Gun Violence and Medicine

The FMWC supports the position of the Canadian Doctors for Protection From Guns.

In summer 2018, physicians in Canada and the US engaged in an impromptu social media campaign against gun violence in response to a tweet form the American National Rifle Association telling them to “stay in their own lane” regarding gun control. In no time at all, heart wrenching stories of gunshot injuries and deaths flooded the internet from physicians who have seen all they can take of the senseless gun violence sweeping North America. Check out the Twitter account @ThisIsOurLane and #ThisIsOurLane to keep up with the discussion.

The statistics are troubling. Within a context of decreasing crime, gun violence is increasing. [1] According to the CBC Report on Gun Violence in Canada, of the 130 homicides in 2016, handguns were used in 21%, and in 58% of shooting homicides. Compare this to the US where 47% of shooting homicides are handgun related. And while gun-related crime has been dropping in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver, it’s on the rise in Calgary and Toronto. [2] Regina has the highest gun-related crime at 59/100,000, while the rate of gun-related crime in northern communities is double that in southern communities. [1] The recently published report, Femicide in Canada 2018, found that 34% of femicides were committed using a firearm.[3]

Overall, there has been a 42% increase in gun violence since 2013. [1]

The number of accidental shootings causing injury or death remains relatively stable at about 240 per year. Of those, 13 people die. The more concerning statistic is that 75% of all suicides from 2000-2016 involved a firearm. [2] This is particularly troubling for youth, especially young men, who are more likely to die from a gun-related injury than from fires, falls, and drowning combined. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends screening for gun ownership and to make parents aware of the risks to children and counsels safe storage away from children. Screening should also be done in instances of mood disorders, substance abuse or self-harm. In cases where guns are accessible, the recommendation should be to remove them. [5] The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, in their Intimate Partner Violence Consensus Statement, recommends screening for IPV for prenatal patients and if positive, determine the existence of a firearm and subsequent risk for homicide. [6]

Gun control is a public health issue for individuals, their families and the communities they live in. Most gun-related injuries are entirely preventable with policies that restrict access to guns. Despite the fact that a growing majority (69%) of Canadians support gun control legislation, it remains a contentious issue pitting gun enthusiasts and hunters against almost everyone else. [7] Physician advocates have a role to play in effecting change.

Canadian Doctors for Protection From Guns was formed in response to the summer 2018 Danforth shooting in Toronto  where two young people were killed, thirteen were wounded and an entire city horrified by the actions of a lone shooter who went on a rampage one warm summer night. Founded by Dr. Najma Ahmed, a Toronto trauma surgeon working at St. Michael’s Hospital who was called in to respond to the tragedy that night, CDPFG is advocating for greater gun controls and an increase in research into the epidemiological causes and impacts of gun violence. They are planning a Day of Action for April 3.

Visit their website at: to read their position statement, access resources and to find out more about the Day of Action and an event near you.

The solution to gun violence is complex and lies beyond simple restriction and lies the intersecting realms of social policy, education and health. Research and policy from a public health perspective will help us find it.


Dr. Kathee Andrews MD MCFP NCMP
National President
Co-Chair, Gender-Based Violence Committee
Federation of Medical Women of Canada



Dr. Anne Niec
Co-Chair, Gender-Based Violence Committee
Federation of Medical Women of Canada





Dr. Nahid Azad, MD FRCPC CCPE
Chair, Women, Peace and Security Committee
Federation of Medical Women of Canada







[1] Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Firearm-Related Violent Crime, 2009-2017.

[2] Robison Fletcher. CBC Report on Gun Violence in Canada, August 30, 2018.

[3] Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, #CallItFemicide: Understanding Gender-Related Killings of Women and Girls in Canada, 2018.

[5] Canadian Pediatric Society. Position Statement. The Prevention of Firearm Injuries in Canadian Youth, Feb. 16, 2018.

[6] Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Clinical Practice Guidelines.

[7] Ekos Politics. Here’s a Simple Idea: Most Canadians Want a Strict Ban on Guns in Our Cities, December 4, 2017.