A gun-control advocate whose daughter was shot in 2018 is praising a recently announced government bill and its goals to reduce gun violence Canada.
Ken Price, an Orillia native and member of gun-control advocacy group Danforth Families for Safe Communities (DFSC), considers himself an unlikely activist. He said the issue of gun violence was something his family “was not paying much attention” to in the past.
That was until July 22, 2018, when a 29-year old man shot 15 people along Toronto’s Danforth Avenue with a handgun, including Price’s daughter, Samantha, before turning it on himself.
While Samantha survived and made a full physical recovery, her friend, 18-year-old Reese Fallon, did not.
“It makes a big difference when it comes right into your home like it did for us. It was shocking. It was unexpected. Think of (Danforth Avenue) as an inflated Mississaga Street … and it’s a beautiful night, and she is exactly where you would want your 17-year-old daughter to be, which is with her friends, having ice cream. It was very, very shocking and jarring for us and that’s what’s certainly brought us into it,” Price said.
“We tried to figure out what we can do on behalf of other people because of what we went through, and that’s how we got involved in gun control and advocacy.”
Since 2018, DFSC has spoken to the media and lobbied the government to introduce more stringent gun-control measures.
The recently announced Bill C-21 proposes to freeze the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns in Canada, and increase penalties for smuggling or trafficking guns. It will also allow for firearms licences to be taken from those involved in domestic violence, and introduce a “red-flag” law that will require people who are deemed a threat to themselves to turn in their firearms, among other new restrictions.
The bill is set to come into effect this fall, according to the federal government website, and it has been met with criticism from members of Parliament and gun groups, who argue the legislation unfairly penalizes legal gun owners who are unlikely to commit crimes.
When it comes to gun legislation, Price says Bill C-21 strikes a balance between lawful gun ownership and public safety.
“The types of guns that are used in (criminal) scenarios are handguns and assault rifles, so if you take those out of the mix, and you leave all the people with their hunting rifles and shotguns alone, then I think we struck a balance,” he said. “This puts into balance the interests of gun owners and public safety, which is what I think they’re trying to do.”
Price said DFSC supports Bill C-21 for the range of additional measures it includes.
“I think, if you look at the whole program, we would say we support it because it’s holistic,” he said. “We think (the handgun freeze) and the other things the government’s talked about — tougher borders, tougher sentences for people who are caught smuggling … all of those things are part of the recipe that should lead to better public safety.”
Some of the criticism aimed at the bill are based on a lack of data on the legality of the guns used in crimes in Canada, and that legal gun owners are being unfairly penalized after passing through an already robust system for acquiring guns.
Price argues even with incomplete data on guns used in crimes, the cost of having handguns on the streets is too high.
“Are we going to wait for the database to catch up while people die? What’s the point? Nobody’s coming after hunters, nobody’s coming after farmers who use these things to ward off coyotes; this is not the target of (the bill),” he said.
“This is going to affect people who were peacefully using handguns and never would have acted in a way described, but the problem is I can’t look at an individual and say that guy definitely is not a criminal. We don’t know. Nobody knows. I think all you could do in balance is say, ‘Well, what are the kinds of guns that are used in crimes? Let’s take those out of the mix.’”