6 December: Remembering the Montreal Massacre

For 45 minutes on 6, December 1989 an enraged gunman roamed the corridors of Montreal's École Polytechnique in Canada and killed 14 women with his .22-calibre rifle. Marc Lepine, 25, separated the men from the women and before opening fire on the classroom of female engineering students, he screamed, "I hate feminists." Almost immediately, the Montreal Massacre became a galvanizing moment in which mourning turned into outrage about all violence against women.

22 years later, IANSA women around the world are still campaigning to end armed violence against women as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

In Canada, record keeping on small arms is now at risk. In October this year, the government of Canada proposed ‘Bill C-19’, a law that aims to end obligatory registration of ‘non-restricted firearms’. This category of guns includes rifles and shotguns such as the Ruger Mini-14 which was used in the Montreal Massacre.

A broad coalition of organisations and public sector agencies,including medical associations, police, women’s shelters, survivors and IANSA members the Coalition for Gun Control and Project Ploughshares, are campaigning to prevent the Bill from being passed into law. They say, “The amendments contained in Bill C-19 will put Canadians’ lives at risk”.

Thank you to Suzanne Laplante-Edward, Mother of Anne-Marie, one of the victims of the Montreal Massacre, for sharing a personal note below:

November 29, 2011

On December 6th, 1989, a man upset about womenentering the engineering profession entered École Polytechnique, the engineering faculty of Université de Montréal in Canada, with a legally acquired semi-automatic weapon.  He separated the men from the women and shot 28 people, killing 14 young women - including my daughter.  The tragedy was the catalyst leading to stronger firearms controls in Canada with the Firearms Act enacted in 1995, which we, the victims' families, regard as an important legacy to the memory of our daughters lost that day.  Part of the Firearms Act’s requirements are renewable photo-ID licenses to purchase guns and ammunition, and the obligation to register every non-restricted rifle and shotgun.  The long-gun registry has proven of immense value not only in reducing homicides with firearms, but also in helping the police take preventive action and inconducting criminal investigations.

However, Canada recently elected a Conservative majority government. It introduced Bill C-19 on October 25th, which not only proposes to eliminate the obligation to register long guns (rifles and shotguns) but also plans to destroy all the existing records (of 7.1 million guns).  It will even make it optional for dealers or individuals selling long guns to verify whether the prospective buyer actually possesses a valid license.  This will not only hinder the police's ability to trace crime guns, but also enable people to purchase unlimited numbers of firearms like the military-style Ruger Mini-14 used to kill my daughter in 1989 (and in another mass shooting this year in Norway) without coming to the authorities' attention.  Canada's ability to comply with international agreements to reduce the illicit trafficking of small arms is also going to be irreparably compromised by this ill-conceived proposed law.

Suzanne Laplante-Edward, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

For more information, visit Coalition for Gun Control’s website: http://www.guncontrol.ca/English/Home/Home.htm