ONTD Political

tw violence against women - anniversary of montreal massacare highlights need for gun control

3:35 pm - 12/06/2012


Marc Lépine walked into Montreal’s École Polytechnique 23 years ago Friday afternoon, carrying a garbage bag with a gun inside.

He was hunting women.

He shot the first one, Maryse Laganière, in the hall. He then proceeded to classroom 303, where he demanded the female students be separated from the men.

“I want the women. You’re all a bunch of feminists,” he said. He lined the girls up against the wall and shot them.

“I hate feminists.”

By the time he was done, Lépine had murdered 14 women. He then turned his gun on himself.

That gun, a Sturm Ruger Mini-14, was a semi-automatic hunting rifle. Lépine bought it at a sports store in downtown Montreal two weeks before. He told the store clerk he was going after “just small game.”

It was easy for Lépine to buy that gun. He needed only to show he had no record of violent crime or mental health problems and hand over $10. That got him a firearms acquisition certificate. The gun and ammunition cost him $765. If he’d had more money, he could have bought a bouquet of guns and no one would have known.

“When I found out they were selling military weapons to civilians, I was completely shocked,” says Wendy Cukier. “There were six million rifles and shotguns in Canada and no one knew who had them. It was completely irrational. You have no control if you have no information.”

Cukier is the vice-president of research and innovation at Ryerson University’s school of management. She is also the president of the country’s gun control lobby. She launched the Coalition for Gun Control in the weeks following the Montreal Massacre.

Because of Cukier and her coalition, it’s slightly harder to get a rifle or shotgun in Canada 23 years later.

You need to take a training course, for one. You need to renew your licence every five years and produce it to buy ammunition. When you apply for a licence, your spouse is alerted.

Because of Cukier, every legal long gun in Canada was registered. That meant that unlike in Lépine’s era, police knew who owned 7.1 million rifles and shotguns.

Until last month. That’s when Public Safety Minster Vic Toews’ spokesperson announced gleefully that those records, except the ones from Quebec, had been destroyed.

The government, she said, was proud.

What’s worse, this year the Conservative government cut any screening that happened at the gun sales counter. Sales clerks no longer have to verify a gun licence before selling a rifle or shotgun. And the government has forbidden them from recording the names of purchasers, a law that had been in place for 35 years. So, the police trail on any rifle or shotgun will now go cold at the hunting shop.

Gun owners will no longer be hounded by bureaucracy. They can freely hunt their small game.

The gun lobby has always argued that the registry would not have saved those 14 young women. It wouldn’t have prevented Lépine from carrying out his deranged plan.

They are right. Police didn’t need to trace that gun back to Lépine. They found it near his body.

But the registry saved the lives of many, many other women. By Cukier’s count, statistically, it has saved more than 600 lives every year in Canada.

“That’s a fairly significant drop,” Cukier told me from her office at Ryerson. “If you achieved a reduction of 50 per cent of people killed in any other circumstance — cancer, car crashes — people would proclaim it a huge success and ask what else we could do.”

Take the Sudbury woman breaking up with her husband in January. Newspaper accounts say he roared away from police, distraught, with a shotgun in his car. When police found him at home, their search turned up three guns. But the registry revealed he had another. Police removed a 12-gauge shotgun two days later. Perhaps he wouldn’t have used any of those guns. But maybe, just maybe, he would have.

Then, there’s Heather Imming, the Ottawa woman whose former husband Bill beat her with a tire iron to within an inch of her life. The reason he didn’t kill her, she says, is police had seized his two guns — an AK-47 and another long gun.

“I firmly believe that if they hadn’t taken the guns, I would not be here,” she told the Star two years ago.

Then there is Arlene May. She was a single mom in Craigleith, Ont., shot in the chest twice by her estranged lover Randy Iles in 1996. He was on bail for a laundry list of heinous charges against her.

One of his conditions was not to have any firearms. But the Oshawa gun dealer didn’t verify his permit, so no flags went off, and that was that. May became small game.

As Cukier says, more regulation means more safety. I hate bureaucracy as much as any other person, except when it could save my life.

Every Dec. 6 since Lépine walked into the Polytechnique is a sorrowful day. But this year’s unstitching of its legacy makes it doubly tragic.

“I just hope we don’t have to witness another tragedy for Canadians to know what is at stake,” Cukier says.

Cukier will go to a memorial today, as she does every year. She says she will keep on fighting against the Conservative plan to dismantle what’s left of gun control in this country.

We should all help her.

article source
image source
wiki page on the massacre
a_phoenixdragon 7th-Dec-2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Damn. That's just...crazy. Gun registery is what keeps us all able to have guns and yet be safe from them as well. This is insane.
romp 7th-Dec-2012 03:04 am (UTC)
I do like that Canada remembers that event each year. And not just with a single gesture but gatherings in small towns (okay, where I live in Leftyland) and my FB was pull of posts about it including one woman who was fundraising for the local women's shelter.
redstar826 7th-Dec-2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
That's good to know. I'm not Canadian, but I see a post on this somewhere almost every year, I think. It's good that this is being remembered.
jenny_jenkins 7th-Dec-2012 08:19 am (UTC)
I happened to be living outside Canada when this happened. We called home to Edmonton for some reason, and my grandmother told us what happened. Dad turned on our short-wave radio to get the CBC.

I remember everything about that moment. It was my ninth birthday. We had eaten a cake in the shape of a '9'. I remember my presents, and the friends who came over.

And I was so scared, because I couldn't understand why he would only shoot the girls and women.

This is such a sad day every year, and I never forget.
lamardeuse 7th-Dec-2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of misinformation in this article. First of all, the long gun registry was a costly disaster - there are all kinds of rifles and shotguns that cannot be registered because they don't have serial numbers, the serial numbers don't match, there are variants that don't show up in the database, etc. There were lots of cases of people being told they owned firearms they'd never owned, or no longer owned, or have never existed. It was inaccurate, and that kind of inaccuracy leads to danger - for police, for the public, for everyone. The registry of handguns and other restricted and prohibited weapons has been in existence for decades and is still being maintained, as is the system of licensing owners and evaluating their fitness to own guns rather than keeping track of every single gun they own. That hasn't changed.

But the registry saved the lives of many, many other women. By Cukier’s count, statistically, it has saved more than 600 lives every year in Canada.

I'd love to know where she's getting this count, because only 67 women were killed by their partners or ex-partners in 2009, so that would represent a huge drop in the domestic violence statistics.

What’s worse, this year the Conservative government cut any screening that happened at the gun sales counter. Sales clerks no longer have to verify a gun licence before selling a rifle or shotgun. And the government has forbidden them from recording the names of purchasers, a law that had been in place for 35 years. So, the police trail on any rifle or shotgun will now go cold at the hunting shop.

AFAIK, you still have to present a PAL (Possession and Acquisition License) when you buy a gun. But the information in this article about changes to prohibited weapons regs, is a lot more troubling. Mainly, the whole thing pisses me off - I feel like they wasted billions on a program that didn't work, when they could have spent that money on attacking the problem of domestic violence and violence against women head on with all kinds of more effective programs, or tightened the laws so that people who committed crimes with guns or threatened violence were dealt with more effectively. It was a lot of political posturing that made it look like there was an easy solution to this, when there isn't.
This page was loaded Oct 23rd 2014, 3:21 pm GMT.