Anti-gun groups call for stronger action to deal with escalating violence

Members of the Zero Gun Violence Movement (ZGVM) and Communities for Zero Violence (CZV) in front of the Parliament Building in Ottawa. In circle are Louis March, leader of the ZGVM, and Kelly Whetter, leader of the CZV.

Members of  two community  groups from  the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)  travelled to Ottawa last week to press their demands for stronger political action to deal with the escalating problem of gun violence.

Both  groups –  the Zero Gun Violence Movement (ZGVM) and Communities for Zero Violence (CZV) – held discussions with five federal Members  of Parliament from the GTA  about  various gun -related issues.

The  groups which included several mothers who have lost children to gun violence,  also brought to attention of  the MPs the  lack of sufficient  victim support  services.

Louis March, the ZGVM founder, told the Caribbean Camera that with the increasing  incidents of gun violence in the GTA,” we felt the urgent need to meet with the MPs to seek a solution to the problem,”

Noting that there was a nearly 100 per cent  increase in gun homicides in Toronto over the past three  years, he said the he  discussed with the  MPs the “changing trends ” in gun violence – ” more accessible guns, higher  calibre  weapons,  younger  people using guns and  the brazen nature  of the shootings.”

He said he also pointed out that in many communities  ” right here in the GTA, it was easier for young people to get guns then jobs.”

“Where are the guns coming from?  And why is there so much gun violence  in the communities already suffering from poverty, under-employment, poor family supports, and inappropriate and poorly timed services? These were some of the questions raised at last week’s meeting,” March said.

Kelly Whetter, the leader of the  CZV, who lost her only child to gun violence in April last year,  said  her group voiced their  concerns about  the  slow moving judicial system in processing court cases.

She said the  MPs  ” listened  to  us  and I believe that they realize  that there is a  lot  of work to be done to solve  the problem of  gun violence.”

March noted that the meeting was scheduled for only 60 minutes but” both ZGVM and CZV were able to deliver loud and clear messages about our concerns and our willingness to work with political leaders to find solutions to the gun violence crisis and the resulting hurt, pain, grief and trauma that is having on parents, families and communities,”

The  MPs present at the meeting were Gary Anandasangaree from the Scarborough -Rouge Park riding, Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering), Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest) and Marco Mendicino (Eglinton -Lawrence.)

March said Blair issued an invitation to the groups to meet again to discuss gun violence issues and ways to address them ” with active community engagement. ”