Doctors protest gun violence

Vancouver physicians want gov't to amend current gun laws

Photo by Rena Medow.
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Reported by Rena Medow

Gun violence is one of the world’s most pressing public health issues, causing avoidable injuries, death, hardship and horror, according to a Vancouver physician.

“Gun violence has increased by over 40 per cent in the last five years in Canada, making our country number four or five in the developing world in terms of firearm-related mortality. That’s an embarrassment,” said Peter Dodek, an intensive care physician, health services researcher and professor at UBC.

Dodek and a dozen other health service workers and gun control supporters met outside of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Wednesday to take part in a local rally as part of national call to action organized by the nonprofit Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns.

Gun violence has increased by over 40 per cent in the last five years in Canada, making our country number four or five in the developing world in terms of firearm-related mortality. That’s an embarrassment.

-Peter Dodek, intensive care physician, health services researcher and professor at UBC

Supporters of the nonprofit are hoping to pressure the government to take fast action on passing Bill C-71, which is currently in the final reading at the Senate. The bill would amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms, such as allowing the RCMP to make decisions on restrictions and by changing how Canadian’s register rifles.

According to supporters, the movement goes beyond just making amendments to national regulation.

“I don’t think this proposed legislation goes nearly far enough. I think we need a complete ban on cartridges that shoot multiple bullets, on semi-automatic weapons and I would go so far as to say a ban on personal handguns,” said Liz Fendley, a retired family doctor.

Fendley and others hope that by reducing the number of weapons in society, there will be less terrorist activity, suicides and domestic and accidental deaths and injuries.

Genevieve Ernst, who works at the emergency department at BC Children’s Hospital, said that she’s seen an increase in gun violence across Canada with children.

“The impact this has on families and on children themselves and long-term in society is massive, and I think probably underestimated at this point too.” Ernst said.

Many doctors who attended the rally have witnessed the effects of gun violence first-hand.

Trauma surgeon David Evans said although the conversation around gun control can be contentious and difficult, it’s important to address in a civil and thoughtful way.

“About a plane-load of people die from gunshot wounds in British Columbia every year,” Evans said. “So I don’t think standing on the sideline of this issue is an appropriate option.”

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