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Danforth shooting victims call for handgun, assault rifle ban

Last Updated Feb 22, 2019 at 4:25 pm EDT

Toronto Mayor John Tory leaves a personal message on a makeshift memorial remembering the victims of a shooting on Sunday evening on Danforth Avenue on July 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

On the seventh-month anniversary of the Danforth shooting, close to a dozen victims and their families called for a ban on the private ownership of handguns and assault rifles.

Two people, 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, were killed, and 13 people were injured when Faisal Hussain opened fire on Danforth Avenue on July 22.

The group who organized the press conference said those who experienced the devastating gun violence want to ensure their voices will be heard on the issue of a possible federal handgun ban.

Noor Samiei, a victim of the Danforth shooting, Reese’s sister Quinn Fallon, and Ken Price, the father of shooting victim Samantha Price, all spoke in favour of the federal ban.

Quinn Fallon, Reese’s younger sister, said the pain and loss they feel without Reese and Julianna is indescribable.

“Because Reese and Julianna don’t have a voice anymore, we are doing this in their honour,” Quinn said. “No family should ever have to go through what my family and the Kozis’ family had to go through.”

“Reese always talked about her future — her future at McMaster (University), becoming a nurse and how many kids she wanted and where she wanted to raise a family,” she said, adding her family now feels “incomplete.”

Quinn urged people to sign the e-petition calling for the ban on civilian ownership of handguns and military assault weapons for Reese and Julianna.

Ken Price said they are asking their elective representatives to support the ban.

Samiei, who was with friends eating ice cream on the Danforth when four of them were shot, thanked the first responders and the Danforth community, as well as those who helped on that night of the shooting and afterwards.

She read a letter from the victims of the Danforth shooting and their family to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to ban handguns and assault rifles.

The letter acknowledges it is not the only step that needs to be taken to stem gun violence but they believe it will be impactful and effective.

Patrick MacLeod, a retired police officer, said he was sitting on the couch when his daughter called from a bathroom after she was shot. He said it’s time for Canadians to get off the couch, like he did, and start doing something about this gun violence.

“Call your representatives and say we don’t need handguns and assault rifles in Canada,” MacLeod said.

“Canada doesn’t need them. We don’t want to end up like the States and we are going down that road now. So we have to stop bringing these guns into Canada, legally or illegally.”

Clair Price, Samantha’s mom, said she can’t imagine what her daughter went through that night. She said she was lucky enough to have her daughter come home.

“I really want us to think long and hard about our attitudes to theses types of weapons, where they are ending up, whose using them, why they are using them,” Samantha said.

“I do understand this is just one piece of the puzzle in a complex problem. There are other issues around why we have so much gun violence in Canada … and the facts to me speak for themselves.”

The MP, MPP and city councillor for Toronto-Danforth were also present at the news conference.

MP Julie Dzerowicz has supported the e-petition in favour of the handgun and assault rifles ban. It currently has over 13,000 signatures.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has also been supportive of a handgun ban and thanked those who spoke in favour of increased gun control.

“I am heartened to know that there is, I believe, growing community support for the fact we need to change some of these laws in order to help us in the task of preventing incidents involving gun violennce from happening,” Tory wrote in a letter to the victims and families of the Danforth shooting.

Earlier on Friday, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders commented on the upcoming news conference saying, “Hopefully, these are platforms and opportunities for lawmakers to listen to the concerns and figure out what can be done from a realistic perspective.”

Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair launched consultations on the possible handgun ban. A report is due to be released in early 2019.

“We are committed to reducing gun and gang violence and keeping our communities safe,” Blair said Friday in a written statement. “To that effect, we are currently leading a collaborative and comprehensive review of rising gun violence across Canada and are considering all options, including a ban on handguns and assault-style rifles, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.”

Toronto city council passed a motion calling on the federal government to outlaw the sale of handguns in the city just two days after the shooting happened.

While NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to allow cities to ban handguns, Tory Leader Andrew Scheer said he wants to tackle a surge of gun violence in Canada by targeting criminals who use weapons illegally, rather than supporting an outright handgun ban.

With files from The Canadian Press