OTTAWA – Louis March, Founder of the Zero Gun Violence Movement (ZGVM) in Toronto, told the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on Monday that young people are saying it is easier for them to get a gun than a job.
” The young kids have spoken to us regularly,.. Imagine a 14-year-old telling you it’s easier for him to get a gun than a job. Something is broken, March warned.
He was addressing the committee studying Bill C-71, legislation to tighten Canada’s firearms law with changes to the background check system and new mandatory record-keeping practices for vendors.
March who is calling for a” more robust and intelligent gun administration policy,” noted the “significant increase” in gun homicides in Toronto – ” 51 in 2018; 22 in 2013. And guess what? We had eight in 1990. “Something has changed, something is changing, and we are always chasing the bullets these days. That is not what we want to see.”
March told the committee that the ZGVM works with those who have been impacted by gun violence – the mothers who have lost their children – and a group of people “who have done the crime, done the time and want to make a difference.
” So our perspective on gun violence is from two tables that are seldom heard from. ”
Also addressing the committee was Evelyn Fox, Founder, of Communities for ZERO Violence of Toronto, whose son was killed by a stray bullet on September 11, 2016.
“One act of violence, one bullet that took one person’s life, affects hundreds of people. We have hurting communities that see this on a regular basis, that are dying inside. There are little kids suffering from PTSD and have no impulse control, and what happens is the cycle keeps going and going,” Fox told the committee.
She said she supports Bill C-71 because some of the firearms are coming from straw purchasing and from firearms that are being stolen and then “are flooding our neighbourhoods and communities.”
Former Toronto gang leader Marcell Wilson who also addressed the committee, said that he does not support more restrictions for legal gun owners because of “fundamental flaws in the data put forth to argue for more restrictions.”
Wilson who is Co-Founder of One By One, said that ” people with my background and lived experience, and from my organization, know that a small majority of the guns that affect the communities we work within are not or were never resourced from legal gun owners unless they were stolen.”
“But it has been brought to my attention that 1,546 persons across Canada have had their licences revoked for what apparently looks like straw purchases. Even if one of those guns make it into my community, it affects us all.”
To help tackle the problem of gun violence, Wilson suggested “long-term funding through social economic programming, dealing with mental health, dealing with things on a grassroots level.”
March told the committee that ” legal guns can become illegal guns and any robust policy, any robust management policy, any robust oversight policy helps to eliminate that opportunity for that legal gun to become an illegal gun.”