Members of Parliament are expected to vote today to send Bill C-19 to the Senate, which, if passed, ends the long-gun registry and destroys all long-gun data collected since the registry’s inception. Victims of gun violence and women’s safety experts are outraged at the possibility that Bill C-19, a bill which places the safety of all Canadians in jeopardy, may become law. Given the likely conclusion of today’s vote, the government is completely ignoring the recommendations of the majority of Canadians including victims of gun violence, women’s groups, suicide prevention experts, police and labour organizations.

Unlike previous iterations, C-19 goes far beyond simply ending the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns, including the powerful semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal massacre. It removes critical measures that have been in place since 1977 regarding the sale or transfer of firearms, with gun dealers no longer required to record information on the guns they sell or to whom, severely crippling the ability of police to trace firearms recovered in crime. It will also enable individuals to acquire an unlimited number of rifles or shotguns without someone having to verify they have a valid firearms licence.

Bill C-19 also mandates the immediate destruction of all the data on 7.1 million registered long guns despite the warnings by safety experts that it will create a terrible legal and moral precedent and that the destruction of data may be a further cost to taxpayers. This information has been a valuable tool to police in helping to bring criminals to justice, by supporting the prosecution of gun-related crime and providing almost 18,000 affidavits between 2003 and 2008. The Quebec government has pledged to turn to the courts to preserve the data should Bill C-19 become law and has received support from other provinces.

The Coalition for Gun Control will not end its fight to keep sensible gun control and will continue to oppose Bill C-19.

Quotes from outraged women’s safety experts and victims of gun violence:

Priscilla de Villiers, whose daughter Nina was abducted while jogging and killed with a legally owned non-restricted rifle in 1991: “At least six public inquests, at different times, in different places, have emphasized the need for comprehensive controls on all firearms to hold owners accountable and avoid the diversion of legal guns to the illegal market. Bill C-19 will turn back the clock 30 years. By not requiring that sales of non-restricted firearms be recorded and by deleting the data on 7.1 million registered guns, it will be nearly impossible for police to trace rifles and shotguns that are recovered from crime scenes. These proposals ignore the concerns of victims of gun violence who are mourning their dead or tending to their crippling injuries: this must never happen again. We must do all in our power to prevent this carnage, including supporting effective gun control.”

Pamela Harrison, Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia: “The divisiveness of the gun control issue is fuelled by misinformation. Because of their relatively easy availability, so-called “hunting guns” — non-restricted rifles and shotguns — are the firearms most often used in domestic violence to threaten and intimidate women and children. Threats made with these guns are not counted in the statistics, but the damage they do is very real. Scrapping the long-gun registry will save the RCMP less than $4 million per year but how much is it going to cost Canadians? The government has conservatively estimated the value of one lost human life at $5 million.”

Karen Vanscoy, a psychiatric nurse whose 14-year-old daughter Jasmine was shot and killed in St. Catharines using a stolen gun: “From the moment I learned that my daughter had died until now, I have been living with the devastating impact of gun violence. Nurses are on the front lines of dealing with gun violence in all its forms. I deal on a regular basis with people who are suicidal and I understand the importance of having controls in place to reduce suicide. Studies have shown that there have been 250 fewer suicides annually since the implementation of Canada’s gun control laws. The proposed weakening to the licensing requirements will make it easier for suicidal people to acquire firearms. It is incomprehensible that on the same day MPs will vote for the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act, they will be voting to end the long-gun registry.”

Paulette Senior, CEO, YWCA Canada: “YWCA Canada and YWCA Yellowknife told the parliamentary committee that Bill C-19 removes effective and tangible means to protect women facing violence. Service providers working to end violence against women unanimously oppose ending the long-gun registry. Our shelter workers, including those working in rural and northern communities, tell us that registering firearms helps police enforce prohibition orders and to remove guns when needed. Verifying the validity of licences is key to women’s safety. The 1998 coroner’s inquest into the killing of Arlene May, shot by her former partner with a rifle, identified not checking licences for validity at gun stores as a major flaw in the previous system.”

Elaine Lumley, whose 20-year-old son Aidan was shot and killed while visiting Montreal: “Those of us who have suffered want to prevent others from experiencing what we have experienced and make it harder, not easier, for dangerous people to get access to guns. Even the government-appointed Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has made its position clear, stating that we must do all we can to prevent further tragedies from happening and that includes supporting the tools we have to help keep communities safe.”

Alexa Conradi, President of the Quebec Women Federation: “The safety of women must take precedence over a small “bureaucratic hassle.” Guns are registered one time and the owner does not pay a fee. The decision by the government to delete the existing data can only be described as a punitive measure that has little to do with privacy and much to do with ideology. Taxpayers have invested significantly and provinces should be allowed to preserve the data in their efforts to protect their constituents.”