10 years after Dawson: Coroner's recommendations and continuing debate
With a report from Rob Lurie
The coroner's reports on Kimveer Gill and into Anastasia De Sousa's murder exensively document what led Gill to walk into a school he had never attended and begin shooting at random.
That report on Gill (at the bottom of this article) said he was an introverted, hypersensitive, unemployed man who abused alcohol, and who sought help for depression two years before the shooting, but gave up treatment when a psychologist urged him to get weekly care.
The reports also provide recommendations into how to prevent mass shootings, with Jacques Ramsay calling for a ban on the semi-automatic carbine that Gill used.
His recommendations have largely been ignored.
A madman's attack
Gill wrote a last will and testament around 2 a.m, made a blog post at 3:30 a.m., and woke up at 8 a.m.
He blogged that he had problems putting in his contact lenses, then had several drinks and was near the legal limit for driving when he arrived at Dawson College and parked his car near Wood Ave. shortly before 12:40 p.m.
Gill already had two firearms concealed under his trenchcoat, grabbed a bag with additional weapons and ammunition, and started walking toward the school.
As soon as he stepped out of the car a witness spotted the weapons and called 9-1-1, describing what he saw to agents.
On the way he pointed a weapon at a passerby and ordered him to carry the bag.
One minute later Gill spotted the police car parked in front of Dawson College and opened fire, shooting six people in front of the school.
After the first salvo Gill dashed inside the building and Constable Alain Diallo, who was sitting in the squad car when Gill began shooting, gave chase.
Gill passed through several doors and entered the school cafeteria, then turned a corner and hid behind a wall as he dropped his carbine on the ground, pulled out his pistol and started firing.
Anastasia De Sousa was turning around to see what the noise was when she was struck by some of the first bullets fired inside the building.
Diallo saw De Sousa fall, then reached a position where Gill could not leave his corner without being shot.
Pinned in place, Gill held two people at gunpoint and took cover, making them act as human shields.
Gill screamed at officers and alternated between insults, orders to leave, and putting his pistol in his own mouth.
The standoff ended twenty minutes later when Gill decided to attempt to walk out of the cafeteria using two hostages as human shields.
One of those hostages was James Santos.
Police officers on a mezzanine saw the hostages walking forward with their hands up, and realized Gill was trying to walk away from the area.
Officer Denis Coté saw the gunman's feet, then his legs, and took aim at where the gunman's torso would appear in a matter of moments.
He fired several bullets, one of which hit Gill in the arm.
Gill dropped to the ground, and his hostages ran off, looking back to see Gill kill himself.
The year after the shooting, then-Premier Jean Charest, along with Nelson and Louise De Sousa, introduced Bill 9 at Dawson College.
Known as Anastasia's Law, it law restricts ownership of semi-automatic weapons to gun club members.
It also requires people to apply for gun permits in person at a police station and pass an aptitude test.
"If Mr. Gill would have to show up at a police station physically, in person, and ask for a registration, maybe that would have unleashed some inquiry," said Charest in 2007.
Gill was a member of a shooting range, although he rarely visited after losing his driver's licence.
He also used legally obtained and registered weapons to commit his attack, which he was able to obtain by having his parents sign the necessary documents.
Gun control advocate Heidi Rathjen believes the law has done some good and she commends Quebec for having some of the toughest gun control laws in North America.
Within a year and a half Quebec will get its own long-gun registry
"I'm thrilled as a Canadian because I think that guns are dangerous objects and need to be controlled," said Rathjen.
But she feels laws still fall short, because gun makers have adapted.
As an example, the weapon used by Gill, a Beretta Cx4 Storm semi-automatic was a restricted weapon ten years ago and required a special permit.
Since then Beretta has made minor modifications to the Cx4 so it is no longer restricted.
The Harper government also altered gun laws and scrapped the federal gun registry.
There are now 800,000 restricted firearms in Canada, twice as many as a decade ago.
Can criminals be prevented?
One provision of Anastasia's Law requires professionals to report suspicious behaviour to police, even if that violates doctor-patient confidentiality.
That clearly did not work in the case of Metropolis shooter Richard Bain, who was known to possess multiple firearms and occasionally act erratically.
"The law is so specific that maybe the mental illness of Richard Bain was not necessarily seen as a threat for gun misuse," said Rathjen.
Gun owners frequently dismiss gun control laws, with almost everyone CTV Montreal spoke to a weekend gun show saying it is impossible to control dishonest people.
"Any criminal can get a gun, that's the problem. An honest guy can't get one," said Robert Page.
The gun collector added he had 20 weapons stolen from his home in the Eastern Townships.
Tony Santos brought his ten-year-old son to the show, and said Quebec shouldn't bother creating a new long-gun registry.
He said the government should pursue criminals who illegally obtain firearms.
"The government should focus on putting money into restricting illegal guns, instead of trying to create databases and registries of legally obtained guns," said Santos.
"But every time pro-gun people bring that up, it's like we're crazy."
Critics said that attitude ignores the problem of law-abiding gun owners with no criminal history choosing to use their weapons to commit a crime.
"If we allow this person to have his gun then we have to allow Valery Fabrikant to have his gun, and Justin Burke having his gun, and Kimveer Gill having his gun and Richard Bain to have his guns," said Rathjen.
Coroner's report: Kimveer Gill by CTV_Montreal on Scribd