Doctors want comprehensive policy commitments on reducing gun violence from all political parties
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.”
Recent high-profile shootings in public spaces illustrates the danger guns pose to our communities, yet this rash of gun violence makes up only a fraction of the gun injuries and deaths that devastates families, scars communities, and stresses our public health system. Canada ranks fifth among 23 peer OECD countries in firearm mortality rate. According to an Ontario study last year, suicides in rural communities make up the majority of gun deaths.
Shootings are regularly the most common reported means of killing women and girls in Canada according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory’s annual reports. For every gun death in Canada there are many more victims whose lives are saved but suffer long-term physical and mental health consequences, a 2020 study made clear.
“This is unacceptable and preventable harm,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, a trauma surgeon and co-founder of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns. “Over the next five weeks, we will be seeking strong commitments from all candidates to take an evidence-based, public health approach to reducing gun injury and death in Canada.”
Advocacy for policies and legislation to reduce gun violence has helped generate political action on banning assault weapons, strengthening background checks, and supporting community programs that address social determinants of gun violence such as poverty and racism. Earlier this year, legislation was introduced that would have empowered municipalities to ban handguns and create a “red flag” law in order to remove guns from people at risk to themselves or others, yet C-21 did not pass before the election.
Canada’s next government will have to go further to significantly reduce the threat of gun injury and death. This will include standing up to our country’s NRA-style gun lobby. CDPG is encouraging its members to seek commitments from all major parties and candidates for the following:
- A national ban on handguns
- A red flag law backed by supports for women confronting abuse and for those dealing with mental health challenges
- The creation of a national firearms research and policy centre
- A national strategy backed by appropriate funds to address social determinants of gun violence
- Legislation to enshrine the 2019 Order-in-Council ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, including an effective buyback program, and evergreening mechanism to prevent similar guns from coming to market
- Measures to prevent the smuggling of firearms from other countries
- A harm-reduction approach to the advertisement and sale of guns
“This election offers the potential to open a new era for public safety and gun control,” added Dr. Ahmed. “More work has to be done to catch up to many of our peer nations on preventing firearm-related injury and death.”
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
416-996-0767 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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