The federal government said Thursday (June 1) it has designated the first Friday of June each year as National Day Against Gun Violence.
Speaking at an event at the Toronto Raptors training centre in Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is committed to reducing gun violence across the country and fostering a national discussion about the causes of the issue.
“Today we are here to give even more tools to Canadians to be able to raise awareness on the ravaging issue of gun violence,” he told an audience that included his government’s officials, anti-gun violence activists and representatives of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.
“It will be a day of remembrance and a time to recommit ourselves to building a Canada free of gun violence.”
Trudeau said the shooting which left a couple and an assailant dead over the weekend in Hamilton, Ont., was a “heartbreaking tragedy” and he called for an end to such attacks.
“This has got to stop,” he said.
Trudeau said his government has taken strong measures such as freezing the national market for handguns, extending background checks and increasing penalties to those committing gun-related offences, including smuggling.
“There are examples of what we are doing to reduce the amounts (of) firearms circulating in our streets,” he said.
Thursday’s announcement comes as the Senate reviews a government bill that would cement restrictions on handguns, increase penalties for firearm trafficking, try to curb homemade ghost guns and ban assault-style firearms.
The Conservatives opposed the bill in the House of Commons, saying it penalizes law-abiding firearm owners instead of tackling gun crime.
The government has also earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for community programming aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, and deterring youth from taking up a life of crime.
“We are here to work alongside you on the National Day against gun violence and every day because every Canadian should have the freedom to go to their supermarket, their school, or their place of worship without fear,” Trudeau said.
The Canadian Press