Canadian Doctors for Protection releases CDPG 1 Year Later: New Stories from the Frontlines and a Cri de Coeur for Change
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) marked one year since its launch with an event in Toronto today to release a new booklet of reflections by physicians and other health professionals on treating victims of guns. Selected stories were read by prominent authors including former Governor General the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson and Giller Prize winner Dr. Vincent Lam.
CDPG 1 Year Later: New Stories from the Frontlines and a Cri de Coeur for Change contains more than 25 first-person accounts from across the country highlighting the numerous tragic consequences of gunshot wounds on victims and their families. Stories of gun homicide, suicide, femicide, accidental shootings of children, rehabilitation and treatment of gun injury, and psychological trauma on victims, survivors, families, health workers, and communities are told with searing reality and an urgent call for change. Every story is a cautionary tale of the risks posed by the proliferation of guns in our communities.
The booklet also induces the release of an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair proposing an agenda for action.
Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair: One year later, new stories from the frontlines and an urgent call to act on guns
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Blair,
One year ago, physicians and health workers from across the country came together with an urgent appeal to our government: act now to reduce the human trauma caused by guns. Motivated by our firsthand experiences healing the wounded, rebuilding the broken, comforting the dying, and supporting the families of gunshot victims, we came together as servants of the public, our interest: the health and well-being of Canadians. Our message then, as now, is that it is time to take a public health approach to address this growing crisis, as we have with other social threats, from tobacco to road safety. This is how Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns came to be.
Over the course of the year, our organization has brought together 14 medical associations from across the country. We have received the endorsement of the National Council of Women of Canada. We presented overwhelming evidence – more than 150 citations to date - that restricting access to guns saves lives. We marched in the streets and organized community information sessions. We wrote letters to government and had editorials published on our behalf.
And we continued to treat victims of guns: women shot by their intimate partners; rural residents taking their own life with a firearm; revelers of an urban celebration terrorized by a public shooting young; men fighting to overcome the bullets of a handgun; children caught in the crossfire. Multiple surgeries. Numerous counselling sessions. The echoes of screams that never go away.
Some of these experiences are included in a booklet we are releasing publicly today called “CDPG 1 Year Later: New Stories from the Frontlines and a Cri de Coeur for Change”. The stories are shocking, yet so common – and so preventable. Change is needed. Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Blair, you are in positions to make this change. You must act, quickly.
From the beginning, our asks of government have been simple: reduce the proliferation of guns in our society, educate Canadians about the risks of guns in our homes and communities, and invest in the social determinants of gun violence.
Today, we are reiterating these asks and calling on your government to also take the following specific actions as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence:
Act to ban semi-automatic weapons from our country. While there is much political gamesmanship over definitions of assault weapons, the government must move immediately to enact a federal ban on the sale of weapons that can cause so much human carnage so quickly. The weapons ban must be clear, comprehensive, and err on the side of public safety.
A reasonable buyback program and stricter storage rules should follow. Invest in social determinants of gun violence to better support vulnerable people and communities. These investments should be tailored to local needs and aimed at reducing poverty, addressing inequities, and providing opportunities for young people. Groups such as Health Providers Against Poverty have expertise and recommendations that should inform the next federal Budget.
Implement a “red flag law” and other measures to lower the risk of suicide and femicide by preventing or withdrawing access to guns for people who pose a risk to themselves or others. Such measures should be combined with strengthening mental health supports.
Implement harm reductions strategies including warnings on all advertising and at the point of sale of guns to inform Canadians of the increased risks of femicide, suicide, and unintentional shootings of children posed by having a gun in the home.
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns is also supportive of measures to stop the flow of illegal guns at the Canada-US border, encourage international efforts to reduce the proliferation of guns, and follow evidence-based measures on criminal justice policy.
Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Blair, in poll after poll, Canadians have made their views known. We do not have to live in fear of guns. We do not have to go down the path of the United States on guns. We do not have to wait for more people to die from guns. We can act.
It is time for you to lead.
Dr. Najma Ahmed
On behalf of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns