02/11/2019 17:42 EST | Updated 02/11/2019 17:42 EST

Canadian Doctors' Group Urges Stricter Gun Laws

Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns look at gun violence from public health perspective.

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Toronto Police investigate the scene of a deadly shooting in Toronto's Danforth neighbourhood on July 23, 2018.

TORONTO — A group of doctors has launched a new organization to fight for stronger gun laws in Canada, arguing that gun violence is devastating their patients and communities.

Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns says gun violence should be treated as a public health issue in much the same way as road safety and smoking.

The advocacy group is made up of family doctors, emergency room physicians, trauma surgeons and psychiatrists.

They are advocating for a ban on handguns and assault weapons, saying gun violence is a public health crisis that must be addressed.

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The group notes Statistics Canada reports a 42 per cent increase in firearm-related violent crime since 2013.

It says it will work with governments, health and legal stakeholders and other Canadians to address the issue.

"We know the pro-gun lobby is going to try and muddy the issue," CDPG member Dr. Alan Drummond said in a press release. "But our expertise — and our professional responsibility — is in the protection of public health."

The group is set to appear before the Senate's standing committee on National Security and Defence studying Bill C-71, which includes changes to the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code, later this month.

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