The Canadian Firearms Registry Program was introduced in response to public pressure, particularly by women activists, to strengthen gun control legislation.Since its inception, the gun registry has saved lives. The rate of homicides with rifles and shotguns has decreased by 70 per cent since 1991. The gun registry has also been an important tool for tackling domestic violence.
Now, a Conservative private members bill is attempting to scrap the registry entirely. CUPE’s National Executive Board passed a resolution reaffirming its support of the Canadian Firearms Registry and its opposition to Bill C-391. CUPE encourages our members and activists to speak out on this issue, and lobby Members of Parliament to defeat Bill C-391. The safety of many Canadian women and their families depends on it.
Let your local MP know that scrapping the Canadian Firearms Registry is dangerous and irresponsible.
What is the Canadian Firearms Registry Program?
The Canadian Firearms Registry Program requires gun owners to be licensed, register their firearms and store them locked and unloaded. The registry was introduced in response to public pressure, particularly by women activists, to strengthen gun control legislation in the years following the December 6, 1989 Montreal massacre. Long guns were identified as an effective target: in 1991, one third of the murders of women in Canada were by their husbands with guns – 88 per cent were long guns.
Why is the gun registry being threatened?
Bill C-391 is a Conservative private members bill. Introduced in Parliament on April 1, 2009, the bill would effectively kill the gun registry by eliminating the long gun registry, which covers rifles and shotguns. On November 4, 2009, Bill C-391 passed second reading in the House of Commons.
Myths about the gun registry
During the summer of 2009, the Conservative Party launched a radio and leaflet campaign targeting rural and northern communities across Canada in support of Bill C-391. The Conservative campaign perpetuated the myths:
- The Canadian Firearms Registry Program imposes a limitation on access to firearms or usage, thus having a negative impact on rural hunting communities. Not true.
- Gun violence is an urban problem. Not true. In fact, gun deaths are higher in rural and western provinces.
A large portion of the NDP and Liberal MPs who supported Bill C-391 are from the communities targeted by the Conservative campaign.
Do we need a Canadian Firearms Registry Program?
Absolutely. Since its inception, the gun registry has saved lives. The rate of homicides with rifles and shotguns has decreased by 70 per cent since 1991. The gun registry has been an important tool for tackling domestic violence. Police use the registry as a crucial resource, checking it more than 10,000 times a day across the country, including in domestic violence disputes. Currently, 90 per cent of guns are registered, with approximately seven million shotguns and rifles.
Isn’t the gun registry expensive?
The program was not designed to be cost-effective or to sustain itself on user fees, but to acquire and maintain accurate records of registered guns. That said, the annual cost of a license to own any amount of guns is only $12.00 per year. And once a user is licensed, there is no cost to register their firearms.
Is it too late to stop Bill C-391?
Bill C-391 will enter its third reading in the House of Commons in spring 2010. For the bill to be defeated, the 14 MPs who supported it at second reading need to be convinced to vote against it this time around.
Here’s where you can help: write your MP, and let them know that you think passing Bill C-391 is irresponsible. Urge them to defeat the bill, and to encourage their colleagues in Parliament to do the same. The safety of many Canadian women and their families depends on it.