Canada should seriously consider a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles like the one used to kill a teenage student and wound 16 other people at Dawson College two years ago, a coroner said Thursday.Coroner Jacques Ramsay said after releasing his report into the Sept. 13, 2006, rampage that compact guns like the Beretta CX4 Storm rife used by killer Kimveer Gill are light and accurate weapons that shouldn’t be available to the public.
“I think we definitely need to take this into consideration,” Ramsay said of a ban, saying a similar move by Australia had produced positive results.
Gill was able to obtain the weapon legally before he stormed into the college’s downtown campus on Sept. 13, 2006, fatally shooting student Anastasia De Sousa and spraying bullets that sent students and staff scambling for cover.
Ramsay praised police and said that the quick actions of one officer prevented a repeat of the 1989 Ecole polytechnique massacre where 14 women were killed by gunman Marc Lepine. He said it is vital to isolate the shooter rapidly, as police did. “When we’re talking about an active shooter we must intervene quickly,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay said Gill, who had consumed a few drinks before the rampage but was not intoxicated, fired 72 times with his semi-automatic rifle and six times with a handgun. De Sousa was hit about 10 times in the front and back.
“It is likely she was shot mortally with the first shot,” Ramsay said of the slain 18-year-old. “I believe that she died quite quickly, in the first minute.”
Montreal police, who managed to wound Gill in the elbow when they managed to corner him, fired a total of six bullets. Gill killed himself after he was wounded.
Ramsay also said health and education professionals should be able to have broader access to the federal and Quebec gun registries as part of protocols to prevent future rampages.
Ramsay recounted the rampage in exacting detail during a news conference, tracing the movement of Gill and pursuing police during the incident. He traced the route of the shooter on a large diagram of the college, using a laser pointer. He said police should continue to improve their training in handling such emergencies and schools should have an emergency plan in place. In his report, Ramsay said police should work with schools to fine-tune emergency plans and to set up an effective communications system in case of an emergency such as a school shooting.
“At the moment, a case like Dawson tests the limits of 911,” Ramsay said in commenting on the emergency communications the day of the rampage.
He also said Montreal police should follow the example of some other police forces and give their officers access to heavier weapons, such as shotguns or other long-barrelled rifles, at the district station or in supervisor’s cars. The coroner said police cars should also be equipped with global positioning systems to improve and better organize response in emergencies.
Ramsay said Gill suffered from psychological problems such as recurring anxiety, hypersensitivity and depression. He threatened to commit suicide in 2004 and drank between two and seven drinks per day.
De Sousa’s family was not immediately available to comment on the report.
-with a report from CP
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