Canada: Families and Small Communities Pay A Terrible Price for Gun Violence

20 September 2010

Victims of violence are calling on politicians to save the firearms registry. “The recent suggestion that the support for the registry is drive by ‘Toronto elites’ should not be dignified with a response,” said founder of Canadians Against Violence (CAVEAT), Priscilla de Villiers. “Rates of firearm death and injury are higher in rural areas because guns are more readily available. Women and police officers are more likely to be killed with firearms in smaller communities. Rates of suicide and accidents are also much higher.”

On Sept. 22, 2010, Opposition Members of Parliament will try to save the firearms registry by killing Private Member’s Bill C-391 that would end the registration of seven million rifles and shotguns. Policing and public safety experts across the country claim lives are at stake if the registration of rifles and shotguns is ended. Recently, Welland Member of Parliament Malcolm Allen pledged to stand up for safety and support the registry reversing his previous position that supported the Conservative Private Member’s Bill. However, other MPs in the Niagara Region will vote to end the registration of rifles and shotguns in spite of the support of local victims, police and women’s groups.

Margaret Pinard, formerly of Welland, Ontario, whose daughter Carrie Lynn Pinard was killed by a shotgun in Toronto on August 10, 1992 said, "Carrie was in the right place at the wrong time. Shots were fired in the hallway of her apartment building, shattering through her apartment door. Carrie was killed and our lives, our family, our future changed forever. It still feels like yesterday. The shotgun used in this murder was never found. Please ensure that all gun owners are licensed and all guns are registered. We must do everything we can to stop gun violence." The Carrie Lynn Pinard Community Centre in Welland was named in her memory.

Karen Vanscoy’s 14-year-old daughter Jasmine was shot and killed by an acquaintance using a stolen gun in St. Catharines, ON, on Sept. 24, 1996. “Rather than catering to the opponents of the law, who will never be satisfied until gun control is dismantled, we need political leaders who are prepared to address the myths head on, state the simple facts: the registry works,” Vanscoy said. “It is a good investment. Virtually every major public safety organization in the country has maintained that the registry helps reduce the chances dangerous people will get guns by holding gun owners accountable. Jasmine was killed with a handgun but all guns are potentially dangerous and all guns should be registered.”

Priscilla de Villiers, whose daughter Nina was abducted from a Burlington tennis court and killed with a legally owned unrestricted rifle in 1991. The killer was out on bail on violence offenses for sexual assault on a stranger at gunpoint using the same gun. She noted that the inquest into the killing recommended licensing all gun owners and the registration of all guns. “During this whole debate, there has been virtual silence on the victims’ perspective,” she said. “People talk about gun owner rights. What about our rights and the rights of our children to be safe. Every group concerned about crime prevention and public safety supports the registry. We are calling on Canadians to make their voices heard.”

Victims rights advocate from St. Catharines, Donna French’s daughter Kristen was abducted and murdered in 1991. Said French, “My daughter Kristen was not killed with a firearm but I know the agony of losing a child and I stand with the victims of gun violence to defend the registry. We want to make it harder, not easier, for dangerous people to get guns. Politicians should put the priority on public safety. The costs of maintaining the registry are modest, the risks of eliminating are enormous.”

17 September 2010: St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Coalition for Gun Control