Don't Be Fooled: Conservative Bill Introduced to Senate Eliminating Long Gun Registration a Risk to Public Safety

    TORONTO, April 1 /CNW/ - Public safety is no joke warns the Coalition for
Gun Control, as Conservatives plans to introduce a Bill to the Senate were
leaked today. The Bill, recycled from 2006, if passed, will eliminate the
registration of unrestricted rifles and shotguns. Police, women's groups, gun
violence victims' advocates and the Coalition for Gun Control are urging
Senators not to weaken gun control and compromise public safety. The unusual
approach by the Conservatives follows a series of missteps and controversies
around a private member's bill, which also relaxed controls on handguns and
fully automatic assault weapons.
    "This is simply payback to the gun lobby. The system is working and
police use it almost 10,000 times a day," said Wendy Cukier, President of the
Coalition for Gun Control. Currently police can query a person or location to
see if guns are present, the number and type. When they recover a gun at the
scene of a crime they can search online. "The proposed system rolls back the
clock to the days when police recovered a gun and had to search store by store
to see where it was sold, the days when no records were kept of secondary
sales, the days when the numbers of murders with rifles and shotguns far
exceeded murders with handguns."
    The Supreme Court of Canada emphasized that registration of all firearms
is essential to enforcing the licensing provisions of the law. If a licensed
individual can purchase firearms without them easily being traced back to
them, there is little to prevent them from selling or giving the guns to
unlicensed individuals. Registration is about accountability. Owning a gun is
a big responsibility.
    The Firearms Act and specifically the gun registry is a vital tool for
Canadian police in maintaining public and police safety. A surprising number
of rifles and shotguns are recovered in crime even in major cities. Plagued by
an increase in gun violence, police in Surrey BC recently reported recovering
over 200 long guns. "All guns are potentially dangerous, all gun owners need
to be licensed, all guns need to be registered, and gun owners need to be
accountable for their firearms, said Steven Chabot, President, Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) in a letter written to Prime Minister
Harper and opposition leaders on behalf of the CACP urging them not to weaken
gun control. Chabot also wrote, "..ending the registration of long guns such
as rifles and shotguns (the weapons most often used in domestic homicides and
suicides) would seriously compromise a system that is working to the
betterment of personal, community and police officer safety."
    Police from across Canada use the firearms registry daily during
investigations and to take preventative action. For example, a registered long
gun found at the scene of a crime led to the manslaughter conviction of two
accomplices in the murder of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.
    Priscilla deVilliers, well known victims' rights activist reminds us:
"Six separate inquests have recommended licensing and registration of guns,
including the inquest into my daughter's death. It was too late for us but
what we learned from our tragedies could save the lives of other Canadians. We
fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to defend the law that was
forged in death and misery. And there is strong evidence that it is working."
The victims of gun violence want more than sympathetic tears and condolence.
They want action.
    "Sensible gun control does not demonize gun owners any more than having a
license to drive and registering a car demonizes car owners," said Wendy
Cukier, President and Founder of the Coalition for Gun Control. "Gun control
does not prevent firearm owners from hunting, target shooting or even
collecting guns, but it does ensure accountability. Illegal guns begin as
legal guns. Without knowing who owns what guns there can be no effective

    Facts and Figures on Gun Control In Canada:

    -  Gun control works. In 1991, 1441 Canadians were killed with guns; it
       has now reduced by nearly 50 per cent to less than 800 firearm deaths.

    -  Murders of women with guns have plummeted from 85 in 1991 to 32 in
       2004, in part because of gun control.

    -  Murders with rifles and shotguns have decreased dramatically, from 107
       in 1991 to 32 in 2007, in part because of the stronger controls on

    -  The RCMP estimate, that if the registration of rifles and shotguns
       were discontinued, it would save only $3 million per year. (RCMP
       Deputy Commissioner Peter Martin testimony to the Government
       Operations and Estimates Committee, November, 2006.)

    -  Gun registration is a one-time procedure and the current and future
       principal costs are for screening and licensing gun owners, NOT
       registering firearms.

    -  $1 billion over 10 years (1995-2005) was spent licensing 2 million gun
       owners and registering 7 million guns, according to the Auditor
       General - NOT $2 billion.

    -  If the Conservatives stopped waiving gun registering and licensing
       fees, taxpayers would save an estimated $20 million annually. (based
       on 2006 government refund figures).

    -  Since 1995, estimated annual costs are $64 million annually (RPP
       Canada Firearms Centre, "Planned Spending 2007-2008").

    -  According to the 2006 Small Arms Survey, the decrease in gun injuries
       and deaths since the gun registry's inception are worth nearly
       $1.4 billion annually.

    -  The powerful semi-automatic used in the murder of 14 young women at
       l'Ecole Polytechnique is still sold as an unrestricted "hunting"

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