|Gungroups provide insight|
by Jeanette Stewart
CUP Central Bureau Chief
Education key to preventing shooting tragedies, experts say
REGINA (CUP)--In the wake of a deadly shooting at a Quebec college, opinions on gun control have become polarized, with advocates calling for changes to Canadian gun control policy.
And while they may hold differ- ent opinions on what could have pre- vented Kimveer Gill, 25, from firing at students at Montreal's Dawson College on Sept. 13, leaving one stu- dent dead and 11 others injured, peo- ple on both sides of the debate cited training as a key component.
Dave Tomlinson, president of the National Firearms Association (NFA), said prevention is "a matter of education and a matter of who is doing the education."
Tomlinson said proper training and "immediate introduction" into the firearms community is necessary for young people with an interest in guns.
Wendy Cukier, chair of the Coalition for Gun Control, has a dif- ferent idea of what kind of education is necessary.
"The NFA talks about training kids," said Cukier. "This guy [Gill] didn't need any more training."
She believes training focused on "professionals in the community," who can identify dangerous behav- iour early on, is what is needed. Cukier noted that Gill was part of a rifle club, whose "members said that they had concerns."
Gill was a licensed firearm user, with legally registered weapons. According to Bill C-68 of the Criminal Code, if public safety con- cerns are expressed, a review of the license or a revocation of the weapons can occur.
Cukier says the information needs to be relayed to authorities.
"Work needs to be done to increase community ownership for community safety," she said. In a "number of really awful shootings," people say they knew the shooter was dangerous.
Currently neither the NFA nor the Coalition for Gun Control sup- ports the legislation introduced on Jun. 16 by the Conservatives to amend the registry so that owners of non-restricted rifles and shotguns will not have to register their weapons.
"Why would we be in favour of the changes if the changes are being drafted by idiots?" said Tomlinson. His group favours allowing firearms users to be able to make the legisla- tion.
The Coalition for Gun Control is protesting the changes, saying the current system is working. They say that "prevention is hard to measure," but their statistics show that 500 fewer people per year are killed by gun violence since 1989, the year the group was founded.
The Canada Firearms Centre reports that 17,861 firearms licenses were revoked from December 1998 to June 30, 2006, for reasons includ- ing a "history of violence, mental ill- ness, the applicant is a potential risk to himself, herself or others, unsafe firearm use and storage, drug offences [or] providing false infor- mation."
To Cukier, statistics like this are a measure of proof. "All the major health and safety organizations sup- port it," said Cukier, adding she believes the majority of Canadian citizens do as well.
She is backed by a 2003 Environics poll that found 74 per cent of Canadians supported gun control legislation.
"The anti-gun majority is silent," said Cukier. "If every student in this country called their MP next week, my job would be done."