Members of parliament Liberal Party of Canada House of Commons Ottawa,
Ontario K1A 0A6
Next September 13th, fifteen years will have passed since a young man from Laval carried out a premeditated mass shooting at Montreal's Dawson College with a semi-automatic assault weapon and a handgun. Over a period of mere minutes, he shot twenty victims, one of whom was Anastasia De Sousa. Anastasia was shot twelve times at close range. She died of her injuries. She was 18. Had police not happened to have been close by, the carnage would have been much worse.
The co-signers of this letter include Anastasia’s family, students who survived their gunshot wounds as well as our parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles – all of whose lives are forever impacted by this terrible event. Also include are family and colleagues of professors Phoivos Ziogas, Matthew Douglass, Michael Hogben and Aaron Jaan Saber who were shot and killed in 1992 at Concordia University.
Many of us therefore applauded when the Liberal government issued the May 1, 2020 Orders in Council that finally prohibited (most) assault weapons, including the Beretta CX4 Storm. But by rescinding your promise to remove these weapons from circulation, what should have been a victory for public safety has now been severely undermined, both in terms of protecting the public and by leaving these prohibitions open to being overturned by a future government.
The absence of any concrete proposals to stem the proliferation of handguns cements this
government’s attempt to strengthen gun control as a resounding failure.
“Combat intimate partner and gender-based violence” by doing nothing about the flaws in the current system (like when “red flags” are ignored) and allowing authorities to offload their responsibility to protect potential victims who could henceforth be directed to go to court and argue their own case to convince a judge to remove the guns in their abuser’s possession.
1 Bill C-71 adopted two years ago in May of 2019 compels a firearms officer to consider the applicant’s lifetime history, not just the preceding five years, as well as a wider array of risk factors. However, the wide discretion conferred to firearms officers that allows the granting of licenses despite these risks remains unchanged. Bill C-71 has not yet been implemented.
“Help create safer communities” by doing nothing to stem the proliferation of handguns, and by offloading the responsibility to municipalities despite the lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of local “bans” and the quasi-universal rejection of the idea by municipalities across the country.
“Protect Canadians from gun violence” in relation to legal magazines that can be converted to illegally hold 30, 50 even 100 bullets, by making modified magazines “more illegal” – as if that will deter potential mass shooters.
“Complete the prohibition of assault-style firearms” by rescinding the promise to remove them from circulation, allowing tens of thousands of fully functional killing machines to remain in private hands.
We were ordinary people doing ordinary things – going to work, going to school, just living our lives. Just like all of you. And because our political leadership failed to act because promises were broken, our lives are no longer ordinary, they are forever changed. And now have to ask ourselves: does our government not even care to prevent similar massacres?
We are asking you to show some courage and integrity and to reconsider Bill C-21 in its entirety. Keep your 2005 promise to ban handguns. Keep your 2015 promise to get handguns out of our streets and our communities. Keep your 2019 promise to get rid of assault weapons once and for all. Bring in real improvements for victims of domestic violence with regards to “red flags”. Ensure that the precautionary principle is applied when granting and revoking firearm licenses. Prioritize public safety, not the interests of the gun lobby.
Until that time, you will be the party that let the gun lobby win.
Louise De Sousa, mother of Anastasia De Sousa
Nelson De Sousa, father of Anastasia Nicholas DeSousa, bother of Anastasia Sarah De Sousa, sister of Anastasia, Dawson graduate – 2010
James Santos, a graduate of Dawson, hostage, survivor
Vanessa Pizzichemi, fiancée of James Anna Medeiros, mother of James Katarina Santos, sister of James
Meaghan Hennegan, Dawson student – 2006, Survivor
Kathlene Dixon, witness to the Dawson shooting, mother of Meaghan Hennegan Kenneth Dow, father of Meaghan
Kailey Hennegan, sister of Meaghan
Hayder Kadhim, Dawson graduate – 2008, Survivor
Sadik Kadhim, father of Hayder Hana Joudi, mother of Hayder Hawra Kadhim, sister of Hayder Hassan Kadhim, brother of Hayder Wasan Dorias, wife of Hayder
Robyn Flynn, Dawson graduate – 2007, witness
Sara Saber-Freedman, wife of Concordia University professor Aaron Jaan Saber in 1992
Dr. Patrick Kenniff, Rector & Vice-Chancellor, Concordia University – 1984-1994
Hugh Brodie, Assistant-Rector, Concordia University 1989-1994, Manager of the Parliamentary Petition to ban Handguns
Extended family and friends: Anastasia De Sousa:
Michael Panzera, partner of Sarah De Sousa Jacqueline Mancini, partner of Nicolas De Sousa