Canada: NCWC Call to Defeat Bill C-391

28 September 2009

An open letter by the The National Council of Women of Canada to Members of the Canadian Parliament urging them to maintain existing national gun laws.

To: Members of Parliament, Government of Canada
Re: NCWC Call to Defeat Bill C-391
September 23, 2009

Conservative MP Candace Hoeppner’s Private Member’s Bill C-391 is scheduled for second reading debate on Monday 28 September, 2009. Bill C-391 proposes to eliminate long-gun registration and to destroy all existing registration records.

The National Council of Women of Canada is strongly in favour of gun control. We, along with the police, believe that the gun registry is an important tool to prevent crime and to support criminal investigations, in addition to getting guns away from those who should not have them. It is equally important to have licences renewed to ensure that the data the Registry has, is as up to date as possible. We believe that the existing controls over rifles and shotguns have contributed to public safety. Compliance with the law has been estimated at over 90% (2 million gun owners, 7 million guns are in the system.) Since 1995, 333 fewer Canadians die annually from gunshots. Homicides with firearms are down, suicides with firearms are down, and domestic violence with firearms has gone down drastically (although murders by other means have not.)

The Coalition for Gun Control shows that the current system works, stating that 9000 licences were revoked from potentially dangerous persons. Those who support the Gun Control Registry include the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, the Canadian Police Association, the Centre for Suicide Prevention, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, and more than 40 women’s organizations.

We firmly believe that all firearms should be strictly controlled. Unrestricted rifles and shotguns are most often used in domestic violence, suicide, and police killings. They include the powerful semi-automatics such as that used at the Ecole Polytechnique and the “elephant gun” used to kill Constable Gignac in Laval. These guns are also frequently found in caches recovered from gangs and organized crime.

There are still too many tragedies involving rifles and shotguns, for example:

Heidi Ferguson was shot by her estranged husband at her Orangeville, ON, home in September 2009. An avid gun collector and hunter, it is believed he later turned the gun on himself.

In July 2009 Joan Hanson, her daughter and granddaughter were shot by her estranged husband who then turned the rifle on himself at her rural home in northern Alberta. Financial pressure is believed to have been a motive.

In November 2008 84-year-old Lily Walker was shot by her husband who committed suicide in Red Deer, Alberta.

In February 2008, an 8-year-old wounded his 9-year-old friend with his father’s .22 calibre rifle while playing “guns” in the basement of his house on Manitoulin Island, ON.

In February 2008, a teenager in Whitby, ON, contacted police as her distraught stepfather had locked himself in a closet with a rifle and was threatening to commit suicide. Police found 26 firearms inside the house, all of them legally registered.

A 16-year-old girl was shot in the head by her 17-year-old boyfriend in Regina, SK, with a stolen rifle and ammunition in October 2007. The girl lost one eye, the hearing in her right ear, experienced paralysis on one side of her face, some brain damage, and had to relearn how to walk, speak, chew and swallow.

In September 2007, Kathryn Knudsen was shot to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of a local park in Sarnia, ON, by her boyfriend who then committed suicide.

The man found guilty of a triple murder in Ontario stole a rifle on a nearby farm in July 2007 and killed Bill and Helene Regier at their Mount Carmel, ON, farmhouse.

We need gun control and the gun control registry. The evidence shows that stronger gun laws, which include the licensing of gun owners and the registration of guns, have helped to reduce gun-related death, injury, violence and suicide.

The National Council of Women of Canada strongly urge you, the Members of Parliament, to defeat Bill C-391.

Karen Dempsey
President, National Council of Women of Canada

The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation comprised of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, and Nationally Organized Societies. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.

The National Council of Women of Canada