Open letter, May 6, 2011

In response to the recent election, we, the mothers of victims of gun violence, are calling on politicians to stand up for public safety. During the election it became clear that many candidates were ill-informed about how important the gun registry is as a tool for police.

We are concerned that abolishing the registry will be pushed through the House of Commons based on misinformation. Regardless of race, creed or colour, we need to work together on integrated solutions to curb violence. We need to stand together to defend gun control. The registry is consulted by police 14,000 times a day to remove guns from dangerous people, to take preventive action when there is risk of suicide or domestic violence, and to solve crimes. We know people who swear that they are alive today because of the firearms registry.

We are mothers who know the agony of losing a child. This Mother’s Day we are calling on Canadians to help us stand up for gun control and to tell all newly elected Members of Parliament that the gun lobby does not speak for us.

We know all too well that any gun in the hands of a dangerous person can be lethal. Most firearm-related deaths in Canada are caused by rifles or shotguns and the risk of gun violence is actually higher in rural communities where there are more guns. Our gun control law is the result of at least six public inquests into tragedies which have emphasized the importance of licensing gun owners and registering all firearms. These measures represent a small inconvenience for the privilege of owning a gun. Gun death and injury, particularly with rifles and shotguns, has declined dramatically since controls were strengthened.

The Conservatives have vowed to scrap the gun registry immediately. They are proposing to erase the data on nearly 7 million rifles and shotguns already registered. There will be no turning back if they are successful. This will be a terrible waste of the money that was spent in building the system. Once a gun has been registered it does not have to be re-registered ever again unless it is sold or given to someone. The cost of continuing to register rifles and shotguns is less than $4 million a year according to the RCMP. Eliminating the gun registry will save very little — but it will cost us a lot.

Every major public safety and victims group in the country, as well as the Conservative-appointed Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, has said that the registration of rifles and shotguns is essential. The latest poll showed that two-thirds of Canadians support the gun registry. In spite of their claims about “law and order” and “‘victims’ rights”, the Conservatives are focusing on appeasing the vocal gun lobby rather than dedicating themselves to public safety. Gun lobby groups are lobbying not just to dismantle the gun registry but to relax other controls on guns as well. 

Stand up for gun control. Please contact your Member of Parliament immediately.

Signed by:

Elaine Lumley, mother of Aidan, killed outside a bar while visiting Montreal in 2005. His murder was not solved. (Toronto, Ontario)

Karen Vanscoy, mother of Jasmine, killed in 1996 in St. Catharines by an acquaintance with a gun stored in an unlocked kitchen cabinet, which was originally stolen from a gun shop in Oshawa. (Hamilton, Ontario)

Suzanne Laplante-Edward, mother of Anne-Marie, killed at Ecole Polytechnique in December 1989. (Montreal, Quebec)

Louise Hevey, mother of Anastasia, killed at Dawson College in September 2006. (Montreal, Quebec)

Audette Shephard, mother of Justin, killed in Toronto in 2001. His murder was not solved. (Toronto, Ontario)