, using a stolen Smith & Wesson MP40 handgun. Such needless loss of life and injury that was partly due to a lack of reforms to gun control policy, dating back to that night in 1989.
Survivors, witnesses, and family members of the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique shooting, under the banner PolySeSouvient (PolyRemembers), continue to fight for stricter gun control and, especially, for a ban on assault weapons. Removing assault-style weapons from private hands is a goal that is shared by the DFSC, and it is part of the mandate given to the recently elected federal government. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to implement a mandatory buyback program, or the permanent disabling if retained, of the assault-style weapons identified in a May 2020 Order in Council. If they follow through, there is the reason for optimism. And follow through they should. During the recently concluded election campaign, significant attention was given to the issue of assault weapons and the threat they pose while in private hands. We saw that concern play out in the discourse among candidates, and in the media, during the election.
Things are less hopeful when it comes to handguns, which was the type of firearm used on the Danforth and in most homicides in Canada. It seems that federal and provincial levels of government keep passing the file to each other where handgun policy is concerned. Clearly, we still need action on handguns, to compliment what is happening on assault-style firearms, in the interest of public safety.
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