Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Layton: ban on assault weapons

Layton speaks out for ban on assault weapons
NDP leader speaks out against private ownership of semi-automatic rifles
Ann Carroll, The Gazette April 04, 2007

The federal government should ban private ownership of semi-automatic rifles like the gun Kimveer Gill used during a shooting rampage at Dawson College, New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton says.

“The answer to gun violence is not to end the gun registry – it’s to ensure that assault weapons do not end up on city streets,” Layton told a receptive audience at the CEGEP yesterday, during an event organized by the Dawson Committee for Gun Control.

Canada’s firearms legislation, which includes restrictions on some guns and mandatory registration of others, is an effective tool in maintaining public safety, Layton said. There have been 300 fewer gun deaths a year in Canada since the gun rules were adopted in 1995, he noted.

The Conservative government has annonced plans to scrap the long-gun registry, for such weapons as hunting rifles and shotguns.

The Dawson Committee for Gun Control has started a letter-writing campaign and set up a website to promote public awareness of gun violence and stricter gun control measures.

The committee was set up in the aftermath of the Sept. 13 shooting, which left one student dead and 20 others injured. Gill killed himself after being wounded by police.

“We need to develop an awareness that the presence of guns among us is a risk,” committee chairperson Mary Hlywa said.

“At the very least, we should recognize that when people are vulnerable – isolated, unemployed, depressed, drug or alcohol dependent – their family, friends and colleagues need to ask, ‘Is there a gun in the home?' ”

Hlywa, who huddled with other students in her office during the shooting, said it is difficult to get members of the Dawson community to participate in the gun-control lobby.

“It’s painful,” said Hlywa, who teaches in the social services program.

“Many people experienced the vulnerability of gun violence for the first time, and some individuals want to think less about it, not more.”

Student Mark Kojima, 18, said he approved Layton’s support for the gun registry, and was even happier to hear him call for a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Kojima said he was on his way to the Dawson cafeteria last Sept. 13 when he heard gunfire, and ran into a panicked mass of students trying to escape.

“Before what happened at Dawson, the gun registry didn’t mean that much to me,” said Kojima, who is in his last semester in pure and applied sciences.

“Now I think it would be a big mistake to get rid of it.”

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janfromthebruce said...

good work Jack.