Liberal leader Stéphane Dion used Dawson College as a backdrop to announce his party’s platform on gun control. The announcement came less than a week before the two-year anniversary of the Dawson shooting and just days after the release of a coroner’s report into the shooting.
Among the recommendations from coroner Jacques Ramsay was that assault weapons, like the short-barreled Baretta CX4 Storm rifle used by Kimveer Gill, should be banned rather than simply restricted. A recommendation echoed by Dion, “these assault weapons have no connection to hunting or sports shooting and serve absolutely no purpose in our society, no one outside of the military needs these weapons.”
Other recommendations in the report, released Sept. 4, included making the federal gun registry available to school administrators and improvements to emergency planning by both the police and schools.
“We need to carefully study all the report’s recommendations because I always take into consideration experts suggestions when it comes to the safety of Canadians,” Dion said.
Dawson college officials were also pleased with the coroner’s recommendations.
“The report supports so many of our positions that we’ve been pushing for the past two years,” said Donna Varrica, communications coordinator for Dawson College.
“I can’t tell you how gratified we are,” she said, “to see that his number one recommendation was to tackle the issue of the gun licenses, the control and the availability of semi-automatic rifles.”
While Varrica said the report is a step forward for the college, she finds no closure from it.
“On a personal level, I’m not a strong believer in closure. You will always have to deal with the aftermath,” Varrica said. “Every day you go on, but I’m not sure it’s something that ever fully goes away.”
The day after the shooting that left two people dead and 16 injured, Dawson’s administration and security began talking about lobbying for stiffer gun control in Canada.
Ramsay also stressed the importance of emergency plans at academic institutions.
He recommended that universities and colleges work with police to fine-tune their emergency procedures, ensuring their effectiveness.
In his report, Ramsay praised the efforts of a few, individual police officers, but noted that, on a whole, their operation was largely improvised.
There were about 30 police officers on the scene within the first half-hour of the shooting, almost all of whom were in an unfamiliar environment.
None of the police officers responding to the shooting asked for help to orient themselves, and as a result few officers actually knew exactly where the shooter was located.
The report also provided details of what happened inside Dawson on Sept. 13, 2006.
Police fired only six shots with one of the bullets hitting Gill in the elbow.
Gill fired his semi-automatic rifle 72 times – 10 outside the school’s de Maisonneuve entrance, the rest inside the atrium.
Of those shot inside the school, most of the bullets were aimed at police.
Anastasia De Sousa, who was shot 10 times in her front and back, was Gill’s only victim to die.
Gill used his handgun to fire six shots, the last of which was used to take his own life.