The Danforth Families for Safe Communities (DFSC), a group of families that were victims of the mass shooting in Toronto on July 22, 2018, stand in remembrance of all of the victims of the Montreal Massacre; and in particular, the fourteen women who lost their lives to targeted hatred toward women, on that terrible day. As fellow survivors, and as those who witnessed our own tragedy firsthand, we stand with those who choose to honour the lives taken by fighting for changes to make this kind of violence less likely for others. Hate may try to find a way, but we do not need to help it by supplying it with weapons that have no place in legitimate uses. The rifle used that day, the Ruger Mini 14, remains as a symbol of the kind of weapon that is still available for sale in Canada, but should now be banned as a result of the Federal announcement.
We are encouraged that gun control, an issue raised by the Liberals and supported by other parties, was in the Throne speech of the 43rd Parliament. The DFSC supports the measures that are proposed to remove unnecessary powerful semi-automatic rifles through a ban and a buyback program.
We urge the Government to strengthen its commitment on the handgun proposal. Handguns have no place in hunting or other practical use. We need to change the ownership model so that private citizens are not able to buy and divert guns to unlawful uses.
We ask the Federal Government to listen to the Mayors of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and others, and step up to, not away from, the call to ban the private ownership of handguns, nationally. Placing the onus on every municipality to regulate handgun policy will be a burden to each city, and will leave us with a patchwork of laws.
In the case of the tragedy we experienced, a handgun from a different province found its way into the hands of a person residing in Toronto. A local ban would not have prevented this crime.
We also ask that the Federal Government ensure that the investments it referred to “to help cities fight gang-related violence” is implemented beyond a law and order response. Root causes of gun violence, and other acts of hate, stem from a lack of community investments, youth programs and facilities for some. Direct most of that “help” to these issues, and boost prevention instead of reaction, as the road to safer communities.
Canada’s current gun laws have delivered gun violence rates that are higher than other, similar OECD nations who have taken steps to severely restrict or ban assault weapons and handguns. To honour the lives lost, as well as lives changed forever, let’s move forward with similar measures on a Federal level.