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Submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security March 10, 2023

SECU’s study of “Bill C21: An Act to Amend Certain Acts and to make Certain Consequential Amendments (firearms)” Supplementary sessions for the consideration of Amendments G4 and G46 (withdrawn)

March 10, 2023

Noor Samiei

Mr. Chair, and Members of the Committee.

On July 22, 2018, what started off as a night of excitement, celebrating my eighteenth birthday, ended in sheer horror and misery. It’s been almost five years since the Danforth Shooting and I still struggle to find the words to speak about what my friends and I experienced that night.

We were robbed of our innocence that day. We lost our sense of safety, security, trust and faith in society. But the most painful part of all was losing our best friend, Reese Fallon. We didn't only lose Reese that day, but we lost all the precious moments and milestones of life she looked forward to the most. Reese will never be able to get married, have kids or live out her dreams of being a nurse. Everything was taken from her in a matter of minutes. And all we were doing was eating ice cream out on a summer night.

Another precious life lost that evening was ten-year-old Julianna Kozis. While I did not know her personally, her family shares stories of her pure, kind and loving heart. Julianna’s legacy is kept alive through the kindness she embodied in life.

While this was an uncontrollable event, the only control we do have is fighting for change. Today I sit alongside Ken Price, Claire Smith, Samantha Price and Ali Demircan, all members of Danforth Families for Safe Communities.

No one ever deserves to experience what we had gone through that night. This is why legislation is vital and crucial. I don't want any more thoughts and prayers. I want action and policy. We hold a responsibility to ensure that no one experiences the same pain and sorrow that we do.

Unfortunately, we learned the grave effects of a mass shooting. The Danforth Shooting has left an everlasting impact on Reese and Julianna’s friends, family and community as a whole. To those that have tried to minimize this grief to defend their position, just know that gun violence is felt widely, deeply and profoundly and does not simply go away.

Ken Price

Our presence here today is a reminder of what happens when guns are used for violent ends. Knowing what we have experienced, we are here to urge you to put safety at the center of your decision making.

There is evidence of a proliferation of powerful, rapid fire, quick loading weapons - and these have been used for violence among the citizens that this government must help to protect.

We recognize other stakeholders in this debate. Hunting, warding off pests on farms, and most sport shooting - these are all legitimate activities.But “Reasonably used” is the key phrase in the law guiding the availability and classification of firearms for private owners. Recognizing the lethal power of all guns, that should mean asking why a particular gun is needed to accommodate an activity, not just letting industry and enthusiasm push new weapons into the mix. Permit firearms cautiously, because any gun can be a weapon and the more powerful, the more lethal.

The government has taken steps in the past in the law to protect the public from categories of weapons. risk outweighed the utility. We must now recognize and mitigate the unacceptable risks we face in current times – enabled by modern handguns and assault style rifles.

We support Bill C21. It is wide-reaching and not just about gun bans because addressing gun violence needs a muti-faceted approach . But Bill C21 does modernize gun control to reflect that in the last 25 years or so, since C-68, we added a bunch of assault style rifles into the hands and allowed about a million hnadguns into the possession of private owners - and even with higher levels of training and scrutiny for those we restricted - and sometimes because we didn’t restrict them - the availability of these guns has contributed to poorer public safety outcomes.

We have followed the debate on Bill C21. We think the legislation could be improved in some areas and we have made some prior comments on that. But as G4 and G46 have been debated, we support the idea of a legally enshrined definition of what an assault style rifle is. A lawful ceiling that would be clearer for stakeholders. Relying solely on governor in council has led to obvious inconsistency and has permitted a proliferation of guns used in some of the most notorious shootings in Canada.

What the latest StatsCan report on gun violence in 2021 said to us is that while we dither, more preventable deaths have occurred. The problem is still significant. It is national. And it is more profound than in countries worth benchmarking. Let’s get G4, G46 and other amendments into the Bill and let’s get Bill C21 passed.

Mr. Chair. Time is of the essence. Thank you for your attention to this complex and important issue. And thank you for including us again today.


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