‘Deeply concerning’: Quebec marks anniversary of university shooting

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Prosecutors are investigating the death of two university students and the wounding of seven others

The deadly shooting rampage at a Quebec City university on Thursday night has raised questions about mental health, lack of access to firearms and the country’s gun laws.

Quebec’s prominent Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec parties, which had vied to be the country’s next government, quickly moved to shift the focus away from politics and onto gun violence, a uniquely Québécois phenomenon in which a series of victims was killed by a single person.

Still, the subject is also one that resonates with many Canadians over what they see as a shortage of strict gun control laws in their country compared with their southern neighbors.

How the Polytechnique shooting continues to haunt Quebecers Read more

The shooting that left six women dead at Université Laval and two others wounded highlights the wave of domestic violence that has long plagued the Canadian province.

In 2013, Daniel Bissonnette was arrested after breaking into a home in Saint-Étienne, 90 miles south of Montreal, where he killed his ex-girlfriend, her daughter and her new boyfriend. In 2016, he was convicted of first-degree murder in that case and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

In November 2014, a 45-year-old native of the Lacolle First Nation is accused of killing four people in Ste-Foy, a Quebec City suburb.

In May 2017, Adam Boucher, a teenaged native, is charged with killing four people, including his father and mother, and wounding five other family members.

Patsy McGeough, a sociology professor at Queens University, said there’s “very strong evidence for guns being extremely problematic” when there’s no background check for those seeking a license. She said that if someone is a high-risk individual and who is prohibited from owning firearms by a court order, they’re supposed to have a check-in with an appointed interlocutor in order to see if they can find someone who can receive the order.

“If someone is legally allowed to have a gun but is forbidden from doing so, you’d have to have that person checked in and that person be notified that they’re not allowed to have firearms,” she said.

Patsy McGeough (@patsymcgeough) This happens all the time. Often despite a ruling. https://t.co/3QXj3H5EFa

But the city where the shooting took place on Thursday is not alone in having this issue.

Geoffrey Millard, the principal of English Montreal School Board, said there were five deaths at a school in the city between 2016 and 2018. “In my 15 years at the school board I have never seen it that high,” he said. “Six is very, very bad.”

In January 2018, an off-duty nurse with no criminal record took a single bullet to the chest and survived a shooting at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Montreal that left two people dead and nine others injured.

The Quebec Liberal party, which holds a minority of seats in the provincial legislature, promised in its recent election platform to bolster the efforts by Quebec police to prevent and respond to firearm deaths and injuries.

It would also provide an extra $50m over the next five years to boost the province’s treatment and rehabilitation for people in need of mental health care.

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