For over 20 years, the Coalition for Gun Control is working to make Canada safer. The Coalition is supported by more than 200 health, crime prevention, victims, policing, women’s and community organizations from across Canada which have worked to reduce violence and injury over almost 30 years. We have made progress but much more needs to be done.
While Canada has a much lower rate of firearm death and injury than the USA, however it compares poorly to other industrialized nations: we are fourth among 22 OECD countries in the rate of firearm death. For the first time in 20 years, police in Toronto and communities across Canada report recovering more crime guns that originated from legal owners in Canada than were smuggled in from the United States. United States currently has better controls over the sales of firearms than we do in Canada.
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. More recently, the weapon used in the Quebec City mosque shooting was also an unrestricted firearm.
Minister of Public Security Ralph Goodale introduced new firearms legislation (C-71) and intends to push it through before the summer recess. The law is tepid at best but there is a real risk even it will not pass. We need to work quickly to pressure the government to make the law as strong as possible, the back it up with rigorous implementation and to correct the decade of anti gun control propaganda with a strong public education campaign. The regulation of firearms is an important part of efforts to reduce crime, to reduce violence against women, to reduce suicide and to keep our communities safe. Effective regulations reduce the risk that firearms will be misused and to prevent the diversion of legal guns to illegal markets. In spite of vocal opposition by a well funded influential gun lobby, enabled by the NRA, we must keep public health and safety front and centre of this discussion. In recent polling by both Hill and Knowlton and Environics, the vast majority of Canadians favor rigorous screening of gun owners, controls on the sales of firearms, prohibitions of military assault weapons and strict controls on handguns.
Please join us and/or send a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Together we can make Canada safer.
We need action, but we need evidence based measures that will be effective including.
- Reverse the measures passed by the Conservatives in C-42 – restore tightly defined controls on handguns and other restricted weapons.
- Restore strict screening and routine licensing checks for all firearms.
- Provide the needed resources, training and tools to properly implement and enforce the measures in the legislation.
- Ban military assault weapons and sniper rifles – update the prohibited and restricted lists consistent with the advice of police experts.
- Establish as quickly as possible, a system to track all gun sales, re-establishing and modernizing measures that were introduced in 1977 but eliminated in 2012. Eliminate the loop holes that allow secondary sales with no accountability.
- Put in place the necessary measures to allow Canada to ratify important international agreements – 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, the Marking and Tracing Agreement and CEDAW.
- Consider more effective ways to address the problems of airguns (which cause harm) versus replicas (which are prohibited)
- Harmonize reporting of injuries across Canada. In Ontario only (Bill 110), it is mandatory for physicians to report any firearm injuries (whether unintentional, assault or suicide).
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.