Monday, September 20, 2010

Urging Vigilance in Saving Gun Registry

There are two days until Parliament decides whether or not to terminate Bill C-391. If the gun registry comes to an end, Canadians will no longer be expected to register the 7 million firearms that exist in Canada, thereby depriving Canadians of a vital public safety, public health and violence prevention tool. The White Ribbon Campaign is optimistic that private members Bill C-391 will be struck down, given recent news that some members of parliament have found sufficient votes to do so. Nonetheless, while there is confidence that the votes are there, this is no time for complacency.

The White Ribbon Campaign would like to formally release the following statement, encouraging all Canadians to support saving the Gun Registry:

We are extremely pleased to hear that some members of parliament have managed through constructive debate, reasonable discourse and evaluation of policy data to secure the votes to defeat the private members Bill C-391. We also support the efforts to bring forward amendments to improve and address the real concerns of Canadian citizens on improving the gun registry. We encourage all MPs to continue to look at the facts, to listen to their constituents, and to evaluate the gun registry based on good public policy, not partisan politics. We must also ensure that all members are present for this vote.

In our work with women's groups, survivors of violence, and police across the country, we consistently hear how this tool saves the lives of women and children. Having up-to-date and accurate knowledge of firearms in a home can enable life-saving decisions when it comes to interventions, restraining orders and custody arrangements. In addition, the gun registry can prevent guns from getting into the hands of potentially dangerous people.

Contrary to some of the public debate, the system is working and is effective. The RCMP evaluation, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and many others have made it abundantly clear that this tool is essential to their public safety work. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians believes it is a vital public health tool. At a real cost of around $4 million per year, it is roughly the same expense as 2-3 major murder investigations, or $0.10 to $0.15 cents per Canadian. We cannot use the inefficiencies of almost a decade ago as an excuse to eliminate this vital tool.

The debate around the gun registry is not an issue of rural values versus urban values. It is about public policy that reflects Canadian values, which includes the desire to protect lives, to support our police, to prevent harm, and to cherish traditional ways of living. The White Ribbon Campaign believes if we can rise above the rhetoric for a moment and evaluate the gun registry on this basis, we can continue to work to improve this essential tool.

- Todd Minerson, Executive Director, White Ribbon Campaig

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