Doctors take stand against gun violence, call for stronger firearm laws

A group of doctors in Canada is taking a stand against gun violence and calling for stronger laws governing firearms to prevent shooting deaths and injuries.

The group includes doctors who have treated victims of gun violence.

Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, a new organization, launched a campaign on Monday to put pressure on the federal government. It is calling for “swift passage” of Bill C-71, firearms legislation currently in the Senate, and a ban on handguns and assault weapons.

“It is time to reframe the debate about guns in Canada and look at firearm related injuries and deaths through a public health lens,” Dr. Najma Ahmed, a co-chair of the group and trauma surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, said in a news release on Monday.

“Death and injury by firearms are preventable tragedies. We are calling on policy makers to demonstrate courage and take decisive action to protect the safety of Canadians.”

The organization includes family doctors, emergency room physicians, trauma surgeons, and psychiatrists.

National Day of Action planned for April 3

On Feb. 18, the group has been asked to speak before the Senate’s standing committee on national security and defence, which is studying Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms.

On April 3, the group is planning to hold a national day of action to back its call for stronger gun laws.

Dr. Lynn Wilson, a co-chair of the group and a family physician and vice dean at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, said doctors see the impact of gun violence firsthand.

“Our professional experiences with victims of guns includes operating on children dying from accidental gunshots, holding the hands of domestic violence victims shot by their abusers, and counseling the families of people who have taken their own lives by gun,” Wilson said in the release.

In a position paper on its website, the group says governments should recognize that gun deaths and injuries have become a public health issue in Canada.

“We know the pro-gun lobby is going to try and muddy the issue,” Dr. Alan Drummond, a rural emergency physician in Perth, Ont., said.

“But our expertise— and our professional responsibility — is in the protection of public health.”

Drummond said doctors feel compelled to take action on the issue.

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