Canada: Coalition for Gun Control Takes Aim at Myths About the Firearms Registry

25 May 2010

On 25 May 2010, Coalition for Gun Control President, and IANSA woman, Wendy Cukier testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) of Canada to oppose Bill C-391. Bill C-391 proposes to end the requirement to register non-restricted firearms, a critical element in Canada’s gun control policy. Wendy challenged myths about the registration of rifles and shotguns and present the facts on behalf of 300 public safety organisations including major police, public health, women’s safety and labour groups.

The Coalition for Gun Control maintains that Bill C-391, which ends the requirement to register 7 million “non-restricted” rifles and shotguns will jeopardise public safety.

"If this Bill passes, most communities will have more information about cats and dogs than firearms," said Cukier.

Myths surrounding the discussion around gun control tend to focus on the problems of urban violence, gangs, and handguns. This however ignores the fact that most firearm deaths in Canada are suicides and the guns most often used are rifles and shotguns. In addition, referring to harmless “duck guns” masks the truth: if this law passes, police will no longer be able to trace non-restricted firearms including the powerful semi-automatic Ruger Mini 14 used in the Montreal Massacre and sniper rifles such as the L115A3 and the Steyr-Mannlicher HS50 which can pierce Kevlar vests and fire bullets over 2 km with great accuracy.

“The opponents of the registry have also deliberately misrepresented the costs,” Cukier adds. “At this point in time, the savings that would be obtained from dismantling the registry are less than $4 million a year. This small investment is dwarfed by costs of firearm death and injury.”

Bill C-391 proposes to end the requirement to register non-restricted firearms, a critical element in Canada’s gun control policy. The facts are:

  • Rifles and shotguns figure prominently in crime and are the firearms of choice in suicide, domestic violence and the murders of police officers.
  • The proposed law will end the one-time requirement to register an estimated 7 million rifles and shotguns in Canada.
  • Screening and licensing firearm owners reduces the risks that dangerous people will have access to weapons. Registration is essential to enforcing licensing because it holds gun owners accountable for their firearms and reduces the chances that their guns will be diverted to unlicensed owners.
  • Registering all firearms assists police in removing guns from those people who are a danger to themselves or others and enforcing prohibition orders. The gun registry aids in police investigations.
  • All illegal firearms begin as legal firearms. Controls over legal guns are essential to preventing diversion and choking off the illegal supply. The registration of firearms is the norm in most industrialized countries and helps Canada meet its international obligations.

Other witnesses appearing this week to oppose Bill C-391 include:

On Tuesday May 25 (3:30-5:30) West Block, Room: 269

  • Hon. Chris Bentley, Attorney General of Ontario
  • Barbara Byers, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Council
  • Patty Ducharme, National Executive Vice-President Executive Office, Public Service Alliance of Canada

On Wednesday May 26 (3:30-5:30) Centre Block, Room: 237-C

  • William Blair, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and Chief of the Toronto Police Service
  • Priscilla de Villiers, Victim Advocate and Founder of Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination. The inquest into the suicide of her daughter Nina’s killer recommended registering rifles and shotguns.
  • For the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Pierre Maurice, Chief, Scientific Unit Safety and Injury Prevention
  • Etienne Blais, Assistant Professor School of Criminology, University of Montreal

On Thursday May 27 (3:30-5:30) West Block, Room: 269

  • For the Canadian Paediatric Society, Marie Adèle Davis, Executive Director
  • Dr. Katherine Austin Leonard, Member For the Government of Québec
  • Jacques P. Dupuis, Minister of Public Safety
  • Robert Lafrenière, Deputy Minister
Coalition for Gun Control