On Thursday April 5th, after being passed by the Senate, Bill C-19: An Act to Abolish the Long-Gun Registry received royal assent and has now become law.
As a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I found it incredibly unfortunate that the debate surrounding the long-gun registry was framed in a fashion that placed Canadians living in rural areas of Canada against Canadians living in urban areas. The gun registry was not about taking away the rights of farmers and hunters; it was about providing a tool to the police that will help them protect women. Rates of death with guns are in fact higher in rural and northern areas. It is women living in rural areas that benefit from the added protection that the long-gun registry provides as it is these women who are disproportionately affected by domestic violence and spousal abuse.
Every year in Canada, more than 100,000 women and children leave their homes to seek safety in a shelter. Gun violence is present in the majority of these cases, leaving women intimidated and vulnerable. In fact, research has indicated that rates of homicides in domestic violence situations increase significantly where there is a firearm in the home. Once again, long-guns – not handguns – are the weapons of choice.
Unfortunately, our committee did not get a chance to actively reflect on this side of the debate. In fact, the impact abolishing the gun registry will have on women across our country was not properly assessed.
In my opinion, by not insisting that a gender based analysis be completed on Bill C-19 and by not providing professionals who work with women who are victims of violence and abuse we as Senators have failed to live up to our duty, which is to provide a sober second thought.
On the very last day of our study, our committee had the privilege of hearing from Ms. Priscilla de Villiers. Ms. de Villiers shared with our committee that her 19 year old daughter Nina was abducted at gun point and shot by a sexual offender with a .22 caliber weapon which he used on his farm. She went on to explain to the committee that she always found comfort in the saying, “What we learn from the death of one may save the lives of many.” This was precisely why the gun registry was established. Unfortunately, despite the plea of Ms. de Villers and other victim’s advocates, the gun registry will now be dismantled.
On that same day our committee also had the privilege of hearing from a group of students and graduates from the Ecole Polytechnique for the control of firearms. These students made a very compelling presentation which included photographs of firearms which will no longer have to be registered. I have enclosed an excerpt of thier presentation which includes these photographs for you to review.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support.
Your comments were insightful and the questions you provided me with proved to be very helpful.
Although I understand that this was not the outcome that many of us had hoped for, I hope that we can continue to work together and discover new public safety tools that will help ensure that our streets and homes are safe.
Once again, I thank you for your support and I look forward to working with you in the near future.