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My Son's Killer Should Never Have Been Allowed To Own A Gun

Thierry's death must not be for nothing, contrary to what the coroner's report implies.

10/17/2017 13:56 EDT | Updated 10/17/2017 13:59 EDT
Courtesy Michel LeRoux
Lac-Simon police officer Thierry LeRoux, who was shot and killed on Feb. 13, 2016.

On Sept. 23, I finally received the coroner's report on our son Thierry's murder, which occurred on Feb. 13, 2016, scarcely six months after he joined the Lac-Simon police force. Thierry faced an armed and intoxicated young man with a history of suicidal behaviour who had had his guns removed but, for reasons not investigated by the coroner, were later returned to him by Thierry himself on the orders of his superiors.

This tragic day has changed our lives forever. Heartache, pain and tears are now part of our daily lives. My spouse Christine is devastated and will never recover. My other son, Steffan, lost his brother, his best friend and the godfather of his own son Charles-Antoine, who lost his beloved uncle. Thierry's fiancée, Joannie, has lost the man of her life. For us all, life will never be the same. There is a gaping hole that will never be filled, like a devastating wound that will never heal.

Victims' relatives, just as citizens in general, rely on the authorities to investigate the causes and circumstances that lead to preventable deaths and to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar tragedies. In fact, the implementation of such recommendations is one of the few actions that can alleviate some of the suffering of victims' families, as it ensures that our losses are not in vain.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press
Joannie Vaillancourt, left, wife of Lac-Simon police officer Thierry LeRoux cries while his father Michel LeRoux stands at the end of the funeral service for police officer Thierry LeRoux Friday, February 26, 2016 in Saguenay, Que. LeRoux died tragically in a shooting in Lac-Simon, Que. on Feb. 13, 2016.

However, as was the case with other similar investigations, like the one following the murders of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alta. in 2005 and three others in Moncton, N.B. in 2014, the investigation into our son's death ignored the circumstances that enable unstable or ill-intentioned individuals to have access firearms, in addition to the fact that the assailants all had access to legal assault weapons. On the contrary, the coroner blamed Thierry's "excess of confidence" — and made not one single recommendation!

Having been disappointed and disillusioned after a 19-month-long wait for the coroner's report, I am now turning to our political leaders in the hope of seeing concrete measures adopted to help prevent others from losing their life under similar circumstances. Thierry's death must not be for nothing, contrary to what the coroner's report implies.

We need to prevent the possession of guns by people who have demonstrated behaviour that is suicidal, violent, threatening or associated with a mental illness, regardless of the nature of the illness. The authorities should never have allowed our son's killer to own weapons. Without guns, the situation would have been completely different, and both Thierry and the murderer would likely be alive today.

Courtesy Michel LeRoux
Lac-Simon police officer Thierry LeRoux had been ordered by a superior to return his killer's weapons to him.

It goes without saying that the more firearms are regulated, the less likely they are to be used for violent purposes. This is why I support the implementation of the Liberal Party's election promises in this regard, namely, better control of gun sales (mandatory verification of a buyer's permit, sales ledgers), better controls on the transportation of handguns, and full discretion for provincial Chief Firearms Officers to attach additional safety conditions to the various licenses (private ownership, gun stores, gun shows, target shooting clubs, etc.).

I especially support the government's intention to address the problem of the accessibility of military-style weapons. It is utterly absurd for a society that is based on peace, order and good governance to allow ordinary citizens to own weapons of war whose destructive power surpasses that of police equipment.

We have always been proud of Thierry's choice of profession, and have supported him throughout his career. To see him in uniform was and will always be a great source of inspiration for us, because it openly displayed his dedication to protect the public.

Police officers like our son Thierry risk their lives every day. In fact, between 1961 and 2009, 92 per cent of police officers who died in the line of duty were shot. In light of this, nothing can justify the lack of strong and reasonable gun control.

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