Election 2011 - Victims of Gun Violence and Domestic Violence Experts Ask Canadians to Remember the Costs of Gun Violence During This Election

TORONTO, April 28 /CNW/ - Amid all of the political wrangling during the current federal election, the voices of the victims of gun violence have been forgotten. A Canadian group of victims of gun violence and domestic violence experts today held a news conference in Toronto to remind Canadians as they vote on May 2, to consider the costs of gun violence and to remember that controls on all guns are critical to public safety.

During this campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Leader of the Conservative Party has said that he requires a majority government to carry through with his plan to dismantle the firearms registry, a system that police and violence prevention specialists say is critical to keeping Canadians safe. The gun lobby is also actively helping Conservative candidates by using NRA-inspired campaigns to target MPs who support the registry, particularly in rural ridings.

Victims of gun violence and domestic violence want Canadians to hear and know the facts, which show that:

  • Risks of gun violence are actually higher in rural communities. Where there are more guns, there are higher rates of gun death and injury;
  • The vocal gun lobby does not speak for most rural residents. A poll by Leger Marketing showed that while more gun owners were more likely to oppose the registry (59%) than support it (36%); people living with gun owners were more likely to support the registry (47%) than oppose it (36%). (December 2009, margin of error ± 2,53%, 19 times out of 20) Many politicians appear to have forgotten that women vote too.

Participants at today's news conference also urged Canadians to ask their local candidates if he or she will protect gun controls and stand up for the safety of all Canadians. Speakers included: Louise Russo who is disabled after being caught in the cross fire in a Toronto shooting. The gun used was stolen from a collector; Audette Shephard, founding member of United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere whose son Justin was killed in 2001 in Toronto; Priscilla de Villiers, whose daughter Nina was abducted from a Burlington tennis court and killed with a legally owned unrestricted rifle in 1991. The inquest into the killing recommended licensing all gun owners and registering all guns; Elaine Lumley whose son Aidan was killed outside of a bar in Montreal in 2005. The killer and the handgun were never found; Paulette Senior, CEO, YWCA Canada, the nation's largest single provider of shelter to women and children fleeing violence; Nicole Pietsch, Coordinator, Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and Wendy Cukier President and Co-founder, Coalition for Gun Control.

Quotes:

"Some politicians have tried to divide the issue as rural versus urban. In fact, gun violence, whether criminal, suicide, accident or intimidation knows no boundaries. Much of the opposition to the registry is ideological and grounded in misinformation. Many of the claims made about the registry by its opponents are demonstrably untrue. This is a question of who do you believe? The police, public safety and health care groups? Or, the gun lobby and its allies? This is about what we value as Canadians. The costs of keeping the registration of rifles and shotguns are modest - less than $4 million a year - while the costs of gun violence is immense. At the end of the day we know for sure, the firearms registry never killed anyone. While getting rid of it might."

Wendy Cukier, President and Co-founder, Coalition for Gun Control

"Violence against women is a $4 billion problem in this country. Every year, 100,000 women and children leave their homes fleeing violence and abuse. Almost 20,000 of those come through the doors of the YWCA shelters. YWCA supports the long gun registry as a public safety tool that makes women's lives safer. Our shelters tell us the long gun registry is both useful and needed. Our rural shelters tell us police consult the long gun registry every time they go to a domestic violence incident. These are not automatic checks, but deliberate and specific searches for the presence of firearms in the home, especially long guns. In 2009, approximately 7,000 registration certificates were revoked for public safety concerns."

Paulette Senior, CEO, YWCA Canada

"Guns are used to intimidate women and the threat of the use of firearms towards women is often a significant reason that women do not risk fleeing or seeking help. Guns are also often more accessible in rural communities, which increases a woman's vulnerability to firearm violence in these communities. The purpose of the long gun registry is to improve accountability to gun owners, and reduce firearms-related crime. The proposal to scrap the registry will threaten women's rights to life, liberty, and security. Dismantling the registry is also discounting the specific safety concerns of Ontario women and their disproportionate vulnerability to firearm violence in the context of domestic violence."

Nicole Pietsch, Coordinator, Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
The Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) includes 23 of Ontario's sexual assault centres and works toward the prevention and eradication of sexual assault.

"The inquest into the suicide of my daughter's murderer recommended licensing all gun owners and the registration of all guns. For almost twenty years, I have been fighting for this law. Every group concerned about crime prevention and public safety supports the registry including the Conservative-appointed Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime."

Priscilla de Villiers, Mother of Nina

"Instead of focusing on the costs of gun control, politicians should focus on the costs of gun violence and the price paid by victims. I am unable to care for my severely disabled daughter. I am also very worried about the impact on my younger daughter who witnessed my shooting. It has affected her profoundly."

Louise Russo, shot with a stolen semi-automatic rifle in April 2004

"I grew up in northern Ontario. I know that all guns, handguns, rifles, shotguns, are potentially dangerous. We want to make it harder, not easier, for dangerous people to get access to guns. Canadians must stand up for the firearms registry."

Elaine Lumley, Mother of Aidan

"We have no choice when it comes to registering vehicles which are not designed to be killing machines. So why wouldn't you want to register your guns which are potentially dangerous and designed for the sole purpose to kill? This is not a political game, people's lives are at stake here."

Audette Shephard, Mother of Justin

SOURCE COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL

For further information:

Lisa, lisa@responsiblecommunications.ca, 416-949-3988 or Kathleen, Kathleen@responsiblecommunications.ca 416-803-5597

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COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2011

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