For over 20 years, the Coalition for Gun Control is working to make Canada safer. We have made progress but much more needs to be done. Now more than ever, we have to fight further erosion of the protections we have fought so hard to implement. Over the last decade the Conservatives have steadily eroded our laws. First with C-19, they ended the registration of rifles and shotguns and in an act that could only be seen as vengeful, destroyed the data on more than 5 million rifles and shotguns or unrestricted firearms. By actively using the courts, the Province of Quebec was able to retain the data on about 1.6 million long guns in that province. What many do not know is that Bill C-19 also eliminated a requirement to keep records on the sales of unrestricted firearms eliminating measures in place since 1977. This means that today a licences gun owner can purchase 1, 10 or 50 unrestricted firearms, including the Ruger Mini 14 used in the Montreal massacre, and no record is kept of the guns purchased.
The Conservatives also introduced Bill C-42 which eroded controls on restricted weapons – including handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons and politicized the process used to define prohibited weapons. Over the 10 years they were in power – legal ownership of restricted weapons – primarily handguns and semi-automatic military assault weapons have doubled with more than 1 million now in circulation. This increases the risk these weapons will be misused or diverted to illegal markets. Police believe the erosion of controls have contributed to an increase in gun violence. For the first time in more than 20 years, the majority of guns recovered in crime in Toronto were at one time legally owned in Canada rather than being smuggled in from the United States. Police, mayors, women’s groups and public health organizations have called on the new Government to strengthen our laws but so far the Trudeau Government has done nothing despite its election promises.
As a minimum, the Trudeau Government must:
- Establish as quickly as possible, a system for whom to track all gun sales, reestablishing and modernizing measures that were introduced in 1977 but eliminated in 2005.
- Reverse the measures passed in C-42 – restore strict screening and routine licensing checks and verification on all firearm purchases.
- Eliminate the loopholes in Authorizations to Transport restricted weapons such as handguns.
- Ban military assault weapons – update the prohibited and restricted lists consistent with the advice of police experts.
- Put in place the necessary measures to allow Canada to ratify important international agreements – including the OAS Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, explosives, the 2001 Program of Action on the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and the Marking and Tracing Agreement and CEDAW.
- Restore detailed data analysis of firearms death, injury and crime; imports/exports, sources of firearms in crime to support research and track progress.
- Embark on a national awareness program to highlight the risks associated with firearms in suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries, extending our Quebec firearm violence prevention initiative “Save a Life. Ask the question. Is there a gun?”
- Reinstate evidence-based approaches which consider firearms in the context not just of street crime but domestic violence and suicide. Provide open and transparent access to data on guns and gun ownership, firearms death and injury.
- Bring back a comprehensive approach to preventing crime, domestic violence and suicide, which recognizes the importance of effective gun control.
- Bring experts on public safety, suicide prevention, crime prevention and prevention of violence against women back to the discussion table.
Please join us and/or send a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Together we can make Canada safer.
To learn more about the history of gun control and how it has improved public safety in Canada, you can watch this video, or visit our page on Fireams Legislative History.