Gun Control is a Feminist Issue

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

News from the Coalition for Gun Control

With the ink barely dry on Bill C-19 and the court battle over its constitutionality barely begun, the Conservatives and the gun lobby are already speaking openly of their plans to further weaken gun control in Canada. This time, however, they plan on doing it away from the public scrutiny of the House of Commons but in secret at a little known committee.

Conservative MPs Rob Anders and Gary Breitkreuz, long-time vocal opponents to Canada's gun control laws, are members of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations and have recently started pushing the Committee to review important, established gun control provisions. In a recent news article, MP Anders and MP Breitkreuz spoke of their plans and the ultimate goal to repeal all gun control provisions passed under the Firearms Act in 1995.

Few Canadians realize that many important gun control provisions that are crucial to public safety were not part of the text of Bill itself, but part of its regulations. It is these provisions that the Conservatives now have in their sight. They include:

•Safe-storage rules for firearms

•Licencing of gun owners and screening procedure for risk factors of violence and suicide

•Requirements to transport restricted and prohibited firearms

•Classification of firearms

•Firearms marking, a requirement under our international obligations that helps trace weapons flows, prevent the diversion of legal guns to the illegal market and combat illegal trade.

MP Breitkreuz said he wants gun licences to have a 10-year or lifetime validity, rather than the 5-year validity currently in place. We renew driver's licenses, health cards, passports and even dog licenses regularly to ensure that information is kept up to date. Maintaining current information about firearm owners is critical to maintaining public safety.

MP Breitkreuz also said that many of the changes he will advocate were included in his failed Private Member's Bill in 2009. What the article fails to mention is that many of the licence and transport changes in that Bill also applied to restricted and prohibited weapons, including handguns.

Also quoted in the article is the Canadian Sports Shooting Association Executive Director Tony Bernardo, a member of Minister Toews's advisory committee on firearms who said that he thinks the entire Firearms Act should be thrown out and rewritten. While women's associations and front line service providers were not invited to testify at the Senate Committee hearings into C-19, Mr. Bernardo used his testimony there to rail against the spousal notification part of the licence process, saying that "the state has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians" and that spouses and ex-spouses should not be notified or given the opportunity to object before someone obtains their gun licence.

Screening gun owners for risk factors associated with violence and suicide, regular renewals of firearm licenses, spousal notification and reference check ensure that the information on record in the gun registry - name, address, etc. - is accurate, and helps keep guns out of the hands of individuals who represent a threat to themselves or others.
Designed by Rachel Gold.