Montreal Massacre survivors plead for greater gun control
Published Saturday, November 29, 2014 12:28PM EST
Nearly 25 years after 14 women were murdered at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, a group of school alumni, students and staff are demanding greater Canadian gun control.
On Dec. 6, 1989, gunman Marc Lepine walked into the college and went on a shooting rampage, killing 14 female engineering students and wounding fourteen other people before killing himself.
“I was shot four times,” survivor Nathalie Provost told CTV News Montreal on Friday. “It was chaos.”
Jean-Francois Larivee lost his spouse on that fateful day nearly 25 years ago.
“There’s not one day that passes I don’t think about her,” he told CTV News Montreal.
Provost and Larivee are members of “Poly-remembers” – a group dedicated to preserving the legacy of the victims of the Montreal Massacre, as well as one committed to the reduction of crime through greater gun control.
Gun control plea
On Friday, the group gathered in Montreal to target the federal government’s controversial Bill C-42. The bill -- formally titled “The Common Sense Firearms Act” -- was put forward by the governing Conservatives as an amendment to simplify the gun-licensing process for legal gun owners.
Bill C-42 was scheduled to be debated on Oct. 22, the day that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament after the shooting death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at Ottawa’s National War Memorial.
Bill C-42 seemed to be temporarily dropped from the agenda in the aftermath of the shooting, until Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney kicked off the bill’s debate in Parliament earlier this week.
But both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and gun-control advocates have said that Bill C-42 will relax regulations too much and lead to more gun crime.
“Poly-remembers” believes that Canadian gun-control laws are weaker today than they were in 1989, especially after the federal government’s decision to scrap the long gun registry. Quebec still maintains the registry, pending an upcoming Supreme Court ruling expected in 2015.
The Montreal Massacre helped to spur the Canadian gun control movement.
Survivor Heidi Rathjen -- who was at Ecole Polytechnique on the day of the shooting -- co-organized the advocacy group Coalition for Gun Control. Her activities, amongst others, led to the passage of the Firearms Act in 1995, which ushered in stricter gun control regulations.
Montreal massacre anniversary
Meanwhile, 25 years after the Montreal Massacre, Jean-Francois Larivee says he hasn’t been able to make sense of the motivations the led to his spouse’s murder.
“There’s no philosophy that exists on earth that is able to make sense of that,” he said.
Since 1991, the anniversary of the massacre -- which falls on next Saturday -- has been designated the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.