Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Joel Lightbound, left, and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair listen at a press conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Family members and colleagues of those who died in tragic sprees at Montreal's Dawson College and Concordia University say that the Liberal government's firearms legislation is "an offensively hollow bill" that should be completely revamped. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Rewrite ‘hollow’ federal gun bill, victims’ families urge Liberals

Rewrite ‘hollow’ federal gun bill, victims’ families urge Liberals

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s firearms legislation is “an offensively hollow bill” that should be completely revamped, say family members and colleagues of those who died in tragic shooting sprees at Montreal’s Dawson College and Concordia University.

In a letter sent to Liberal MPs, they add their voices to a chorus of opponents who say federal Bill C-21 will not rid Canada of the scourge of deadly shootings.

“We will not mince our words. Bill C-21 is an insult to all victims of gun violence,” the letter says.

“It looks like it was designed by public relations consultants, rather than by public safety experts. It looks like its sole purpose is to provide tough-sounding sound bites that belie the total lack of substance behind the ‘measures’ they purportedly describe.”

The bill tabled in February proposes a buyback of many recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapons, but owners would be allowed to keep them under strict conditions, including registration and secure storage of the guns.

The letter says this would allow “tens of thousands of fully functional killing machines to remain in private hands.”

The legislation would also enable municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation — a plan the letter says will be ineffective.

“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.”

The families, survivors and witnesses who signed the letter say the legislation also falls short on efforts to remove guns from the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, deter smuggling and trafficking of firearms, and crack down on the modification of magazines to hold as many as 100 bullets.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, defended the bill, saying it would build on existing measures to keep Canadians safe.

“We listen to the victims, families and communities impacted by gun violence as we seek to end it in Canada,” she said. “We would like to thank advocates, families and friends for their dedication and their commitment to a future free from gun violence.”

In 1992, four Concordia professors were gunned down by a colleague and a secretary was injured.

Fifteen years ago this September at Dawson College, a gunman killed 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa and wounded 19 others.

“Four families at Concordia and one at Dawson were torn apart. Many survivors are still struggling with their physical and psychological injuries,” says the letter to Liberal MPs.

“We are inspired by other victims who also publicly expressed their anger at Bill C-21 and we support their call for its complete overhaul.”

Several relatives of women killed in the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, as well as victims and families left reeling by a 2018 shooting in Toronto, have also panned the federal gun legislation.

The federal Conservatives and some firearms rights advocates have criticized the bill over concerns it targets responsible gun owners, not criminals.

The letter from the Dawson College and Concordia families accuses the Liberals of betraying promises to prevent firearm-related violence, saying it is “one thing to oppose gun control and to legislate accordingly. It is quite another to get elected on the promise to strengthen gun control and then capitulate to the gun lobby with an offensively hollow bill.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

guns

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

Red Deer Rebels’ three graduating players, Josh Tarzwell (left), Chris Douglas (middle) and Ethan Anders (right) will all move on to new opportunities next season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
‘It was a rollercoaster’: Rebels’ graduating players look back on wild season

The nerves. Even three-and-a-half-years later, Josh Tarzwell still remembers the nervousness he… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Bedard, Wright lead Canadians into gold-medal game at U18 championship

Canada players are seen prior to the match against Costa Rica as part of the 2021 CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala in this Wednesday, May 5, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CONCACAF, Straffon Images, Norvin Mendoza *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Canada loses to Costa Rica but advances at CONCACAF Futsal Championship

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver addresses the audience at the Yukon Government swearing in ceremony, in the Yukon Government Legislature foyer, in Whitehorse, Monday, May 3, 2021. The Yukon government says travelers who can prove they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate when they enter the territory beginning May 25. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Yukon to lift requirement of 14-day self-isolation for arriving travellers on May 25

Most Read