Update on the Nova Scotia massacre

The horrific massacre by a lone gunman in Nova Scotia is even worse than originally reported. It now appears that he killed 22 people during his 12-hour rampage dressed as a police officer and driving a replica of a police vehicle. The increase in numbers is because authorities have found bodies in buildings that he set on fire.

It appears that he had targeted his first victims who were known to him and then went on a killing spree on anyone who had the misfortune to cross his path as he drove around.

The remains of Elizabeth Joanne Thomas and her husband, John Zahl, are believed to be still inside the burned-out two-storey log cabin, their grandson Justin Zahl told the Associated Press. Their home was next to that of the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, 51, and is thought to have been among the first properties to be attacked.

As the attacks unfolded, police warned residents of the rural community to lock their doors and stay in their basements.

Many people were already at home because of the coronavirus lockdown, but Lillian Hyslop had ventured out for a walk when she was shot dead. A neighbor, Debi Atkinson, told the Chronicle Herald that Hyslop’s encounter with the gunman appeared “100% random”.

Authorities believe Wortman may have targeted his first victims but before attacking anyone on his path as he drove around.

They included Gina Goulet, 54, who had almost fully recovered from a second diagnosis of brain cancer when she was killed, according to her daughter, Amelia Butler.

While these kinds of mass shootings are common in the US, this is not the case in Canada. Following this carnage, prime minister Justin Trudeau has called for a ban on all assault-style weapons, legislation for which had been in the works even before this shooting.

During last year’s federal elections, Trudeau campaigned on tightening Canada’s gun laws by banning all military-style weapons and helping cities issue their own handgun bans. In their party platform, Trudeau’s Liberal Party wrote that military-style assault rifles “are designed to inflict mass casualties and have no place in Canada.”

“Canadians are tired of excuses and know that ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t make our communities any safer,” it added.

With Canadians now grappling with the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history, the question is whether they will follow the path of nations like New Zealand, which quickly tightened laws following the 2019 Mosque shootings, and Australia, which swiftly passed new gun control legislation in the wake of a 1996 shooting that killed 35 in Tasmania. Whether Canada takes swift action also depends in part on when parliament can return given the current threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

I am not sure how strong the gun lobby is in Canada and what their stance is on this legislation.


  1. says

    Can we please stop talking about “military-style assault rifles” and “military-style weapons?”

    The terms are meaningless as regards to stopping these kinds of mass murders.

    What we need to ban is unlicensed private ownership of ALL semi-automatic long- and short-arm weapons unless the owner has a license identical to the current Class 3, Federal Firearms license which covers fully automatic weapons here in the United States.

    Semiautomatic weapons are not hunting weapons, they are solely for the purpose of killing humans.

    Until we shut them down, the tragedies will continue.

  2. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 hyphenman
    Can we please stop talking about “military-style assault rifles” and “military-style weapons?”

    Ah, in Canada probably not. I understand your point and it would be nice if new legislation followed something like your suggestion but my suspicion is that very few Canadians, and reporters are no exception, would grasp your distinctions.

    The last time we had a major tightening of the gun laws, this was a major issue with the press, the public, and the lawmakers.

    While there are a lot of legally owned long guns in Canada you are likely to find most of them in rural areas. My bet would be most urbanites have never seen one in real life and the only real handgun they have ever seen is in a police officer’s holster.

    Most Canadian reporters would likely not know the difference between a double-barrelled shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle.

  3. jrkrideau says

    @ Mano
    <iI am not sure how strong the gun lobby is in Canada and what their stance is on this legislation.
    Me neither and I live here. There will be some nutters that admire the NRA in the US but it is unlikely that there is enough of a nutty “gun lobby” to do much.

    Legitimate gun lobbyists might have been able to affect the proposed legislation, quite possibly in positive ways, before the shooting but I doubt now.

  4. says

    The shooter had multiple instances of harassing neighbors, his ex-girlfriend and several other. But as always, the Racist Corrupt Misogynistic Prigs (RCMP) did nothing in advance, took no action to prevent this.

    Correction, the RCMP did take action: intentionally destroying records they were supposed to keep after the conservatives dismantled the gun registration system in 2012. The 22 deaths can be lain at the feet of Stephen Harper and the cops as much as at the shooter’s.


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