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Quebec City mosque co-founder decries lack of federal progress on handgun control

The co-founder of the Quebec City mosque where six people were killed and many others injured four years ago this week laments the lack of federal progress on handgun control in a new letter to the prime minister.

In the letter, Boufeldja Benabdallah of the city’s Islamic Cultural Centre tells Justin Trudeau the same type of gun and magazine used in the fatal mosque shooting are still on the market.

The shooter began his January 2017 rampage with a rifle and two illegal 30-cartridge magazines, and when the rifle jammed on the first shot, he turned to a handgun and five 10-bullet magazines.

According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms – predominantly handguns – registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 in 2019 from 983,792 in 2018.

The Trudeau government says it plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns.

The group PolySeSouvient has advised the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows.

The Liberal government outlawed a range of what it calls assault-style firearms by cabinet order in May, saying they were not designed for hunting or sport shooting – a move Benabdallah applauds in the letter, co-addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

But he says the government could also have, at minimum by now, instituted a moratorium on the importing and domestic manufacture of handguns.

Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, are pressing for a ban on the private ownership of handguns.

In their own letter to the prime minister and Blair this week on behalf of Danforth Families for Safe Communities, Smith and Price call the four years since the Quebec mosque shooting one of a growing list of anniversaries that Canadians would rather not have to acknowledge.

“But acknowledge them we must, out of respect and concern for our future.”

The letter says two major issues have been exposed by the shooting in Quebec City “as well as our own experience and where nothing significant has yet changed”: the continued legal availability of handguns for recreational purposes and magazines that hold, or can be converted to hold, more than five bullets.

“Please do not wait for a third election to make assurances to Canadians and give them more promises on this file, while they face ... an ever-growing number of anniversaries of extreme gun violence and all the personal grief that results from it,” the letter says.

“These tragedies have been enabled by successive federal governments doing neither as much as they could, nor as well as they could.”






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