On July 20, 2012, tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado leaving an entire nation overwhelmed with fear and sadness. During a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises a lone gunman equipped with multiple firearms entered a crowded theatre and opened fire, claiming the lives of 12 people and injuring 58 others.
The gunman who mercilessly opened fire in a crowded theatre in Colorado was operating a Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun and a .40-calibre Glock handgun, all of which he purchased legally in the United States.
In Canada, we pride ourselves on being a peaceful and non-violent nation. For decades, Canadians have recognized the importance of remaining vigilant about gun control. This was reflected in the adoption of a federal gun registry which not only ensured that all individuals who wished to own and operate firearms went through strict and thorough licensing process but also saw to it that all guns, long and short were registered in a database.
Established in 1995, in the wake of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre, the long gun registry was a valuable public safety tool which was utilized roughly 16,000 times each and every single day. However, earlier this year, with the passage of Bill C-19: An Act to Eliminate the Long Gun Registry, the Remington shotgun that was used in Aurora, is now considered to be an unrestricted firearm meaning that it would no longer have to be registered.
The passage of Bill C-19 not only resulted in the loss of an important public safety tool, it also represented a step toward adopting more lenient gun control laws in Canada. Having played an active role in establishing the long gun registry and having dedicated a great deal of time to defending its value, I was particularly dismayed when it was dismantled.
Tragedies like the one that shook Aurora are a reminder of the importance of remaining vigilant about gun control. Handguns and long guns, both of which were used during this massacre, are equally dangerous and we as a society have a responsibility to do everything in our control to ensure that they stay off our streets.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims who lost their lives in Aurora, Colorado and my thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. As parents grieve the loss of their children, a husbands and wives grieve the loss of their spouses let us work together to help ensure that our streets remain safe and that gun violence does not plague our communities.