Posts Tagged Canadian Firearms Registry

“We Will Now All Be Unwilling Participants in a Social Experiment That Will Undoubtedly Place Canadian Lives at Risk”

My thoughts exactly, from Alan Drummond of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. His full statement on the proposed repeal of the Gun Registry.

It is regrettable that we, as a nation, are about to embark on an unwelcome social experiment. The Conservative government has been very clear that they intend to finally abolish the gun registry. This is regrettable in so far as it is clear to Canada’s emergency physicians that the gun registry has, in fact, worked and the number of deaths from inappropriate firearms use has dropped dramatically since the institution of the Firearms Act. The government has consistently portrayed this act as a victimization of rural long gun owners, conveniently ignoring the clear scientific evidence that rural suicides with long guns are the principal issue in the tragic toll of Canadian firearms deaths. So we will now all be unwilling participants in a social experiment that will undoubtedly place Canadian lives at risk. Our question to our government is that relative to the perceived inconvenience and cost of registration, what will be the true cost, in direct human suffering, of their ideologically driven and scientifically bankrupt legislation.

Some inconvenient statistics, nicely compiled by the CBC:

Homicide by firearm
Firearm homicides, 2009: 179 (0.53 per 100 000 or about 30% of all homicides)
Firearm homicides, 1991 (the year stricter gun control was introduced):271 (0.97 per 100 000 people)
Types of firearms homicides, 2009:
Rifles or shotguns: 18% (36% in 1999)
Handguns: 69%
Prohibited firearms: 13%
Since 1995, when the gun registry became law, until 2009, the reduction in homicides by long guns: 52%
Spousal homicides caused by shootings, 2000-2009: 167 (23%)
Reduction in the rate for spousal homicides involving firearms from 1980 to 2009: -74% from nearly 3 per million spouses in 1980 to less than 1 per million spouses in 2009, according to Statistics Canada
Share of firearm-related spousal homicides involving a long gun: 50%(The rate of long-gun spousal suicides dropped about 80% between 1983 and 2009.)
Share of family-related homicides of children and youth (7 to 17 years), by shooting, 2000-2009: 26%
Of the last 18 police officers killed in the line of duty, as of August 2010, number killed by long guns: 14 (78%)
Suicide by firearm
Number of firearm-related suicides involving a long-gun, 2004: 475 ( 5.4 times the number of suicides with handguns)
Change in number of firearm-related suicides since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991 (as of 2009): -43%
Change in number of firearm-related suicides since the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1995 (as of 2009): -23%
Increased likelihood that a home where there are firearms is the scene of a suicide, than a home without a gun: 4.8 times (based on a 1992 U.S. study in the New England Journal of Medicine)

Incidentally, for you fiscal conservative types, the cost of treating a gunshot victim is about $450,000.

So, on one side of the debate, we have scientific and statistical evidence on the efficacy of the gun registry, expert opinion from health care professionals and the police, the physical and emotional cost of trauma, hundreds of deaths prevented and, on the other side, the hurt feelings of rifle owners. That’s pretty well what it boils down to, right?

[Update 29/10/11: Fixed formatting problems.]

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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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