The Habs star took to Instagram to issue a message Tuesday morning — less than 24 hours after he doubled down on his initial post, which sparked backlash.
“I think the people of Montreal know my heart and my character and know I would never intentionally cause pain to those impacted by gun violence,” Price wrote. “Despite a previous statement released, I did in fact know about the tragedy. I have been a member of the Montreal community for 15 years and I understand the weight this day holds within the community.
“While I have no control over the timing of the amendment to Bill C-21 I stand by the opinions I’ve shared, I acknowledge that amplifying any conversation around this week may have upset some of those impacted most by the events here in 1989 and to them I apologize.”
The apology comes after Price came under fire for his social media post published over the weekend, in which accompanying picture shows him in hunting apparel and holding a firearm.
Price wrote in part: “I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What Justin Trudeau is trying to do is unjust. I support the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights to keep my hunting tools.”
The post went up just a few days before the 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique shooting, one of Canada’s worst mass shootings. A lone man entered the engineering school in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989, and fatally shot 14 women.
The shooting left several others injured, including Nathalie Provost. She is also a spokesperson for gun-control group PolySeSouvient.
“I think his comment just adds confusion to a very complex debate,” said Provost in an interview Monday. “I’m very sad that he did it because he’s a real Canadian symbol, and people love him and believe in this guy.”
Provost said Price’s publication suggests that those in favour of gun control are against hunting, when it’s not the case.
“We are for a better control and what we want is safety for all Canadians and assault-style weapons are extremely dangerous,” Provost said.
In late November, the Liberal government proposed an amendment to the government’s gun control bill C21, which defines what an assault-style weapon is. It includes a clause that would ban any rifle or shotgun that could potentially accept a magazine with more than five rounds.
The proposal is currently being studied by the House of Commons’ public safety committee.
It builds on a regulatory ban of more than 1,500 models of what the government considers assault firearms.
Critics disagree with the definition in the amendment and defended Price’s position in his original post.
“The proposed definition is so vast that it opens the door to targeting several models of semi-automatic weapons. That’s how hunting rifles are being targeted,” said Stéphanie Vadnais of the Quebec Federation of Hunters and Fishermen in an interview Monday.
“Carey Price is saying out loud what many Quebec hunters think.”
Meanwhile, Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety argues the government is not targeting law-abiding gun owners, “but rather those AR-15 style guns, which have been used in some of the worst shooting tragedies in the country’s history, including at Polytechnique.”
“I would say that based on the images that we’ve seen, that the gun in Carey Price’s social media post is legal and will continue to be legal. Even after we passed Bill C21.”
Habs said Price didn’t know about Polytechnique
In his apology Tuesday, Price said he did know about the Polytechnique tragedy — directly contradicting what a member of the Montreal Canadiens front office said the previous day.
France Margaret Bélanger, Groupe CH’s president, told Radio-Canada on Monday that he wasn’t aware the Polytechnique shooting had happened.
Before issuing his apology, Price took to Twitter on Monday night. He doubled down on his initial message about gun control.
“My views are my own and I do believe in them. The only reason I bring up this issue is because it is what’s being brought up now and not out of disrespect to anyone,” he said in part.
In a second tweet he wrote: “I continue to stand beside my fellow hunters and sport shooters who have legally acquired our property and use it in a safe manner.”
Price also said he didn’t agree with the “POLY” promotional code the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, a gun lobby, had created a few days before, offering a discount over the purchase of their merchandise.
The gun lobby defended the use of its code but wouldn’t respond to questions on whether the organization was in touch with Price before his post went up or if it asked for his help.
“Our promo code was in no way a reference to the tragedy at Ecole Polytechnique. It was a two-week-old response to a Twitter account (@PolySeSouvient) criticizing us for fundraising. Any suggestion to the contrary is blatantly false,” wrote Rod M. Giltaca, CEO and executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, in an email.
In another tweet, the Montreal Canadiens posted a statement saying Price was unaware of the timing of his statement and of the promotional code.
“The Montreal Canadiens wish to express their sincere apology to any and all who have been offended or upset by the discourse that has arisen over this matter in recent days.”
The statement said the organization has made a donation to Polytechnique’s “Week of the White Rose” campaign to send 14 underprivileged girls to Polytechnique’s science summer camp.