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Montreal General Hospital doctors, trauma staff speak out against gun violence

Montreal doctors speak out about gun violence
Doctors from the Montreal General Hospital took to the streets on Wednesday to raise awareness over what they call a growing public health crisis. As Global's Phil Carpenter explains, the doctors say urgent action is needed to tackle gun violence before it gets worse.

Trauma staff at the Montreal General Hospital gave an unusual workshop Wednesday to anyone who listen, providing instruction for how to deal with gunshot wounds.

It was part of a national day of action by doctors and other medical staff across the country to draw attention to gun violence, because the problem is getting worse.

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“It’s time for us to re-frame the question about access to firearms away from a political question,” Dr. Jeremy Grushkya, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, told Global News, “and start framing that through a public health lens.”

According to Statistics Canada, there were 223 gun-related homicides in Canada in 2016 — 44 more than in 2015.  Grushka’s colleague Dr. Paola Fata, another trauma surgeon, says they’re seeing more gunshot injuries at that the Montreal General, as well.

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“When I started my training here 10 or 15 years ago, we would see maybe five a year, and that was considered a lot,” she said.  “It’s now about 50 and it has been going up incrementally every year.”

They want to tell the public just how serious the problem is, and to push the federal government to do something.

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“We would like to see the government pass Bill C-71,” Grushka stresses.

The bill was tabled just over a year ago and is now before the senate.  Among other things, it will boost background checks and require gun vendors to keep a record of sales for at least 20 years.

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But the bill doesn’t go far enough for people like Jean-François Larrivée, whose wife was murdered at École Polytechnique in 1989.  He wants the kind of action seen in the aftermath of the New Zealand massacre.

“In [a matter] of weeks the prime minister there decided to ban guns and semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity chargers,” he said.

“We want the same thing — very simple, we want the same thing for Canada.

The hope is that someday these doctors and nurses won’t have to teach members of the public how to treat victims of gun violence.