Tragedy sparks calls for handgun ban

[attach]5971[/attach]It didn’t take the recent shooting at the Eaton Centre to remind Alan Dudeck of the horrors of gun violence.

He and his family live it every day.

Four years ago, Dudeck’s stepson Oliver Martin, 25, and friend Dylan Ellis, 26, were shot to death while sitting in a parked SUV downtown. The pair, who grew up together, had spent the evening watching basketball at a friend’s apartment.

On June 13, in memory of his beloved stepson, Dudeck will head to Queen’s Park to call on all levels of government to support a ban on personal handguns.

“If we can eradicate the use of any number of handguns we’re ahead of the game — that tragedy just reinforced it all over again,” Dudeck said of the June 2 shooting at the Eaton Centre that left two dead and several injured.

At Queen’s Park, Dudeck will join councillors Adam Vaughan and Kristyn Wong-Tam, who are set to deliver a council motion asking the federal government to retain long-gun registry data rather than destroy it as planned. They are calling on the province to get on board.

In addition, Wong-Tam says she and other councillors are looking to renew a call for a national handgun ban and want to meet with Toronto MPs to gauge their level of support.

“Right now, the public, especially in our distressed neighbourhoods, are not feeling safe and we need to do what we can to reduce and eliminate handguns in our streets,” she says.

The bullets that struck Martin and Ellis cut short two bright futures. The pair, who attended Brown Public School together as kids and remained friends, were by all accounts upstanding young men with a close-knit circle of friends and family.

Four years later, the murders remain a mystery with no arrest and no clear motive.

Police say it remains an active investigation and they are looking to those who may have more information on the murders.

“If you have not spoken to police, come forward immediately,” said Constable Tony Vella.

Dudeck says his family, including wife Susan and Martin’s three sisters, has been left to cope with an indelible mark of pain.

“We miss him every day but we try and put one foot ahead of us and get enough positive distractions so we can carry on,” Dudeck said.

Since Martin’s death, the family has made several public pleas to ban handguns. It’s only when another tragedy strikes, says Dudeck, that the public is reminded of the dangerous consequence of gun possession.

“There’s no valid reason for anyone to have a handgun, as far as we’re concerned.”

A memorial will be held the evening of June 13 at Ramsden Park to mark the four years since they lost Martin and Ellis.

Loved ones will come to the park, Dudeck says, “just to hang together and remember the boys.”