Proposed gun laws wouldn't have saved man who disclosed mental illness on licence application, family says

Glenn Clavier says the federal government's proposed changes to gun laws wouldn't have saved his brother Adrian Clavier, who used a registered gun to take his own life in 2015.

Adrian Clavier's family says he should not have obtained a gun licence due to mental health issues

Reva Clavier's brother Adrian Clavier took his life in 2015 using his own, legally registered handgun. (Cliff Shim/CBC News)

Glenn Clavier says the federal government's proposed changes to gun laws wouldn't have saved his brother Adrian Clavier, who used a registered gun to take his own life in 2015.

The Saskatchewan man self-declared his history of mental illness on the gun licence application, and his family reported their concerns to authorities, but he got a licence anyway.

"He had expressed some ideas that he might want to get even with bullies from his childhood, and the family was going through a difficult time," Glenn told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

"We were concerned about his safety and we were concerned about the safety of family members and the community in general. We didn't know what he was going to do with those guns."

Adrian Clavier, pictured in this 1985 family photo, had what his family considered an unhealthy obsession with guns, and they reported their concerns to police. (Submitted by Reva Clavier)

The family approached the municipal police and the RCMP, but he said the concerns were "blown off" by the authorities. They were told that because the guns were licensed and properly stored, and there had been no complaints, there was nothing the RCMP could do.

Glenn was extremely disappointed when the federal government announced the prosed changes to the gun laws.

If there's no mandatory follow up, then we're no further ahead.- Glenn Clavier

The Liberal government hopes to tighten Canada's firearms law with changes to the background check system, which would now demand the RCMP examine a person's entire life history for potential red flags.

The new laws don't make it mandatory for the RCMP to follow up with a medical professional or social worker if a person indicates on their gun licence application that they suffer from mental illness, however.

They also don't include any provisions that officers must follow up on concerns raised by family members, and they don't make it mandatory for psychiatrists to flag concerns with police.

"If there's no mandatory follow up, then we're no further ahead," Glenn said. "Adrian would still be dead."

Psychiatrist not consulted

Adrian was 50 years old when he died. He'd been under psychiatric care for 35 years and was on heavy medication that could have contributed to suicidal thoughts.

He disclosed all of that information on his gun licence application, yet the Saskatchewan official who approved the application never spoke to his psychiatrist or got a medical opinion to see if Clavier should have a gun.

"Why was his psychiatrist not consulted? It just makes no sense to us," Glenn said.

Adrian Clavier, pictured here in 1974, was a happy child, according to his family, but he struggled with mental health issues his whole adult life. (Submitted by Reva Clavier)

According to RCMP statistics, 80 per cent of firearm deaths in Canada are by suicide.

When applying for a firearm licence, you must declare if you have a history of mental illness. If you check that box, an interview with the firearms officer is mandatory.

The RCMP told CBC that whether the officer then contacts the applicant's mental health practitioner is left to the officer's discretion, and the health professional is not required to provide the officer with any information.

Adrian was interviewed three times for three separate applications over a 15-year period, but the officers never contacted his psychiatrist.

"Adrian was so straightforward that had anyone ever, at any point, asked him directly if he planned to commit suicide with his gun, he probably would have answered yes," Glenn said. "That's just who he was."

With files from Saskatoon Morning, Go Public and John Paul Tasker