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Liberals lag in gun control promises, mass shooting survivors say

WATCH ABOVE: Meaghan Hennigan, a survivor of the Dawson College shooting 11 years ago, spoke out in Ottawa Thursday on what she said was lagging action by the federal government to address proper gun control laws.

Survivors of mass shootings say the Liberal government needs to do more to protect Canadians.

READ MORE: FBI conducted over 200,000 gun background checks on Black Friday

A group of survivors and families of victims addressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly in a press conference Thursday, saying they expected better from the Liberals.

“We did not expect the Harper government to ban assault weapons, but we are expecting it from Mr. Trudeau,” Meaghan Hennigan said.

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Hennigan is a survivor of the 2006 Dawson College shooting, where a man shot 20 people (one fatally) at a CEGEP in Montreal, before shooting himself.

The shooter used a Cx4 Storm semi-automatic weapon — a weapon that was restricted at the time “but because the killer was a member of the gun club, he could own one – despite behaviour that deemed him unsuitable for military service,” she explained.

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READ MORE: Liberals have a lot of gun-control promises left to make good on, but insist it’ll all be done soon

She also explained that since the shooting, the gun manufacturer has released an updated model of the gun, one that isn’t even restricted.

“In fact, most Canadians would be shocked to learn that most of the guns used in recent shootings in the United States are available for private ownership in Canada,” Hennigan said.

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“Many assault weapons are unrestricted. It’s ridiculously messed up. These are the kind of weapons that an individual can seriously injure about 50 people in a mere matter of minutes.”

WATCH: Victims of gun violence call on feds to improve gun control in Canada

Victims of gun violence call on feds to improve gun control in Canada
Victims of gun violence call on feds to improve gun control in Canada

Election promises and legislation

Heidi Rathjen, a survivor of the Polytechnique massacre that saw 14 women killed and another 14 injured in 1989, says the group has been waiting for a bill enforcing stricter gun control since 2015.

In the lead up to the last federal election, Trudeau promised to tighten gun control laws including enhanced background checks for restricted weapons, and more record-keeping for suppliers.

READ MORE: Quebec gun lobby group facing criticism for rally at Polytechnique memorial

But Rathjen said they were disappointed to learn a bill won’t be put forward by the end of the year, as the Liberals had previously promised.

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The Liberals did say they are aiming to introduce “a legislative package consistent with the measures laid out in [their] election platform” in the “near future,” according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety.

“The government believes in effective firearms measures that prioritize public safety while ensuring fair treatment for law-abiding firearms owners,” Scott Bardsley said in an email to Global News.

He said the Liberals have already implemented several gun control measures, including not allowing manufacturers to determine the classification of their own products and establishing a Firearms Advisory Committee to research firearms issues.

But Hennigan and her group think the laws need to go further.

“Mr. Trudeau, we expect you to keep your word when it comes to gun control laws. Get them out of our streets…keep them out of the hands of dangerous people,” she pleaded.

“This is Canada, we’re Canadian, and we expect and deserve common sense Canadian gun laws.”

Here’s a look at what the Liberal government has promised to do on gun control. 

Kept promises:

  • Rejig membership of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee.
  • Repeal the previous government’s legislation that gave politicians the final word on weapons restrictions, rather than police.

Lingering and broken promises:

  • Immediately implement regulations for marking imported guns.
  • Roll back a law the previous government enacted allowing people to transport restricted and prohibited weapons without a permit.
  • Bolster background checks on people looking to buy handguns or other restricted firearms.
  • Require anyone buying a handgun to show their licence, and require the seller to confirm the validity of that licence.
  • Ensure sellers keep records of their inventory and sales in order to help police investigating firearm trafficking or other gun-related crimes.
  • Provide $100 million to provinces every year to help get illegal guns off streets.
  • Invest in tools to help border guards to intercept illegal guns from the U.S. entering Canada.
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*With files from Amy Minsky