Not any more

Dawson victim’s mother speaks up for registry

In Canada on September 17, 2010 at 14:50

MONTREAL – Four years after a gunman killed her daughter at Dawson College, Louise De Sousa had a message Thursday for members of Parliament scheduled to vote next week on the fate of Canada’s much-maligned long-gun registry.

"If gun violence happened in your family, how would you feel about it?" De Sousa, 47, asked. Just imagining that scenario should make anyone who is unsure of the value of the registry want to support it, she said.

"You have to be humane."

De Sousa made the comments after a news conference at Dawson College where student leaders and members of the CEGEP’s teachers’ and support staff unions reiterated strong support for the registry. De Sousa, who intended to be present, wasn’t because she was too upset about a video game based on the shooting that surfaced on the Internet this week.

"It blew my mind," De Sousa told The Gazette by phone, about the video game. "How could anyone be so insensitive? I spoke to people who were there the day of the shooting and they were very upset" about the game.

But her support for the Dawson community’s cause – to oppose Bill C-391, which if passed would abolish the long-gun registry – has not wavered, she said. "It’s only logical. We have permits to drive and passports to travel. We have to keep the registry."

Gabriel Tordjman, second vice-president of the Dawson Teachers’ Union, criticized registry opponents, including members of the Conservative government, who have tried to pit city dwellers who want the registry against rural gun owners who don’t: "For us there is no rural/urban split on the issue of reducing homicides and suicides caused by firearms."

"As targets of gun violence in the past, it pains us greatly that an occasion for uniting and healing should be used for making division in our country," Tordjman added. He said Dawson was appealing to all Canadians to "make their MPs listen to reason. If we accept the licence and registration for a car, we certainly should accept it for long guns."

Michaël Lessard, of the Dawson Student Union, said "since that time, when the shooting happened, we were able to feel less afraid because we knew there was a government watching over us. We now expect the Harper government to hear our message and to keep protecting us."

He said the students’ association plans to rent buses to transport as many students as possible to Parliament Hill on Wednesday, the day of the vote on the bill, to voice their support for the registry.

Meanwhile, a group of Montrealers whose lives also were shattered by the Dawson shooting and the 1989 shooting at École Polytechnique travelled to New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton’s Toronto riding yesterday, urging him to persuade more of his caucus to vote to keep the registry. A fifth NDP MP, Carol Hughes, has announced she will not support the bill.

"The gun registry is the only good thing that came out of the Montreal tragedy," said Suzanne Laplante-Edward, whose 21-year-old daughter was among 14 women slain by Marc Lépine on Dec. 6, 1989, at the Polytechnique.

At a news conference, Hayder Kadhim, 21, acknowledged the registry didn’t stop the Dawson shooting – or change the fact he was shot at the college. But the registry is "an essential component of gun control," Kadhim said. If Bill C-391 passes and 7 million long guns are deleted from the registry, he will hold Layton "personally responsible."

The group said they are trying to persuade Tory MPs in Quebec – where the registry is popular – to change their votes, but to no avail so far.

mharrold@montrealgazette.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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