Victims and families impacted by a deadly shooting in Greektown this summer are calling on the federal government to impose a ban on the private ownership of handguns and military style assault rifles.

More than a dozen people who were affected by the July 22 mass shooting, including six victims, have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to implement the ban, calling it a matter of “public safety.”

In the letter, they acknowledge a ban “is not the only step that needs to be taken to stem gun violence,” but they say they are confident the measure would be “impactful” and could perhaps prevent tragedies like the one that occurred on the Danforth.

The July shooting rampage claimed the life of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon and injured 13 others, many of whom were just out enjoying a hot summer night in a popular east-end neighbourhood.

“In our case, a hand gun that was imported through legal channels, found its way to the perpetrator of our trauma and loss,” the letter states. “Why did this need to happen? Why would we let this continue when reasonable compromise is possible? Are we going to learn from our experience or are we going to express grief in the moment and move on? We are better than this as a nation.”

Friend of victim says push for handgun ban gives her hope

The signatories of the open letter all attended a press conference at the Danforth Music Hall on Friday morning to make their case for the ban.

One of them, Noor Samiei, was out eating ice cream and celebrating her 18th birthday with friends on the night of the shooting. Three of her friends ended up being shot and one of them, Fallon, didn’t survive

Samiei said that the push for a handgun ban is one of the things that is helping her “get through” the grief from the shooting as it provides some “hope” that the tragedy won’t be repeated.

“It is something that is really hard to accept,” she said of the shooting.

“You kind of go through life with this notion that everything will happen the way you want it to happen. Reese and I always talked about when we’re married, what our kids would be doing together, we never expected something like this to happen. It is really hard to understand that she is gone. I don’t think any of us will ever be able to fully move on from this and really accept it.”

Feds continue to study ban

The decision, by the victims and family members, to speak out comes as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair continues to conduct public consultations on a possible handgun ban.

At the press conference, Claire Smith, whose daughter Samantha Price was injured in the shooting, described July 22 as the “worst day” of her life but she said that it does present an opportunity to “be bold” and to take a stand.

“This should never have happened, not to these kids and not to these families and going forward I really want us to think long and hard about out attitudes towards these kinds of weapons,” she said. “We have over one million legally owned guns in Canada,that is up from 300,000 a few years ago. They are escalating and we are getting more of these types of guns and crimes happening.”

Ken Price, Samantha Price’s father, also spoke during the news conference.

He said that his daughter is now in her first year of university and is doing better but still lives with the aftermath of the Danforth massacre.

“She was a girl who grew up in the Beach and went to Rosedale for high school and would take the subway every day. I can tell you that experience is not as comfortable as it used to be,” he said.

Ken Price conceded that introducing a handgun ban won’t be easy but said that it his belief that there is just “too much risk” not to.

He said that the victims of the Danforth shooting “represent that risk.”

“We think that if public safety is the number one priority, we will find a way to do it,” he said.

In a statement provided to CP24 on Friday, a spokesperson for Blair said that he has met “with a range of experts and stakeholders from across Canada and solicited feedback from provinces, territories, municipalities, as well as Indigenous communities” as he continues to gauge support for a handgun ban.

The spokesperson said that Blair’s report is likely to be completed “soon” and will then be released to the public in the coming months.

Full Open Letter: