TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - Following today's ruling by Superior Court of Justice of Ontario Judge D. M. Brown that failed to grant an emergency injunction to prevent the federal government from going forward with its plans for the imminent destruction of the registry data, the Coalition for Gun Control reacted:
"This decision is a setback but we will continue to fight for sensible controls on rifles and shotguns. Information about who owns what guns is essential to reducing the diversion of guns to illegal markets and the registry data has been shown to be useful in solving crimes. Destroying the data that has already been collected on 7.1 million guns makes no sense whatsoever, and is simply punitive. Quebec stood up to the gun lobby and, as a result, is still able to trace firearms. Outside of Quebec, rifles and shotguns are now completely untraceable. These guns are those most often used in domestic violence and when police officers are shot on duty. They also account for a significant proportion of the firearms recovered in crime. Police associations have testified that the data on firearms is part of the evidentiary trail in many cases and losing it will add significant costs to their investigations. We are very grateful to the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and the City of Toronto for taking on this fight when the Province of Ontario refused to act," said Wendy Cukier, President.
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic that serves abused women filed a challenge based on the violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms' provisions of life, liberty and security for women and on the violation of women's equality rights. They requested an injunction to prevent the deletion of the data while the case is in trial. The City of Toronto, Canada's largest urban centre, has intervened in support of the request and the City of Mississauga has also offered its backing through a unanimous motion.
This decision is made more difficult to accept as the ruling specifically mentioned Ontario's inaction (162). If the province had stepped up to defend its data and the public safety of Ontarians, the outcome today would be different. While the Province of Ontario claims it supported the registration of firearms, it has refused to take action to challenge the federal government's law or to preserve Ontario's registry data, leaving it to a small women's clinic with limited resources to take on the fight. Ontario public safety experts, victims of gun violence and municipalities have called for the data to be saved in the interest of public safety. There are 2.1 million non-restricted firearms registered to Ontarians. In response to an intervention by the Government of Quebec, the Quebec Superior Court granted the province the rights to its data on September 10.
Last spring, the federal government swiftly passed legislation ending the registration of rifles and shotguns — allowing a licensed individual to buy as many guns as they want, without any record being kept or a requirement to verify the validity of a licence before a sale. The law applies to all non-restricted rifles and shotguns, including powerful semi-automatics such as the Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal Massacre. In spite of pleas by police, the law calls for the destruction of all existing records on the ownership of 7.1 million rifles and shotguns. This eliminates the possibility that stolen guns or guns recovered in crime be traced back to their owners and undermines Canada's ability to combat the illegal gun trade.
The government further weakened controls by quietly passing regulations in July forbidding provinces from requiring gun dealers to maintain records of their sales of rifles and shotguns, undoing a measure in place since 1977. Canada is no longer in compliance with international agreements targeting the illegal trade in firearms. These measures have no rationale other than responding to a gun lobby advocating for a US-style "right" to own guns and keep it a secret, with few controls or responsibilities. The gun lobby has made it clear that these changes are only a first step.
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, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Ontario Public Health Association, Toronto Public Health, YWCA Toronto, METRAC, YWCA of Canada, Canadian Labour Congress, municipalities, and numerous other organizations and community groups across the country as well as victims of gun violence.
SOURCE: COALITION FOR GUN CONTROL
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