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Ensemble Montreal calls for motion to control firearms, ban private handgun possession

"With the approach of the anniversary of the [École Polytechnique massacre], we think that it is appropriate to open up once again the debate on the control of arms in the city," said leader of the opposition Lionel Perez.
"With the approach of the anniversary of the [École Polytechnique massacre], we think that it is appropriate to open up once again the debate on the control of arms in the city," said leader of the opposition Lionel Perez. Graham Hughes / The Canadian

Ensemble Montreal, the official opposition,  is calling for a motion to effectively control firearms in Montreal.

“With the approach of the anniversary of the [École Polytechnique massacre], we think that it is appropriate to open up once again the debate on the control of arms in the city,” said leader of the opposition Lionel Perez.

On Wednesday, the opposition said in a press conference they are calling on the federal government to ban the private possession of handguns. They say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to ban assault weapons without grandfather clause is a step in the right direction, but offloading the responsibility to municipalities is a bad idea.

READ MORE: Trudeau government introduces gun bill to tighten control of sales, licensing

“This approach would not only be ineffective, but it would also be unrealistic,” said Heidi Rathjen, an anti-gun activist and witness of the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting.

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“Gun control is a criminal issue, criminal issues are a federal jurisdiction and so measures to control guns should ideally be at the federal level whenever possible.”

‘We cannot forget’: 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured
‘We cannot forget’: 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured

According to Statistics Canada, the number of handguns in the country has doubled in the last seven years.

On March 20, 2018 the federal government introduced a gun bill aimed at tightening control of sales and licensing.

Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms inventory and sales for at least 20 years under government legislation introduced today.

READ MORE: Trudeau vows to ban military-style assault rifles, including AR-15

The proposed measure — part of a wide-ranging firearms bill tabled in the House of Commons — is intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes.

Trudeau vowed to ban assault rifles if re-elected on Sept. 20, 2019.

House of Commons observes moment of silence for Ecole Polytechnique
House of Commons observes moment of silence for Ecole Polytechnique

Ensemble Montreal hopes the government will follow through on its promises, but insists the responsibility not be given to municipalities to restrict or ban handguns.  That, they said, would cause gun lobbyists to fight back and “cities do not have the time and money to do that,” according to Rathjen.

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“If we don’t reverse this proliferation of hand guns we may reach a point of no return if we haven’t already” Rathjen.

“The community of Polytechnique has been fighting for tougher gun control including a ban on assault weapons [for 30 years]. In this era of mass shootings, students are worried.”

— With files from Global’s Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press