OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - After testifying before the SECU
Parliamentary committee against Bill C-19, outraged safety experts
insist that dismantling the registration of rifles and shotguns and
destroying the data on 7.1 million guns will compromise public safety
and undermine police investigations. They challenge the myths promoted
by the Conservatives in defending their decision to dismantle the
registry. They also urge the public to consider the fine print of the
proposed law which will not just dismantle provisions introduced in
1995 but will turn back the clock more than thirty years.
Bill C-19 goes far beyond simply ending the registration of unrestricted
rifles and shotguns (including the semi-automatic Ruger mini 14 used in
the Montreal massacre). It removes critical measures that have been in
place since 1977. Bill C-19:
Makes verifying a firearms purchaser's licence voluntary, which
increases the chances unlicensed individuals will be sold rifles and
Erases data on 7.1 million rifles and shotguns currently registered,
despite the fact that the data could be useful as an investigative tool
for police officers for firearm tracing purpose. Several international
treaties require that countries maintain firearm sales records for the
purpose of tracing.
Omits provisions to reinstate the requirement that businesses keep
records of sales. This has been a requirement since 1977, and was
removed when the Firearms Act passed in 1995 as the information would be in the registry. Without
this information there is no way for police to investigate the source
of rifles and shotguns recovered from crime scenes or seized from
Destroys a tool widely used by police officers to remove guns from
dangerous or suicidal people, enforce prohibition orders, take
preventative action and investigate crime.
Denis Côté, President of the Fédération des policiers et policières
municipaux du Québec (FPMQ):
"Why carry out the destruction of the data? After the physical evidence
of the weapon, the data is often the starting point for an
investigation and identify important witnesses if a suspect."
Currently, licensed gun owners must have the guns they own registered,
one time only. Registration fees have been waived. Over 7 million
non-restricted rifles and shotguns have been registered. Most
industrialized countries register all firearms. A number of studies
have examined the effects of the Firearms Act on gun death and injury
rates and concluded significant reductions. For example, the Institut
de santé publique du Québec has associated the law to a decrease of 250
fewer suicides and 50 fewer homicides annually1.
Yves Francoeur, President of the Montreal Police Brotherhood added: "On the island of Montreal alone, there are about 75,000 weapons, 60,000
are long-guns. You cannot seriously claim that losing track of 60,000
weapons has no impact on public safety."
Dr. Barbara Kane, Rural B.C. Psychiatrist: "Contrary to the mythology, gun deaths and
injury are higher in rural Canada where there are more firearms. As a
rural psychiatrist working in Prince George, I have used the registry
on numerous occasions in situations where people were suicidal or
mentally ill or unstable. I would not want to minimize the impact of
any type of suicide but finding someone you love with half their face
shot off is devastating. Ironically, rural areas where there is the
most vocal opposition to gun control are also the areas with the
highest rates of suicides, homicides and accidental injuries with
firearms. Polls have shown that women in rural areas, and particularly
women living with gun owners, are in the majority in supporting gun
control and the registry. Rates of suicide and domestic violence in
rural Canada are much higher than in urban centres. With stronger
controls on firearms we have seen these rates decline. In my
professional practice, I have personally seen many cases where the
registry has been used to remove guns from individuals who might
present a risk to themselves or others. While it is hard to definitely
"prove" in a specific case that a life was saved we do know for certain
that the registry has contributed to a decline in suicide, particularly
in rural areas. The registry makes people accountable for their guns
and helps people like me and the police prevent gun death. It is a
vital tool we need to preserve."
Wendy Cukier, President of the Coalition for Gun Control: "Much of the opposition to the registry is ideological and grounded in
misinformation. More than 7 million firearms are already registered.
The costs of maintaining the system are modest: less than $4 million a
year, while the cost of gun violence is immense. This law goes far
beyond previous efforts to end the registration of firearms. It
eliminates provisions to track gun sales that were put in place in
1977. Now that the money has been spent, destroying the data makes no
sense whatsoever, and is simply punitive. Rates of firearm death and
injury have significantly declined with stronger controls on gun
control and the registry is an essential part of the mix. We can debate
statistics all you want but at the end of the day we know for sure, the
firearms registry never killed anyone. While getting rid of it might."
The long-gun registry:
Helps ensure that gun owners are accountable for their firearms. If gun
owners are licensed but there is no record of the guns they own, they
can give or sell guns to unlicensed owners without consequences.
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
Assist police investigations. When police recover a gun at the scene of
a crime, they can trace it to its rightful owner. Two men were
identified and convicted as accessories to the murder of 4 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 firearms
they own, police cannot charge individuals with illegal possession.
Allows police to trace firearms easily, thus facilitating further
investigations into illicit trafficking.
Reduces the chances that legal guns will be diverted into illegal
The Coalition for Gun Control, founded in the wake of the Montreal
massacre, is an alliance of more than 300 organizations including the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Public Health
Association, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Canadian
Paediatric Society, the YWCA of Canada, the Canadian Federation of
University Women, Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Labour Congress as
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 played a pivotal role.
1 Lavoie, Michel, Pilote, Ruth, Maurice, Pierre, Blais, Étienne. (2010)
Brief Submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security Concerning Bill C-391, the Act to amend
the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act. Québec: Institut national de
santé publique. http://www.inspq.qc.ca/pdf/publications/1090_MemoireProjetLoiC391ArmesFeu_VA.pdf
SOURCE COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL
For further information:
Coalition for Gun Control: 514-528-2360, firstname.lastname@example.org
A copy of the Coalition for Gun Control's brief is available at www.guncontrol.ca