A gunman opened fire on college property in the Canadian city of Montreal yesterday, killing one woman and injuring 19 people. The incident occurred at a campus of Dawson College, a pre-university study centre. Eyewitnesses described the gunman as a man in his twenties, wearing a black trench coat and sporting a Mohican-style haircut. According to reports, he began firing shots near a shopping centre before reaching the educational institute and opening fire on students there. His attire and the manner of the attack recalled the Columbine killing at a United States high school in Colorado in 1999. In that instance, the two shooters turned their weapons on themselves, but Canadian police fired on yesterday s perpetrator. Five of those injured by the gunman are in a critical condition. Montreal itself has been the site of two shootings at higher education institutes, at the Ä‚â€°cole Polytechnique de Montreal in 1989 and at the Concordia University three years later.
Significance: High-school shootings have become painfully commonplace in the United States but are a rare occurrence for its northerly neighbour. Canada s tight gun-control laws, similar to those in the United Kingdom, have previously been celebrated as a factor in the reduction of firearm offences. Automatic weapons are particularly difficult to access legally, although such a firearm was used in yesterday s rampage. Security risks are low in Canada, pegged at 1.00 by Global Insight, and the shooting is an isolated incident. Concerns remain over an apparent growing trend of students bringing offensive weapons onto school or university property. The incident inadvertently gives credence to conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper s claims that the gun register, which he is trying to eliminate, is costly and does not reduce the use of firearms or the proliferation of illegal weapons.