Ottawa, October 25, 2011: The government introduced today in the House of Commons Bill C-19. Police, public health, women and victims of gun violence groups are outraged about Bill C-19 because, if passed, it will eliminate the registration of non-restricted firearms (rifles and shotguns).
In the upcoming days, the Coalition for Gun Control will look at the fine print of the bill, but it appears that the government is proposing an archaic roll back of the clock to the days when police recovered a gun and had to search store by store to see where the firearm was sold.
The Coalition for Gun Control is urging Canadians to tell their Member of Parliament to stand up for safety and stop the bill at second reading.
Quotes from outraged police, public health and women’s safety experts and victims of gun violence:
Denis Côté, President of the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec (FPMQ): “Rifles and shotguns make up a substantial proportion of the guns recovered in crime in this country. They are the guns most often used to kill police officers, in domestic violence situations and in suicides, particularly those involving youth. Licensing screens gun owners for risk factors; one time registration holds them accountable for their guns. Taken together they reduce the risks dangerous people will have access to firearms. The police need the long-gun registry. It helps officers in their investigations because the registry allows them to trace the owners of firearms used to commit criminal offenses. Without the long-gun registry, the government must reestablish the requirement that merchants keep records of gun purchasers, and the same requirement must be imposed upon gun owners who give, transfer or sell their firearms. If the gun registry is not maintained at the national level, data must be transferred to the provinces, and this, in the interest of safety for all Canadians!”
Priscilla de Villiers, well-known gun violence activist whose daughter Nina was abducted while jogging in Burlington, Ontario, and killed with a legally owned unrestricted rifle in 1991: “The costs of maintaining the registry are modest — less than $4 million a year — while the risks of eliminating the registry are enormous. Six separate inquests into tragedies have recommended the licensing of owners and registration of guns, including the inquest into my daughter’s death. Would a gun registry have saved my daughter or so many countless others across this country? We don’t know. No law can prevent all tragedies. But a gun control law which includes registration and is rigorously implemented makes it harder — not easier — for dangerous people to get firearms.”
Barbara Byers, Executive-Vice President, Canadian Labour Congress, said: “Canada’s unions stand behind the registry as an important tool to keep workplaces and communities safe. Rifles and shotguns are the firearms that have figured prominently in workplace violence involving guns. The public inquest into the OC Transpo shooting in Ottawa recommended specifically the licensing of gun owners and registration of firearms. We stand with the police officers, first responders and other frontline workers across this country who say it is an important tool and a health and safety issue. Registering firearms does not demonize gun owners any more than registering a car demonizes car owners.”
Dr. Alan Drummond from the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians and an assistant coroner in Perth, Ontario, said: “It is regrettable that we, as a nation, are about to embark on an unwelcome social experiment. The Conservative government has been very clear that they intend to finally abolish the gun registry. This is regrettable in so far as it is clear to Canada’s emergency physicians that the gun registry has, in fact, worked and the number of deaths from inappropriate firearms use has dropped dramatically since the institution of the Firearms Act. The government has consistently portrayed this act as a victimization of rural long gun owners, conveniently ignoring the clear scientific evidence that rural suicides with long guns are the principal issue in the tragic toll of Canadian firearms deaths. So we will now all be unwilling participants in a social experiment that will undoubtedly place Canadian lives at risk. Our question to our government is that relative to the perceived inconvenience and cost of registration, what will be the true cost, in direct human suffering, of their ideologically driven and scientifically bankrupt legislation. Canada’s emergency physicians remain steadfastly supportive of the principles of the Firearms Act and the gun registry.”
Paulette Senior, CEO, YWCA Canada: “Violence against women is a $4 billion problem in this country. Every year, 100,000 women and children leave their homes fleeing violence and abuse. Long guns and rifles are used to intimidate women and the threat of a rifle is often a significant reason that women don’t risk leaving to seek help. YWCA Canada supports the long-gun registry as a public safety tool as there is clear evidence that it helps make women and children’s lives safer. Our shelters tell us it is both useful and needed. Our rural shelters tell us police consult it every time they go to a domestic violence incident. These are deliberate and specific searches for the presence of firearms in the home. In 2009, approximately 7,000 registration certificates were revoked for public safety concerns. Dismantling the registry is not in the interests of women living at risk of domestic violence.”
Currently, licensed gun owners must have the guns they own registered, one time only. Registration fees have been waived. Over 7 million non-restricted rifles and shotguns have been registered. Most industrialized countries register all firearms. A number of studies have examined the effects of the Firearms Act on gun death and injury rates and concluded significant reductions, for example the Institut de santé publique du Québec has associated the law to a decrease of 250 fewer suicides and 50 fewer homicides annually.
The long-gun registry:
• Helps ensure that gun owners are accountable for their firearms. If gun owners are licensed but there is no record of the guns they own, they can give or sell guns to unlicensed owners without consequences.
• Is an essential tool used by police when taking preventive action, and enforcing prohibition orders. It is used to ensure that all firearms are removed from an individual’s possession when the situation warrants it.
• Assist police investigations. When police recover a gun at the scene of a crime, they can trace it to its rightful owner. Two men were identified and convicted as accessories to the murder of 4 RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, in part because a registered gun was left at the scene of the crime.
• Allows police to differentiate between legal and illegal firearms. Without information about who owns firearms legally and the firearms they own, police cannot charge individuals with illegal possession.
• Allows police to trace firearms easily, thus facilitating further investigations into illicit trafficking.
• Reduces the chances that legal guns will be diverted into illegal markets.