Warn Victims Groups and Public Safety Experts
TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2011 /CNW/ - Victims of gun violence and public safety
experts gathered today at a women's shelter in Toronto to warn the
federal government and the public that Bill C-19 to end the long gun
registry will seriously jeopardize public safety. Despite efforts by
the opposition to introduce amendments to minimize the negative impact
on public safety caused by government Bill C-19, the
Conservative-dominated Standing Committee on Public Safety and National
Security (SECU) is ignoring the pleas of police, victims groups and
public safety experts, and recommending that the House of Commons
proceed with the Bill unchanged. The third reading vote to send the
proposed legislation on to the Senate could be scheduled within days.
Unlike previous iterations, C-19 goes far beyond simply ending the
registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns, including the
powerful semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal massacre on
December 6, 1989. It removes critical measures that have been in place
since 1977 regarding the sale or transfer of firearms, which will
enable individuals to acquire an unlimited number of rifles or shotguns
without someone having to verify they have valid firearms licences. It
also entails the immediate destruction of all the data on over seven
million existing registered long guns and will no longer require gun
dealers to report or record who they are selling new ones to, which
will severely cripple the police's ability to trace guns recovered in
Ann Decter, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, YWCA Canada: MPs are playing dangerous politics with women's lives. YWCA Canada and
the YWCA Yellowknife told the Standing Committee last week that there
is unanimous support for the long-gun registry among service providers
working in violence against women. Rifles and shotguns remain the most
prevalent types of firearms in Canada by far, and as such, are the
firearms most often used in domestic violence to threaten and
intimidate women and children. The 1998 coroner's inquest into the
killing of Arlene May, who was shot and killed in Collingwood by her
former partner with a rifle, found that a major flaw in the previous
system was that licenses were not checked for validity at gun stores.
Our shelter workers, including those working in our rural shelters,
tell us that verifying the validity of licences and registering all
firearms helps police enforce prohibition orders and remove guns from
dangerous people, thereby enhancing the safety of women and children
living with violence.
Dr Katherine Austin Leonard, MD, FRCP(C), FAAP Representative of the
Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Association for Adolescent
Health, Paediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist: The Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Association for
Adolescent Health strongly believe that the passage of Bill C-19 and
the dismantling of the long gun registry would be a national tragedy
that would undo years of progress in reducing mortality from firearms.
Particularly important to paediatricians: adolescent firearm suicides
have declined and the rate of intimate partner homicides is the lowest
it has been in 40 years. As physicians, we recognize that preventive
and public health measures are as important, and more cost-effective
than medical treatments. The long-gun registry is a preventive measure
that protects some of society's most vulnerable citizens: our youth.
Karen Vanscoy, a psychiatric nurse whose 14 year old daughter Jasmine
was shot and killed by an acquaintance in St. Catharines using a stolen
gun: Nurses are on the front line of dealing with gun violence in all its
forms. I deal on a regular basis with people who are suicidal and I
understand the importance of having controls in place to reduce
suicide. The proposed weakening to the licencing scheme will make it
easier for suicidal people to acquire firearms. It is incomprehensible
that the same MPs who voted for the National Strategy for Suicide
Prevention on October 4, will allow this measure to pass. It's clear
that the opponents of the law will never be satisfied until gun control
is dismantled. We need political leaders who are prepared to tackle the
myths head on and state the simple facts: gun control works. It is a
good investment and it reduces the chances dangerous people will get
guns by holding gun owners accountable.
Michael Bryant, lawyer and former Attorney General of Ontario: The Harper Government bill goes way, way beyond the gun registry.
Incredibly, it destroys evidence that could be used in a criminal
proceeding, and, according to Canada's Privacy Commissioner, violates a
host of other laws and regulations.
Elaine Lumley, Mother of Aidan: Last Sunday marked the 6th anniversary of my son Aidan's tragic death. The government's proposals
are not addressing the concerns of victims of violence who want to make
it harder, not easier, for dangerous people to get access to guns. Even
the government-appointed Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has made its
position clear, stating that we must do all we can to prevent further
tragedies from happening and that is including supporting the tools we
have to help keep communities safe, like the long-gun registry.
Politicians must put the priority on public safety when they cast their
Sarah Blackstock, Director of Advocacy & Communications, YWCA Toronto: Weakening gun control will undermine women's safety. The Province of
Quebec has been vocal about its opposition to the Bill and is working
hard to stop the Bill. If the Bill does pass, Quebec has vowed to fight
the destruction of any of the data and even to create its own registry
if necessary. In contrast, Ontario has made little effort to stand up
for women or for public safety. Although the Bill will force Ontario
to destroy records on the 2.1 million guns in this province, the
government of Ontario has failed to act with the boldness and
decisiveness that Ontarians deserve.
The long-gun registry:
Helps ensure that gun owners are accountable for their firearms. If gun
owners are licenced but there is no record of the guns they own, they
can give or sell guns to unlicenced owners without consequences.
Assists police investigations. When police recover a gun at the scene of
a crime, they can trace it to its rightful owner. For example, two men
were identified and convicted as accessories to the murder of four RCMP
officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, in part because a registered gun was
left at the scene of the crime.
Allows police to differentiate between legal and illegal firearms.
Without information about who owns firearms legally and the specific
types of firearms they own, police cannot charge individuals with
Allows police to trace firearms easily, thus facilitating further
investigations into illicit trafficking.
Reduces the chances that legal guns will be diverted into illegal
Is an essential tool used by police when taking preventive action, and
enforcing prohibition orders. It is used to ensure that all firearms
are removed from an individual's possession when the situation warrants
it, such as in crisis situations, or after a person has been charged
with a crime.
The Coalition for Gun Control, founded in the wake of the 1989 Montreal
Massacre, is an alliance of more than 300 organizations including the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Public Health
Association, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the
Canadian Paediatric Society, the YWCA of Canada, the Canadian
Federation of University Women, the Canadian Auto Workers, the Canadian
Labour Congress, and numerous other organizations and community groups
across the country. The alumni and families of the victims of the
Montreal Massacre along with other victims of gun violence also played
a pivotal role.
SOURCE COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL
For further information:
Coalition for Gun Control: 416-604-0209, firstname.lastname@example.org
A copy of the Coalition for Gun Control's brief on C-19 is available at www.guncontrol.ca