A Personal Message for Jack Layton on the Gun Registry

Dear Jack

I’ve written a couple of times on the proposed abolition of the long gun registry, now before Parliament. I have argued gun control is very much a health care issue, and that real lives are at stake. From my perspective as a Registered Nurse, working in an urban Emergency Department, the issue is not about rights or rural culture, but about protecting the vulnerable from harm.

You’ll have to forgive me, Jack, if I am a little emotional on this issue. You see, unlike you and probably all anti-gun-registry MPs — Conservatives and New Democrats alike — I have actually seen gunshot wounds, up close and personal. I have the seen the devastating trauma they have on individuals, families and communities, the lasting scars they leave which never can be repaired. For you, I think, it’s an issue you can debate with Olympian remoteness. It’s all an abstraction, a game of politics played with the lives of your constituents, not a reality of death and mutilation. “Ah,” you say, “It’s a matter of conscience, MPs should vote as they like: who knows the rights and the wrongs.” You know better than this, Jack. You know there is a direct correlation between the gun registry and deaths from firearms. You know the death rate from shotguns and rifles declined an astonishing 44% from 1995 when the Firearms Act was proclaimed to 2008.

From down here in the trenches, your “freedom of conscience” looks a lot like cant and hypocrisy.

Expert opinion, ranging from nurses to police chiefs to Emergency Department physicians have all spoken in favour of retaining the gun registry. They — and I — don’t have any dogs in this fight. I doubt at this point any appeals to reason or even common sense will change your mind, Jack, or get you or your caucus to do the right thing. But when I’m busy getting the trauma room ready for the next gunshot victim — and I know the numbers will increase, as sure as stupidity reigns in Ottawa — I’ll be thinking of you, Jack, and shaking my head. You guys just don’t get it.




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  1. #1 by Skinny Dipper on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1153

    The problem with this Conservative private member’s bill is that it is a phony private member’s bill. I wonder how many Conservative MPs have voted against this bill. I’ll bet none. Jack Layton needs to realize that this is a phony private member’s bill. Don’t play into Harper’s hands. Don’t form an unofficial Conservative-NDP coalition.

  2. #2 by Skinny Dipper on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1205

  3. #3 by Ellie on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1426

    Good to hear a progressive thinking (I assume, from reading the Toronto Emerg blog on a regular basis) individual take Jack to task
    on this issue. Seems a common hesitation among “progressive
    thinkers” to criticize the once social democratic party for politics
    worthy of self interested pandering polticians.

  4. #4 by Rob on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1554

    Sorry you don’t get to decide something is a phony private members bill or not. The NDP has never and can never whip a private members bill no matter how many Conservatives vote for it or Liberals vote against it. It would kill the party. Kill the cause and put our democracy back.

  5. #5 by Skinny Dipper on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1629

    Hi Rob,

    Yes, “phony” is subjective. However, the optics for the NDP will look bad if enough of its MPs support the Conservative private member’s bill. Imagine the NDP being hounded with, “The NDP is against the protection of women due to its reckless support of getting rid of the gun registry.” Even of only a minorty of NDP MPs support the Conservative bill, the optics will look bad for the NDP.

    I looked at the last election results. There are only about three or four NDP MPs who could be hurt if they decided to oppose getting rid of the gun registry. These three or four face strong Conservative support in the next election. Thankfully, Jack Layton is suggesting that there be amendments. This will hopefully give some NDP MPs a reason to oppose the Conservative private member’s bill. If the Conservatives can’t accept amendments, then there is no reason to support the Conservatives on their private member’s bill. Hopefully, Layton’s NDP MPs will bite.

  6. #6 by Jim Pook on Tuesday 31 August 2010 - 1027

    I think that Jack Layton is taking a noble stand on this issue.

    It would be all too easy for him to push his own views on the party and whip the vote to his liking. Then he would be like all the others.

    No, Jack is allowing his members to take stands contrary to his own, bucause that is what their voters wanted in their ridings. It’s tough to swallow sometimes, but that’s the way democracy works.

    • #7 by torontoemerg on Tuesday 31 August 2010 - 1707

      Jim, I didn’t know writing satire was your forte. Thanks for the laugh.

  7. #8 by Art Doctor on Tuesday 31 August 2010 - 2212

    Thank you for writing this letter, and I am now writing to say that I support you in this issue.

    On December 6th at the memorial service at the Ontario College of Art & Design University, I spoke on this issue and there is no way around it. With the gun registry, it will not increase the occurrences. Offenders are cowards, and so their guns need to be registered so that they can be held accountable for the atrocities that they cause. Long guns are the number one cause of death in high risk domestic violence cases, as TorontoEmerg has also similarly stated above, and so why is this even being questioned? Jack, you have to decide for the long gun registry, make your own informed decisions based on the public safety of our society, your voters in the NDP, and for the future of our children.

  8. #9 by James M. Chard on Wednesday 22 September 2010 - 2033

    Thanks Jack: I didn’t want to, but after today, I guess I will have to vote P.C. I am a reasonable rural CANADIAN! You shouldn’t laugh, and you should have had to shoot something, simply for survival. You maybe would have been able to see the light, not just the Aura Borealis of the next election.

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