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.
A wide body of scientific evidence has underlined the risks guns pose to women, leading the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada to recommend that, “when there is concern regarding intimate partner violence or family violence, the presence of a firearm in the home must be determined and, if present, should be considered a risk factor for homicide of a family member.”
I am pleased that your government introduced a ban on assault weapons. Still, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put women and girls at particular risk of violence. I encourage you in your role as Minister for Women and Gender Equality to support further actions to prevent gun violence, including:
• A ban on handguns and large capacity magazines
• A meaningful red flag law to remove guns from people who are at risk of violence
• Stricter policies on gun storage
• Changes in advertising rules to incorporate public education
• Assistance for organizations providing gender-based violence supports and services
I invite you to view more evidence and listen to moving stories from women who have been directly affected by gun violence on a new educational video from Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns.
Minister Monsef, now is the time to act to make women and girls safer from guns. Please help lead the fight for change.
Najma Ahmed MD, FRCS
Philip B. Berger MD, CCFP
Julie Maggi MD, FRCP
Lynn Wilson MD, CCFP
Co-founders, Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns
CC: The Honourable Bill Blair