Opinion Letters

Gun Control Continued

JoAnne Brooks

Dear Editor:

As you know, this December 6 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County has more information to share with readers on gun control legislation.

Almost twenty years have passed since a man with a legally owned assault rifle killed 14 young women and injured 27 in just 22 minutes. That gun, the Ruger Mini 14, is still sold today as a regular hunting rifle. That gun, along with seven million other rifles and shotguns, will soon be unregistered if Private Member's Bill C-391 that passed second reading on November 4 is not defeated. The bill will now be sent to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to be debated.

Prime Minister Harper claims that "duck guns" like the Ruger Mini 14 have nothing to do with gun crime, but women and children are more likely to be killed or threatened with "duck guns" than handguns, as they are the firearms most often found in the home.

· Most women killed with guns are killed with legally owned guns. Eighty-eight percent of Canadian women killed with guns are killed with a shotgun or rifle, the very guns that supporters of Bill C-391 say are not part of the problem of gun violence.

· Access to firearms is the fifth highest risk factor that predicts whether a woman will die in domestic violence situations.

· The latest Statistics Canada data shows that over the past decade, since the Firearms Act was first introduced, the rate of firearm related spousal homicide has decreased three-fold. However, that still leaves too many women to fall victim to gun violence in the home.

· Six different coroner's inquests recommended the licensing of gun owners and registration of all firearms.

· In spite of perceptions that guns are urban problems, where there are more guns, there is more opposition to gun control but there are also higher rates of firearm death and injury. For example Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta all have higher gun ownership as well as firearm death rates higher than the Canadian average. The rate of women killed with guns is higher in rural areas because there are more firearms available.

· Women's groups across the country including the B.C./Yukon Society of Transition Houses, Alberta Council of Women's Shelters, the Calgary Action Committee Against Violence, the Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre, the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, the Prince Albert Emergency Shelter for Women, the YWCA of Victoria, Calgary, Toronto and Canada, oppose efforts to water down the law.

Please note that firearm registration is a one-time only procedure (a form to fill), currently free of charge, which:

· makes gun owners accountable for their firearms and enforces the licensing provisions of the law. Furthermore, registration makes it more difficult for straw purchases to occur, as well as illegal sales by legal gun owners.

· is an essential tool used by police when taking preventive action, and enforcing prohibition orders. It is the system police use to ensure that all firearms are removed from an individual's possession when the situation warrants it.

· helps police investigations. 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 smuggling.

· reduces the chances that legal guns will be diverted into illegal markets.

It would be our pleasure to help you to incorporate gun control into your December 6 activities this year. If you are interested in receiving postcards, could you please give us an idea as to how many you would like to receive, and confirm your full coordinates? If you prefer a handout, just send us an e-mail and we will prepare one promptly.

Coalition for Gun Control supporters include the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canada Safety Council, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre and the Dawson Gun Control Committee, the YWCA of Canada as well as over 300 provincial and local organizations who are united in opposing any efforts to water down the legislation.

Wendy Cukier MA, MBA, Ph.D, DU (hon), LLD (hon), MSC

President, Coalition for Gun Control

Professor, Ryerson University


COALITION for Gun Control

P.O. Box 90062, 1488 Queen St. W

Toronto, ON M6K 3K3

Tel. (416) 604-0209




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