N.B. father whose daughter was murdered wants new gun control debate

RIVERVIEW, N.B. -- A New Brunswick man whose young daughter was gunned down in a robbery is calling for a renewed debate on firearm control and the federal long-gun registry.

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Ron Davis said Tuesday he's concerned that military-style guns sold legally in Canada will end up in the hands of the wrong people.

"I have nothing against hunting rifles, that's fine," the 74-year-old Riverview man said in an interview. "It's the weapons that are available and legal that have nothing to do with hunting that concerns me most. We're just asking for another disaster to happen."

Davis's 16-year-old daughter, Laura, was shot and killed with a handgun in a convenience store holdup in Moncton in 1987. Since then, he's been an advocate for victims of gun violence.

Government response to gun violence is too often "lip-service," he said.

Davis questions the need for the types of powerful firearms seen in mass shootings in the United States and Canada, including the June 2014 murders of three Mounties in neighbouring Moncton by Justin Bourque. In that case, a semi-automatic rifle was used to kill the three officers and wound two others.

Bourque's lawyer, David Lutz, said the debate over gun control in Canada should be reopened after his client was sentenced to 75 years in prison in October 2014.

The RCMP officers were armed with guns that had a range of 50 metres, while Bourque's gun -- a Poly Technologies M305, 308-calibre semi-automatic rifle -- had a range of 250 metres.

In an interview Tuesday, Lutz said there was simply no need for powerful weapons that are meant for the battlefield.

"The only people who need them are soldiers and police officers and the police officers have not the greatest need for these kinds of guns," said Lutz. "The gun that Mr. Bourque used was a rendition of a sniper's rifle."

Lutz said Ottawa could simply deal with the weapons without opening a wider debate about gun control.

"You can zero in on these types of weapons in particular. It's very simple, you put them in the classification under the Criminal Code of prohibited weapons."

Antoine Bastarache, president of the Kent County Gun Club in nearby Bouctouche, N.B., agrees that there is no place for weapons that could possibly be converted to fully automatic, but he's also quick to point out that hunting rifles and shotguns are also semi-automatic.

"Some people don't distinguish between those and that causes a problem," he said. "But fully automatic guns like that, they shouldn't even exist in this country."

Bastarache said there is no need for the federal government to reopen a debate on the long-gun registry, which he described as a "lost cause and a loss of money."

The former Conservative government abolished the federal database for long guns in 2011 as part of a long-standing campaign promise.

Davis said he decided to speak out now after a two-page ad from a gun shop featuring mostly military-style firearms appeared in a local newspaper in December.

"I thought, boy, if there are people out there that possibly have mental deficiencies or problems, we're just planting a seed in their mind that these guns could do it the same as they see on TV," he said.

Meanwhile, Davis said he and his family are preparing to attend a parole hearing in Quebec in April for the man convicted in his daughter's shooting. They have never missed a hearing, he said.

"That's the least we can do for my daughter, is be there."

Patrice Mailloux was convicted in the spring of 1988 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. Davis said he is seeking unescorted day passes and full parole.


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