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As the Desmond inquiry hears from its last witness, the judge hints at changes to come

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The Lionel Desmond inquiry heard from its closing witness Tuesday, closing greater than two years of proof gathering into what led an Afghanistan veteran to fatally shoot his household and himself in January 2017.

The focus will shift now to the suggestions the inquiry will make to stop future such tragedies.

Nova Scotia’s chief firearms officer, John Parkin, testified Tuesday earlier than the Port Hawkesbury, N.S., inquiry for the third time.

On this event, the inquiry drew upon his experience to decide what changes are wanted to ensure that individuals with ongoing psychological sickness or a historical past of home violence face further scrutiny when making use of for a firearms acquisition licence. 

Lionel Desmond twice had docs log out on medical paperwork that declared him neither a danger to himself or anybody else in holding a firearms licence; in the first case, he had been flagged for evaluate after a firearms officer realized from one among the Afghanistan veteran’s references that he hadn’t disclosed his 2011 post-traumatic stress dysfunction prognosis.

The second time, Desmond’s licence was suspended and a gun was seized by RCMP in Nova Scotia after the Afghanistan veteran threatened to commit suicide in November 2015. 

In early 2016, a health care provider who prescribed Desmond medical hashish for PTSD offered the medical paperwork a firearms officer would inform the inquiry that she nearly solely relied on in making her determination to reinstate the licence.

Shanna Desmond and her daughter had been amongst the 4 individuals killed in the dwelling in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. (Facebook)

While that evaluate was occurring, Desmond’s psychologist and psychiatrist had been in search of a spot for him at an in-patient psychiatric facility to strive to stabilize his power signs of PTSD, which included bother controlling his feelings.

On Jan. 3, 2017, roughly 5 months after his launch from Ste. Anne’s Hospital in Quebec, Desmond legally bought a Soviet-style semi-automatic rifle after which drove to his in-laws dwelling in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S.

There, he fatally shot his spouse, Shanna, his 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his mom, Brenda, earlier than turning the gun on himself. 

Lionel Desmond is proven right here on this household picture, together with his mom, Brenda, left, and daughter, Aaliyah, proper. (Submitted by Cassandra Desmond)

A health care provider’s duty

Following Parkin’s earlier testimony, Judge Warren Zimmer hinted closely at potential changes to firearms coverage and laws that he might advocate in his closing report — particularly, round making certain firearms officers can get entry to related medical historical past.

On Tuesday, he agreed with Parkin that it could be helpful to compel medical professionals who clear an applicant for a firearms licence to report if that affected person’s psychological well being later deteriorates.

“At the end of the day when you ask, what if they won’t?” Zimmer mentioned. “Well, if they won’t and it becomes a broad enough problem, then perhaps there needs to be a legislative change.”

He advised that he could be recommending these changes — a lot in the identical approach that many docs are compelled to report a public security danger when it comes to their affected person holding a driver’s licence. 

There are roughly 75,000 firearms licence holders in Nova Scotia, with 9 firearms employees to examine issues. Parkin mentioned that is one among the the explanation why sure individuals might fall by way of the cracks.

It’s additionally why the workplace depends on outdoors sources to increase pink flags: police reviews, medical professionals and relations or colleagues, he mentioned.

“I’m concerned with changes in the system that would help close those gaps so that things don’t slip through,” Zimmer responded.

The inquiry will meet once more on April 19 when legal professionals will submit their suggestions for the judge to contemplate in his closing report.

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