December 06, 1989 – 14 Engineering Students Murdered
Twenty-four years ago today on December 06, 1989 14 female engineering students were murdered at the École Polytechnique, an engineering school affiliated with the Université de Montréal. Another 14 were wounded when Twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine unleashed a dreadful reign of terror targeting all female students.
Lépine finally killed himself to avoid capture by the police. Lépine was armed with a Ruger-14 rifle and a hunting knife left behind a suicide explaining his motive. The note revealed that Lépine had lifelong grievances which he blamed on feminists.
December 06 was declared the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As is the case with many serious issues, the event led to public demands that all weapon should be registered.
The famous “Gun Registry “(Bill C-68, or the Firearms Act, in 1995) program was rushed into law in Canada and required that all guns would be registered. That program’s mismanagement by the civil service led to harsh criticism. A private member’s bill in the House of Commons led to the Gun Registry Program being finally struck down in 2010. The new government had adopted a “law and order” approach advocating harsher sentencing for those committing such crimes. Though it is difficult to understand why a hunter would object to having his/her long gun registered since they are also registered in order to obtain a hunting license.
Twenty-four years later, few (except for families of the murdered young women recall Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. These were bright young engineering students whose deaths make no sense even 24 years later.
Their deaths serve to highlight the need to invest tax money into the identification and mental health treatment of individuals identifying anti-social beliefs such as Lépine had exhibited in the weeks and months leading up to this tragedy. Having computerized lists of guns such as the Gun Registry Program or longer prison sentences for persons committing such crimes deal after the fact and would not (by themselves) prevent such tragedy. Certainly the money saved on scrapping the long-gun registry could and should be applied to mental health treatment.