New gun control legislation a big, evidence-based step towards reducing gun injury and death in Canada
Toronto, May 30, 2022 – Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) is welcoming the announcement of new firearm legislation by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino today as another important step in protecting public health and well-being. Entrenchment of the assault weapons ban, action on high-capacity magazines, and ending the purchase, transfer, and sale of new handguns across the country all reflect the advice from the health care community that these weapons are an unnecessary risk to our communities.
“Reducing access to handguns and banning assault weapons are evidence-based measures that will save lives,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-Chair of CDPG and Professor of Surgery, Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. "I was the on-call surgeon the night of the Danforth shooting in 2018, an act committed in Toronto with a handgun originating in Saskatchewan. I will never forget that night. My colleagues and I have seen too many lives cut short or forever changed by the bullet from a gun and it is why we created Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns in 2019.”
Shortly after CDPG was formed, physicians and other health workers rallied in cities across the country to call for a national ban on handguns and assault weapons. More than 15 health care associations including the Canadian Medical Association have since echoed this call. Today’s announcement is a win for public health advocacy.
“Gun injury is a public health issue,” said Dr. Kirstin Weerdenburg, Pediatric Emergency Physician and Trauma Team Leader at IWK Health in Halifax. “I am proud of my colleagues such as Dr. David Mulder and Dr. Alan Drummond who have been advocating for action on gun control for decades.”
While there are many details to be reviewed in the legislation and this is undeniably an important step, there is much work left to do, including expanding direct federal support for community-led initiatives that address social determinants of gun violence – poverty and racism among them, and identifying new ways to reduce the smuggling of guns into Canada from the United States.
More than 75% of gun deaths in Canada are suicides and the science is very clear that restricting access to lethal means will save lives, particularly because most people who survive a suicide attempt do not try again, and the risk of a completed suicide with a gun is very likely. In addition, the arming of hate is an increasing cause for concern, as evidenced by the seizure of guns in Coutts, Alberta in February. We are concerned there is does not appear to be a clearer “red flag law” mechanism to quickly remove guns from someone who may be a risk to themselves or others in these contexts. We look forward to more direct engagement with Minister Mendicino on this subject.
CDPG has also advocated for a national firearms research and policy centre, a proposal that was the first recommendation in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security’s report on gun control this spring. Unfortunately, this too is not included. While some of our members have contributed to recent, important studies on gun injury and death in Canada, the government and public would benefit from better understanding the full breadth of the issue and to study existing and potential policies that will save lives and reduce harm from guns.
“The two most recent mass shootings in the United States – targeting the black community in Buffalo and children in Uvalde – are yet another wake-up call for Canadians to not only remain vigilant in our commitment to firearm restrictions but to work to strengthen policies and address social determinants that will reduce gun injury and death,” said Dr. Julie Maggi, CDPG co-founder and Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
While Canada’s rate of gun death is fortunately much lower than that of the United States, we compare much less favourably to other peer countries. In fact, our age-adjusted firearm mortality rate is 5th highest among 23 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is why CDPG members will continue to advocate.
“Preventing gun injury and death is, or at least should be, a non-partisan issue,” said Dr. Elizabeth Varughese, Family Physician and Clinical Instructor, University of British Columbia. “We look forward to ongoing dialogue with this government and the opposition parties to protect public health and well-being.”
On this important day, Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns recognizes the work of many other advocacy groups who have helped bring about the important changes made today, including PolySeSouvient, Danforth Families for Safe Communities, and the Coalition for Gun Control. We applaud their commitment.
About Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) is a grassroots organization concerned about the increasing public health impact of firearms. We represent physicians working in collaboration with nurses, paramedics, rehabilitation specialists, psychologists, researchers and other front-line health care professionals. We have all witnessed first-hand the emotional and physical trauma and devastation caused by guns. CDPG calls for a comprehensive public policy response to this crisis in our communities, including preventative tools to reduce gun use and their consequences on youth violence, domestic abuse, and suicide.
For more information, please contact:
Empower Consulting, for CDPG
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns is calling on the Liberal government to take bold action – and we need your help.
Please send your message to The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, right away.
Canada needs, urgently:
• a national handgun ban
• a “Red Flag” law
• a national firearms research centre
• community directed investments
• the assault weapons ban enshrined in legislation
CDPG submitted a brief to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security as part of their discussion on gun control
You may read our recommendations below and our full brief here:
Open letter to Erin O’Toole from Conservative partisans of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns
Mr. Erin O’Toole
Leader, Conservative Party of Canada
Dear Mr. O’Toole,
We are writing to you as traditional supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada. We are also physicians and members of the non-partisan organization Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG). Each of us has experience in treating some aspect of gun injury and have witnessed the toll this takes on victims, their families and communities, and our public health system.
Mr. O’Toole, we are deeply troubled by your policy approach to addressing gun injury and death in Canada and feel compelled to speak out.
Statement from Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and Danforth Families for Safe Communities on Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party platform
Far from being reassured by Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole’s statement yesterday regarding the ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, our organizations – representing physicians, scientists, survivors of gun violence, and anti-hate researchers – are further alarmed.
Mr. O’Toole has not committed to maintaining the assault weapons ban, nor has he committed to enshrining the ban in legislation and preparing to buyback the now-prohibited guns. The scientific literature from around the world is very clear: removing semi-automatic assault weapons from society and reducing access to guns generally is proven to save lives.
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) welcomes the Liberal Party of Canada’s commitments on gun control in its election platform released today. Among the commitments are a plan to strengthen the May, 2020 assault weapons ban to make it mandatory for owners of these guns to sell them back to the government or render them permanently inoperable.
“Assault weapons have the capacity to injure and kill many people in a very short period of time,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-founder of CDPG. “Ensuring these guns are permanently out of our communities or rendered inoperable is an important, evidence-based measure to protect public health and safety.”
Tougher gun control measures, as well as education and investments in communities are among the key priorities for Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns this federal election. Underlining the organization’s call for reform is the Canadian Medical Association’s recent release of its updated firearms policy, which states, “Canada should strive to have among the lowest rates of firearm related injury and mortality worldwide.”
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns welcomes stronger background checks as part of key progress on gun violence reduction
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) is very pleased with today’s announcement by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair regarding the implementation of key aspects of Bill C-71 (An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms), including the improving of background checks on new gun purchasers from only five years to a lifetime to take affect July 7th.
"Expanding background checks is a critically important strategy in reducing gun violence. Like all preventative public health measures, better screening will save lives,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, Co-Chair, Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns. It is smart, evidence-informed policy."
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns statement on the recent shootings of teenage girls in Toronto and Montreal
Members of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns share in the sorrow over the shooting of two teenage girls, a 15-year-old Montreal girl shot and killed in a vehicle, and a 14-year-old girl shot last night in her apartment in Toronto and in critical condition. We extend our sympathies.
Our communities must be safe – especially for our children. These latest examples – and they are only the latest – of gun violence involving children must be a wake-up call to all Canadians. As physicians, we see these tragedies up close. It is devastating for everyone involved. No doctor wants to have to take a parent into the “quiet room” to explain to them their child has not survived the brutality of a bullet. No doctor wants to meet another parent who will never be themselves again because we as a society have failed their child.
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality
Dear Minister Monsef,
With Canada set to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women December 6th – an event created to recognize the victims of the École Polytechnique mass shooting – I am writing to urge you and your government to take action on stronger gun laws.
As we know, gun violence prevention is a gender issue. Consider the following: the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability notes that in 2019, guns were the most common reported means of the killing of women and girls; and the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has specifically urged policy makers to take into consideration the link between firearms and gender-based violence.