Following another chaotic shooting incident in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to act now on guns
Toronto, ON, June 19, 2019 – Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take decisive action to protect the health and well-being of Canadians following a chaotic shooting incident in Toronto that for many, marred a tremendous public celebration of the Toronto Raptors championship basketball team. Doctors and other health care workers at the downtown Toronto hospital nearest the shooting treated not only the direct victims of gunfire, but injured children, pregnant women in distress, and those suffering from emotional shock.
“Monday’s near mass tragedy is a direct result of the proliferation of guns in our society,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-Chair of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns and a trauma surgeon at St, Michael’s Hospital. “The Prime Minister needs to act now on handguns and assault weapons before another event happens.”
The Canadian experience tells us shooting events such as the one that occurred Monday in Toronto are not limited to big cities. Moncton, La Loche, Fredericton, and Quebec City have all been sites of mass shootings. We also know the type of guns used vary – and they can be legally obtained or illegally obtained. The perpetrators and motivations change. The common denominator is always the gun.
The proliferation of guns represents a growing public health threat. Statistics Canada reports that firearm-related violent crime has increased 42% since 2013. Canada has the 5th highest rate of age adjusted, standardized firearm mortality among 23 peer countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2018). Women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Shooting was the most common method of their killing in 2018 at 34% according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability.
“Guns inflict psychological trauma and an emotional toll that lasts well after physical wounds have healed and impacts communities of people beyond direct victims,” said Dr. Julie Maggi, Executive member of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns and a Psychiatrist at St. Michael’s Hospital. “Comprehensive action on guns must be a public health priority.”
Missing in calls to restrict gun bans to cities is the reality that gun violence, per capita, is higher in rural Canada than urban. Further, 75% of gun deaths are suicides – a crisis that knows no municipal boundaries. Nor can femicide or accidental shootings be considered distinct geographic phenomena.
Polls consistently show tremendous public support from all parts of the country for a ban on handguns and assault weapons. Such measures are also strongly supported by medical research which consistently shows a clear correlation between restrictions on access to guns and improved public health and safety.
“Election promises are nice, but Canadians need action now,” said Dr. Philip Berger, senior adviser to Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns and Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. “While the gun industry lobby continues to spread false information in its hurry to sell more guns, the public health of Canadians remains at risk. The Prime Minister witnessed first-hand the impact of guns on the public. He cannot maintain his government’s inadequate compromise on effective gun control legislation.”
More than 1,000 health professionals and medical students in 16 cities participated in a National Day of Action on April 3rd in support of Bill C-71 and a ban on assault weapons and handguns. In April, the Canadian Medical Association Journal endorsed advocating for a public health approach to guns. The medical community is broadly united on this issue and Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns intends to ensure gun control is an issue in the upcoming federal election through a variety of campaign interventions.
“Stronger gun laws hurt no one, and they will save countless lives,” said Dr. Ahmed. “Those who wish to lead must put public health and well-being first.”
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.
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