TORONTO (CUP) â€” Students from Montreal’s Dawson College visited Parliament Hill last week to join the fight against the Conservative government’s plan to scrap the long-gun registry.
Audrey Deveault, chairperson of the Dawson Student Union (DSU), appeared before the Standing Committee on National Security on Nov. 17. She and other attendees spoke out against Bill C-19, which seeks to end existing federal firearms registration requirements and destroy all records that are currently contained in the Canadian Firearms Registry.
“It was more of an emotional presentation, I think â€” mainly, how students feel facing the imminent abolition of the long-gun registry,” Deveault told Canadian University Press. “We wanted them to know about what was going on at Dawson five years later â€¦ [and] how many people were affected, in their everyday lives, after that tragedy.”
This past September marked half a decade since the 2006 shooting tragedy at Dawson, when one student died and 19 were injured after 25-year-old Kimveer Gill opened fire on the campus. One of the three firearms Gill used was a registered rifle.
“We’ve been victims of gun violence â€¦ we are always very involved in that battle to keep gun control very active,” said Deveault.
LÃ©o Fugazza, director of internal affairs and advocacy for the DSU, told Canadian University Press that Dawson students have been actively working since the 2006 shooting to make sure “it doesn’t happen again.”
“When we went to the [parliamentary] presentation, our main message was, ‘Please don’t rush things, please consider all the options,’” he said.
“Before taking a decision, you need to get in touch with experts, but also victims, and people who are directly involved with the registry â€” and then take a decision in regards to those experts and those victims,” Fugazza continued.
Deveault explained that the DSU made an official submission to give a presentation to the parliamentary committee, which was accepted â€” though they still haven’t heard back about a meeting they had recently requested to have with the prime minister.
“Obviously, we’re not expecting necessarily a yes, but we were certainly not expecting to be ignored completely by the prime minister,” she explained.
The Conservatives have stated previously that the gun registry is “ineffective” when it comes to reducing crime, often targeting innocent gun-owning citizens instead of criminals.
“The Harper government has always been clear; by eliminating the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, we can instead focus our efforts on measures that actually tackle crime and make our streets and communities safe,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement last month.
While Bill C-19 was officially introduced in Parliament in October, the Conservatives have attempted to end the registry previously but have been unsuccessful due to their minority government status. Now with majorities in both the House of Commons and the Senate, the Conservatives are expected to pass the bill with relative ease.
â€” With files from Sarah Deshaies