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Montreal gun control activists say they’re being intimidated by pro-gun activists

In this Jan. 19, 2016 file photo, handguns are on display. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Montreal gun control lobbyists say a group of pro-gun activists is engaging in a co-ordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation against them.

Activists from the group called Poly Se Souvient say their Facebook page has been under constant attack.

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“They have managed to get together and take our Facebook page down now three times,” said Kathlene Dixon-Dow, a member of Poly Se Souvient whose daughter was shot twice at the 2006 Dawson College shooting.

Pro-gun advocates have been sending Facebook a barrage of complaints. Poly Se Souvient has been reported for selling drugs, selling guns and more. The people making the complaints boast about them online.

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“So Facebook is just flooded with all these complaints, so they automatically take the page down rather than going through the complaints and looking at our page,” said Dixon-Dow.

She and other gun control activists say intimidation is nothing new. Dixon-Dow has received text messages containing pictures of guns, as well as people asking her where they could buy an assault rifle.

A text message received by Poly Se Souvient co-founder Heidi Rathjen in 2016.
A text message received by Poly Se Souvient co-founder Heidi Rathjen in 2016. Heidi Rathjen

Lawyer Julius Grey says just being sent a picture or being asked where to buy a gun isn’t necessarily a threat.

“To constitute a threat, there has to be a threat such that a reasonable person thinks it could be realized,” Grey told Global News.

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He says the repeated attacks on the Facebook group might be a crime.

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“It is harassment to try to prevent someone else from speaking,” Grey said.

A pro-gun group called “Tous contre un registre Québécois des armes à feu” posted on Facebook that there was a smear campaign against them.

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One of their members says threats and harassment are not the way to get their message across.

“We don’t want anybody to do that kind of action or something like that. We’re totally against it,” said Dominique Duchesne.

Duchesne recognizes that some pro-gun advocates are taking out their anger at feeling unheard on the subject of the Quebec gun registry. A judge recently ruled the registry will move forward.

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“There is a lot of frustration that came from the gun owners, that our point of view isn’t necessarily related to the media,” said the pro-gun activist.

Gun control advocates say they will keep spreading their message, and Duchesne said his group will tell its members that any harassment is unacceptable.

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