Update on Legal Challenge to Save the Gun Registry

Thursday, August 2, 2012

From the Coalition for Gun Control:

In spite of the federal government's best efforts, the fight to preserve the registry continues. On Monday, Toronto's Schlifer Clinic went to court to fight to stop the government's efforts to have their Charter challenge to maintain the registry thrown out of court.

In May, the Schlifer Clinic, a Toronto clinic serving abused women, filed a Charter challenge against Bill C-19 and the elimination of the long-gun registry, based on the violation of the life, liberty and security of women  under section 7 and on the violation of women's equality rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

While it is widely known that women are at disproportionate risk of gun violence, women's safety experts and front-line women's organizations were given only limited opportunities to give input into Bill C-19 and even then, their recommendations were completely ignored. Now, the government is trying to have the Charter case dismissed before arguments are heard.

The Schlifer challenge is in addition to Quebec's ongoing case against the federal government demanding access to the province's data. The court is currently considering the case, with a ruling expected in the fall, until which time the registry continues in the province and the federal government is forbidden from affecting the integrity of the registry data. We are disappointed that no other provinces have joined Quebec, particularly in light of efforts by the Conservative government to further weaken our gun control laws.

At the end of June, the federal government quietly passed regulations forbidding provinces from requiring gun dealers to maintain records of their sales of rifles and shotguns, undoing a measure in place since 1977 under the false pretense they were "back-door registries." This dangerous change will make these guns completely untraceable, meaning it will be next to impossible for police to trace guns used in crime or to hold dealers who sell to unlicensed and dangerous individuals to account. In light of global efforts to improve the regulation and tracing of firearms, this change is shocking.    

But all is not lost. Quebec, the Schlifer Clinic and others are championing efforts to prevent the destruction of our gun laws. The Schlifer challenge includes a request for an injunction to prevent any data from being deleted. Originally scheduled to be heard in August, arguments for the injunction will be heard in court on September 13th, while the full case will be heard in March 2013.

Earlier this month, Toronto City Council voted to seek intervenor status and support the Schlifer Clinic in its fight. The court will hear from the City's lawyers on Friday to decide whether to grant their request to intervene.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to know how you can support the Schlifer challenge and broader efforts to maintain sensible gun control laws in Canada.

Designed by Rachel Gold.