- CGC supports the Quebec Government's legal action to save gun registry data and calls on other provinces to do the same -
OTTAWA, April 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Senators are expected to vote today to pass Bill C-19 which ends the long-gun registry and destroys all long-gun data collected since the registry's inception. It also repeals measures in place since 1977 and severely compromises the rules around licence checks when buying firearms. The government clearly ignored the recommendations of the majority of Canadians including victims of gun violence, women's groups, suicide prevention experts, police and labour organizations, all of whom are in favour of sensible gun control including the long-gun registry. Yesterday, the Quebec Government announced that they had filed a legal challenge to stop the deletion of the data in the long-gun registry. The Coalition for Gun Control (CGC) supports their efforts to keep the records of the 7.1 million long guns already registered.
The CGC will not end its fight to keep sensible gun control measures. The CGC includes more than 300 organizations including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Public Health Association, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Canadian Pediatric Society, YWCA of Canada, Canadian Federation of University Women, Canadian Auto Workers, and Canadian Labour Congress.
In front of the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, public safety experts consistently requested the Bill be amended to, at the very least, introduce moderate amendments to reinstate the obligation that manufacturers and merchants keep records of sale and require mandatory licence checks when firearms are purchased. Their concerns on these issues were echoed by some of the government's own witnesses.
Wendy Cukier, President of the Coalition for Gun Control, said "Today's vote not only dismantles the gun registry but reverses measures which have been in place for 30 years. Some politicians have tried to divide the issue as rural vs urban but rates of gun death are higher in rural areas. Women and police officers are more likely to be killed with rifles and shotguns because they are the guns most often in homes. In rural areas, suicides with firearms are a major public health issue. Virtually all major safety groups in the country support the registry. The costs of keeping the gun registration of rifles and shotguns are modest - less than $4 million a year - while the costs of gun violence are immense."
Public safety experts who were invited to voice their concerns about Bill C-19 included the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, the Quebec Suicide Prevention Association and victims of gun violence. Women's safety experts and front line women's organizations were notably excluded of the marathon-style committee hearings, as well as experts on combatting illicit trafficking. Safety experts maintain that C-19 will seriously jeopardize public safety, as it will:
- Make verifying a firearms purchaser's licence voluntary, which increases the chance unlicensed individuals, including those under prohibition orders, will be sold rifles and shotguns.
- Eliminate recording of non-restricted gun sales which have been in place since 1977. Previous bills introduced since 2006 have restored the provision requiring dealers to record the model and serial number of all guns they sell, as well as the name and address of the purchaser. Bill C-19 does not.
- Erase data on 7.1 million rifles and shotguns currently registered despite the fact that the data could be useful as an investigative tool for firearm tracing purposes and is consistent with international treaties that require record-keeping to reduce illicit trafficking. Police associations have said that the data would be a useful investigative tool for firearm tracing purposes and destroying it will cripple the ability to trace any non-restricted guns to their last legal owners if they end up being used in crimes. This information has provided a valuable tool in helping bring criminals to justice, supporting the prosecution of gun-related crime and providing almost 18,000 affidavits between 2003 and 2008.
- Destroy a tool used to remove guns from dangerous people, enforce prohibition orders and take preventive action, and allow a licensed individual to acquire an unlimited number of guns without any flags being raised, including powerful semi-automatics such as the Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal Massacre and some sniper rifles.
While C-19 is close to passing, it is clear that the gun lobby sees it as a first step to dismantling gun control in Canada. In an opinion piece published on March 29, the Member of Parliament for Calgary West, Rob Anders, advocated for further weakening of gun control laws, particularly screening and licensing of gun owners and safe storage of firearms. This echoes the position of many members of Public Safety Minister Toews Firearms Advisory Committee, who have repeatedly said that Bill C-19 is just a first step and they look forward to working with the government to further weaken the licensing rules. Some are on the record advocating arming for self protection and the repeal of the handgun registry.
For further information:
Interviews can be arranged with victims and other members of the Coalition for Gun Control at [email protected] or 416-604-0209