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"Even in the Dawson situation, I believe it was an illegally obtained firearm. So what we have to do is stop that from happening." — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, Sept. 12, 2021.
O'Toole made the statement during an interview on the CBC, on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Dawson College shooting, after being asked about whether he would maintain or repeal the Liberals' ban on assault-style firearms, including the Beretta Cx4 Storm. Kimveer Gill used that semi-automatic weapon during the school shooting in Montreal on Sept. 13, 2006, killing 18-year-old student Anastasia De Sousa and wounding 16 others before taking his own life.
O'Toole has been accused of not being clear with Canadians after previously speaking out against the ban, which the Liberals introduced in May 2020. Weapons on the list cannot be legally used, sold or imported. The Conservative platform had promised to repeal the ban, but O'Toole last week broke with the platform and said he would maintain it. The party has since changed the online version of the platform; while the pledge to repeal the Liberal order-in-council remains in the document, a footnote has been added promising that "all firearms that are currently banned will remain banned.'' O'Toole said he would keep the restrictions in place while his party conducts a review of Canada's gun classifications system.
The Dawson College shooting was the subject of an inquest conducted by Quebec coroner Jacques Ramsay. His detailed report on the shooting was released on Sept. 4, 2008, and it stated Gill legally acquired the Beretta Cx4 Storm and two other restricted firearms before the shooting. Ramsay said the Storm had been fired 72 times during the shooting rampage, and he called for a ban on the semi-automatic rifle.
Asked about his comment on Monday, O'Toole told reporters during a campaign event in Ottawa that he wanted to "clarify that I was referring to the illegal transport and storage of that firearm." He went on to say that a Conservative government would maintain current restrictions and provide police and border agents the tools they need to fight gun smuggling and shootings.
The firearms used during the Dawson College shooting in 2006 were legally obtained.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2021.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press