London

'I really don't think that's the answer'; London doctor rejects call for firearms ban

A group called Doctors For Protection From Guns wants a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada. But Dr. Greg Mosdossy, who treated the wounded from the shooting at École Polytechnique in 1989, disagrees with his colleagues.

Dr. Greg Mosdossy is speaking out publicly after some colleagues demand a ban on handguns and assault weapons

The federal government is being urged by some physicians to ban assault rifles and handguns. (RCMP M Division)

Dr. Greg Mosdossy has seen a lot of gun violence in his 30 years as an emergency room physician.

In 1989, he was one of the doctors to respond to the bloody shooting at École Polytechnique in Montreal, where 14 young women were gunned down.

"I was on site pronouncing these wonderful, young, up-and-coming, highly intelligent women who were dead on scene," said Mosdossy, who is now working at the London Health Sciences Centre.

The incident left a mark. At the time, his daughter was two and his son just seven months old. "I slept on the floor of their room for six months after [the shooting]."

But, that isn't stopping Mosdossy from speaking out against a call to toughen Canada's gun laws — a call that's coming from some of his professional colleagues.

"We can make our families and communities safer. Say yes to a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada," states the website of Doctors For Protection From Guns.

On April 3, the organization held a national Day of Action in 13 cities across the country to raise awareness about their cause. The group also wants federal politicians to pass Bill C-71, the proposed legislation that would bring in stricter gun ownership rules.

"I really don't think that's the answer," Mosdossy told CBC Radio's London Morning. "I think that we're very highly regulated and we have very strict gun laws already in Canada."

'It's just a wonderful sport'

Mosdossy, his wife and two of his three children are avid shooters and hunters.

"So, we have a great passion for the sports and the safety around those sports," he said. "Following the laws and regulations, the discipline, the focus; it's just a wonderful sport."

He doesn't equate that love of shooting with the gun violence some doctors are seeing, typically in major centres such as Toronto.

"I didn't think that [Doctors For Protection From Guns] represented our profession. I wanted to speak out and show that there is another side to it," he said. "I also felt that it wasn't evidence-based and I wanted to present, or at least get together with colleagues who have already worked very hard to present, the evidence against the efficacy of that sort of ban."

The proposed firearms legislation represents "modest" but necessary reforms to reduce the frequency of violent gun crime, according to the Liberal government.

Mosdossy said most of what he treats as an emergency physician are injuries related to motor vehicles, alcohol, drugs, knives and solid weapons such as bats.

"I see tons and tons of that at work," he said. "To ascribe similar outcomes to guns when we know that we have literally millions of gun owners and tens of millions of guns around us and we have a relatively small number of homicides and incidents of gun violence. I just don't see that blaming the guns is really a viable argument."

'I would like to see less polarization'

Mosdossy would like to see more dialogue between political leaders, firearms sporting associations, health care professionals and legislators around what's really behind the gun violence.

He points to a lack of enforcement and the country's mental health crisis as strong contributors to gun violence.

"I don't think the police and border services have adequate funding or support to stop guns from being imported or smuggled into Canada to end up in the hands of criminals. I think that's a huge area."

When it comes to mental health, Mosdossy points to a lack of resources to get timely help for anyone, including gun owners, who might be struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, psychosis or other personal crisis.

"I witness that every day," he said. "Helping those individuals feel empowered to say 'Look, I think I need someone to hang on to my guns for awhile while I get over this' and actually be able to get help."

Mosdossy doesn't want to polarize doctors against each other on this issue. It's another reason he's speaking out.

"Doctors don't always agree. That's part of our heritage and informed, spirited dialogue and conversation have always been part of my profession."

"My hope is that this doesn't become confrontational. I hope that we can sit down and discuss these things the same way we would any other health care related, scientific endeavour and come up with solutions."

"My goal in life is to save lives and decrease suffering," he said.

Dr. Greg Mosdossy is an emergency physician at LHSC and he tells London Morning that stricter gun laws won't necessarily result in fewer gunshot victims. 10:00

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated that Bill C-71 would ban handguns and assault weapons. In fact, the proposed legislation would bring in stricter firearm ownership rules.
    Apr 18, 2019 9:30 AM ET

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