The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Archive for November, 2009

From Newswire, November 25, 2009, YWCA Canada Rose Campaign Says Women Forced to Choose between Poverty and Abuse, Calls for Federal Government Leadership on Policy Coordination

Posted by cgccanada on November 26, 2009

OTTAWA, Nov. 25 /CNW/ – YWCA Canada, the country’s single largest provider of shelter services for women and second largest provider of childcare, launched its annual Rose Campaign today, calling on the government to ensure every woman fleeing violence has access to shelter and no woman leaving shelter is forced to choose between poverty or a return to abuse. “On the eve of the 20th anniversary of that shocking day in December, 1989, we are here in Ottawa with violence survivors from across the country to say that the time for change is now, not in another twenty years,” says YWCA CEO Paulette Senior. “I am honoured to be visiting MPs in the company of these incredible advocates for change who know from experience what women need – access to shelter; a legal system that works for women; safe, affordable housing, a secure income and childcare to support their ability to work.” “I want to remind the Members of Parliament that it was the murders at l’École Polytechnique that established a Canadian consensus for gun control legislation,” says Senior. “The vast majority of women killed with guns in Canada today are killed with a shotgun or rifle, not a handgun. Registering long guns is a public safety issue and a small price to pay for every life saved.” “Over 100,000 women and children enter shelters in Canada annually,” says Ann Decter, Director of Advocacy & Public Policy. “That’s the population of a small Canadian city. They leave homes, communities and jobs in a courageous effort to build a safe life. We know the supports women need, it’s time for coordinated government action to put them in place.” Launched on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, YWCA’s annual Rose Campaign runs until December 6 and commemorates Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

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From Macleans.ca: Does regulating guns result in fewer murders?

Posted by cgccanada on November 19, 2009

In the debate over the federal registry for rifles and shotguns, the strongest argument on the side of those in favour of scrapping it has always been that imposing rules on law-abiding gun owners doesn’t work and isn’t fair. After all, criminals are not about to register their guns, so why inconvenience good citizens?

Although my instinct is to defer to police who say the registry is useful to them, I have always thought there was something to the case against, as the Prime Minister has said, “attacking farmers or duck hunters.” I grew up in a small town where rifles and shotguns were everyday items and I can see why a hunter might feel slighted by having to register.

Still, when you think it through, if gun regulations that only peaceful citizens comply with don’t actually work, then the inherent uselessness of these rules should be evident by now in the historical data on gun offences. In other words, decades of laws that by definition only the lawful obey should have had no measurable impact on violent crime.

But that’s not what the record suggests. Statistics Canada data for the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s tracks a long-term decline in homicides committed with rifles and shotguns (the firearms we regulate), against a stable rate of murders involving handguns (which police say are mostly unregulated black-market weapons).

Between 1975 and 2006, the rate of homicide involving rifles or shotguns decreased by 86 per cent, while the rate of handgun murders didn’t change much. You have to wonder, why the big difference?

One possibility is that new layers of regulation on rifles and shotguns steadily made it more cumbersome to buy one on impulse and imposed more discipline on those who own and sell them. As well, police got new enforcement tools with respect to legally owned guns.

In 1969, for example, police gained the power to seize legally owned firearms, with a warrant, if they suspected somebody was going to misuse a gun. A law passed in 1977 imposed some registration requirements on buyers and sellers of guns. Safety courses for buyers were required starting in 1979. More background information and references from would-be gun owners were demanded starting in the early 1990s. As of January 1, 2001, Canadians needed a licence to buy and own guns. And then came the explosively controversial 2003 law forcing owners to register all of their long guns. (There’s a handy RCMP history of firearms control here.)

If the complaint that regulations do nothing but penalize peaceful hunters were true, then none of this would have made any dent at all in crime. Yet during this long stretch of regulatory reform, murders committed with long guns declined precipitously, while killings with handguns held steady. (This is a key point: if handgun homicide were climbing as long-gun murders fell, then we might suspect that murderers were just switching.)

It’s possible, of course, that there’s some other explanation for the steep drop in rifle and shotgun murders. In fact, I suspect there must be other important contributing factors—there usually are many for any socially complex change in behaviour. Maybe somebody can put forward a plausible theory or, much better, point to some evidence-based research.

However, it’s at least worth pausing to seriously consider that Canada has experienced a long stretch of declining murder perpetrated with the very guns that were, over that same period, subjected to increasing regulation. The onus of proof, then, surely falls on those who would now remove some of those rules.

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Fro National Post, November 11, 2009, Canadians want gun control

Posted by cgccanada on November 13, 2009

Re: The Liberals’ Rural Problem editorial; Good Riddance To The Gun Registry, Matt Gurney, both Nov. 6. The National Post does a great disservice to its readers with its constant emotional diatribe against certain life and death issues such as the Canadian Health Act and the gun registry. Nowhere in the editorial or column is there a single fact to support your editorial’s claim that the gun registry is a “cosmetic … absurdity.” Fancy phraseology do not an argument make. Is it really so difficult to explain to your readers that if it is too onerous to register a car or a pet then do not own a car or a pet? If it is so tremendously upsetting to take a few minutes to register a weapon that can cause a human being to lose his or her life, then perhaps you should not have the right to own a weapon. Your editorial also engages in character assassination of one of Canada’s most outstanding citizens, Jean Chretien, who recently received one of the highest honours from the Queen of Canada. Character assassination does not an argument make. In short, the gun registry is a useful, if-not-perfect, tool in the fight against crime. David Sommer Rovins,0 Sainte-Adele, Que.

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From: Langley Times, November 11, 2009, Conservatives not so tough on crime

Posted by cgccanada on November 12, 2009

Editor: The next time MP Mark Warawa says the Conservatives are tough on crime, you can be forgiven for rolling your eyes and snorting.  The 20th anniversary of the Dec. 6 Montreal massacre will take place in just a few short weeks. And with that comes the Conservatives’ rush to scrap Canada’s long gun registry with a vote on a private member’s bill, passed in the House of Commons on Nov. 4. What a disgrace. The repeal legislation has the support of our MP. Recently, Warawa presented a petition to Parliament regarding the long gun registry. The petitioners stated that the registry has not saved one single life since it was introduced. The origins of the long gun registry came as a direct result of the slaughter by Marc Lepine of 14 young women at École Polytechnique in Montreal with a semi-automatic weapon.  It’s hard to quantify the “not saved one single life” statement, since the massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique, but I point to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police web page in which it strongly supports the registry and argues that Canada’s two million gun owners “need to be accountable” for their seven million firearms.  According to the chiefs, officers across the country consulted the registry over 3.75 million times last year.  These checks with the registry assist officers when dealing with domestic violence calls. Police will tell you this information is vitally important to protect those in the relationship as well as the police officers who respond to such calls. The Chiefs of Police have gone on record as stating “This is about public safety. The registry has made Canada a safer country. The registry has saved lives.” While we register our cars, homes, trailers and boats, apparently the Conservatives don’t think it’s necessary to register all firearms. Just some.  I’ll think about that on Dec. 6. Shane Dyson. Aldergrove

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From The Tyee, November 10, 2009, If Long Gun Registry Is So Dumb, Why Do Police Like It? Most Canadians want it, too. So why are opposition members helping Tories kill it?

Posted by cgccanada on November 11, 2009

“The elimination of Canada’s national firearms licensing and registration system for rifles and shotguns will make Canada less safe.” — Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair The Conservative Party may get away with its drive-by shooting of the long gun registry, thanks to 20 rural Liberal and New Democrat MPs riding shotgun in the getaway car. So while both Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton opposed a Conservative MP’s private member’s bill to eliminate the registry, their gutless unwillingness to rein in their MPs allowed a key vote to pass last week. It was 12 NDP and eight Liberal MPs — including two from B.C. — who joined the Conservatives to easily pass the bill in principle. The 164 to 137 vote on second reading of Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s Bill C-391 came despite overwhelming opposition to eliminating the registry from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, other law enforcement officials and community organizations, and polls showing two-thirds of Canadians support the registry. Bill C-391 would end registration of rifles and shotguns from a database police across Canada access over 10,000 times a day. And — unbelievably — it would require the destruction of eight million existing firearms records! Ads mimic US’s National Rifle Association But while the Liberals and NDP were gutless in allowing a “free” vote of their MPs, it was shameful Conservative Party attack ads targeting rural Liberal and NDP MPs that likely pushed the vote over the top. The radio ads and flyers were based on National Rifle Association tactics in the United States to pressure British Columbia Liberal MP Keith Martin and NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Alex Atamanenko in their constituencies to vote to kill the registry. The radio ad script is outrageous, claiming that the vote would “scrap the long gun registry and protect our local way of life,” but that “political bosses in Ottawa” want the local MP to keep the registry. While the ads may have worked on some MPs — Martin and Cullen voted to kill the registry — Atamanenko bravely stood up to the Conservatives, voting no. Annual budget is under $10 million Despite claims that the registry unfairly discriminates against rural gun owners, the reality is that access to firearms is a key factor in domestic homicides. And don’t believe the Conservative hype about the long gun registry being an expensive waste of money. The former Liberal government was incompetent in setting the registry up at great cost but its annual budget is now just $8.4 million, certainly a small expenditure to ensure millions of firearms are registered. And if the Conservatives hadn’t waived the registration fees it would have paid for itself. I am not opposed to gun ownership at all. I have shot both rifles and handguns myself. I have no problem with hunters, target shooters or people in rural communities owning guns for sport or their own protection. But those guns should be registered, making owners accountable for them and police able to track the firearms for everyone’s safety. ‘We lose it at our peril’ Give the last word to Toronto’s police chief Bill Blair, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Blair says that Bill C-391 is: “intended to gut the gun registry, and to make it impossible for law enforcement officials to have access to the information, the same type of information, that enabled us to seize these weapons — and frankly, make our cities safer.” “We believe that the gun registry provides police services across this country with the information they need, first of all to help us keep communities safe, and also to keep police officers safe,” Blair said. “We lose it at our peril.” There’s still time to save the long gun registry. Tell your MP to keep it when it comes back for a final vote.

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From Newswire.ca: Canadian Emergency Physicians opposed to repealing the Long-Gun Registry

Posted by cgccanada on November 10, 2009

OTTAWA, Nov. 9 /CNW Telbec/ – The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) is greatly concerned about the recent endorsement by the House of Commons of Bill C-391, which, if passed, would repeal the Long Gun Registry. As emergency physicians, we see the true horror of firearm injury and death and can attest to the fact that the long gun registry saves lives.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 818 firearm deaths in Canada in 2005. (1) 72.5% (593) of these firearm deaths were suicides. This amounts to one person every 15 hours. Over 80% of these suicide deaths were due to long guns.(2) Gun control saves lives. Since the gun control registry was introduced in 1995, firearm suicides have decreased by 35%.(2,3)

Those opposed to long gun registration claim that there is a lack of criminal activity involving long guns. This is not true. Of firearm-related homicides in 2008 in Canada, 34% were by rifles or shotguns, 61% by handguns and 17% by prohibited firearms.(4) Long guns were used in 72% of firearm-related spousal homicides. Between 1995 and 2004, there was a 36% decrease in the use of firearms in spousal homicides.(5)

For many these may just be statistics. For emergency physicians these are real people whose demise by long gun bring tragedy to our emergency departments as we frantically try to save their lives. Families’ lives are shattered in a moment, and despite doing this regularly, we can never get used to witnessing their anguish. Dr. Carolyn Snider, a CAEP member and lead author of the peer reviewed and published “CAEP Position Statement on Gun Control” says “We recognize that the great majority of gun owners in Canada are responsible citizens. The long gun registry is not about treating them as criminals; it is about protecting the vulnerable among us. The recent vote is appalling. We will witness the tragic consequences of this bill.”

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) is a national advocacy and professional development organization representing more than 1,800 of Canada’s emergency physicians. CAEP’s mission is to provide leadership in emergency health care with a goal to enhance the health and safety of all Canadians.

The full Position Statement can be found at: http://www.caep.ca

1. Statistics Canada. Mortality, summary list of causes 2005. Available
at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/84f0209x/84f0209x2005000-eng.pdf.
2. Department of Justice. Firearm Statistics, Updated Tables 2006.
Available at: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/rs/rep-rap/2006/rr06_
2/rr06_2.pdf.
3. Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 1020540. Deaths, by cause, Chapter XX:
External causes of morbidity and mortality (V01 to Y89), age group and
sex, Canada, annually (Number). Available at:
http://cansim2.statcan.gc.ca
4. Statistics Canada. Homicide in Canada, 2008. Available at:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2009004/article/10929-eng.pdf.
5. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Family Violence in Canada: A
Statistical Profile 2006. Available at: http://www.phac-
aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/familyviolence/pdfs/fv-85-224-XIE2006000_e.pdf.

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Scrapping long-gun registry is pandering to vocal minority

Posted by cgccanada on November 9, 2009

By Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun
November 9, 2009 1:09 AM

Will Canadians ignore the irony of Parliament scrapping the long-gun registry the day before two more mass shootings in the United States and just before the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 14 women by a man with a rifle at a Montreal university?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had better hope so because the stratagem of using a private member’s bill is a transparent attempt to subvert what Canadians clearly want while evading accountability for the decision.

The biggest risk for Harper’s Conservatives will be how women react, since women are predominantly victims of murder by long gun, a fact conveniently overlooked in mostly male anger over the registry.

Yet an Ipsos Reid poll in 2006 found three out of four Canadians want stricter, not more permissive, gun controls. Most agree the gun registry is flawed. They want it fixed, not dismantled to appease special interests.

The poll — taken in the aftermath of a rampage at Dawson College by a man with a rifle — was unequivocal.

Parliament’s vote to lift registration requirements would affect non-restricted weapons, one of three categories of firearms defined in the Criminal Code, all of which now must be registered.

Non-restricted weapons have the easiest possession and licensing requirements and include rifles and shotguns normally used for hunting and pest and predator control.

The other categories — which would still have to be registered — are restricted firearms such as handguns and semi-automatic weapons; and prohibited weapons, such as automatic weapons (sometimes called machine-guns) or converted automatic weapons.

While all categories of weapons can under some circumstances be possessed by private citizens, the requirement that non-restricted firearms be registered has been the source of continuing controversy among hunters and in rural Canada.

Most Canadians reject rural arguments that only handguns — the assumed weapon of choice for urban criminals — need to be controlled because rifles and shotguns are just benign implements in the hands of sober, law-abiding rural citizens who watch the crime waves in the cities and shake their wiser heads.

Nor will most buy the gun lobby’s argument that guns defend us from criminals. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that on average, guns don’t protect their owners — in fact, they are four times more likely to be shot than somebody unarmed.

Property crimes dominate in urban settings. Criminal gangsters are more likely to be shot by another criminal with a restricted firearm in a city.

But recent studies in both the U.S. and Canada confirm that rates of domestic violence are comparable in urban and rural settings and a 2007 federal study reports that homicide rates in rural Canada are consistently high and that small-town Canada has higher overall crime rates than large cities.

Furthermore, statistics show clearly that women are more likely to be murdered with a long gun than with a handgun. So much for the myth of the big, bad city and the moral superiority of a tranquil country life.

Now let’s dispel the myth of the long gun as a benign farm, subsistence and sporting implement.

On its website, the RCMP posts sobering statistics about long guns and their relationship to violence.

Fifty-two per cent of the firearms recovered by police in relation to criminal incidents were non-restricted rifles and shotguns, according to a study conducted by police departments in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Fifty-four per cent of firearms homicides from 1974 to 1997 were committed with non-restricted rifles and shotguns.

Eighty-five per cent of domestic homicides involving firearms were committed with a non-restricted rifle or shotgun. According to a 2007 study of family violence by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the victims of murder or attempted murder by a spouse or ex-spouse were women 87 per cent of the time.

Seventy-four per cent of firearms recovered from suicides and suicide attempts were unrestricted rifles and shotguns.

These statistics tell us that the decision by parliamentarians to scrap the long-gun registry is ideologically based pandering to a self-serving myth held by a minority of Conservatives and amplified by intense lobbying from a special interest group.

Getting rid of the long-gun registry isn’t what most Canadians want. They want a registry covering all firearms and they want one that provides law officers with effective tools to reduce all firearm violence, rural as well as urban.

shume@islandnet.com

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From CBC: Police gun registry queries jumped last year: report

Posted by cgccanada on November 6, 2009

By Chris Hall, CBC News

The number of police officers using the firearms registry jumped last year, according to a report prepared by the RCMP.

Figures contained in the Mounties’ annual performance report show that the number of queries to the Canadian Firearms Registry rose 24 per cent in 2008-09.

The report also says the government spent just $8.4 million on the registry last year — a third of what had been budgeted, in part because it needed 66 fewer full-time workers than the 131 anticipated.

The information became public just a day after Liberal and New Democrat MPs from rural ridings voted with the government to scrap the long-gun registry, which covers hunting rifles and shotguns.

That bill, put forth by Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, must now go to committee for further study. However, opponents concede there is little chance of stopping it from becoming law.

The report released today blames confusion over the future of the registry for a sharp drop in the number of firearms owners who renewed their licences. The report says 100,000 gun owners failed to renew their five-year licences despite the government’s decision to waive the fees.

Owners of rifles and shotguns still need to be licenced, even if they are no longer required to register those firearms.

Some of the information included in the annual performance report comes from the commissioner of firearms’ 2008 report, which has yet to be tabled by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, despite Friday being the deadline.

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From CBC News, November 5, 2009, Quebec disappointed with gun registry vote. Bloc jumps on issue ahead of byelections

Posted by cgccanada on November 6, 2009

Quebec politicians, police officers and victims’ rights groups are expressing frustration with plans to abolish the federal long-gun registry. On Wednesday the House of Commons narrowly passed a private member’s bill calling on the government to scrap the federal long-gun registry. The vote comes one month before the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis said he was disappointed but not surprised by the vote: 164 for, 137 against. The vote is only one step in a long process to abolish the registry for rifles and shotguns, Dupuis said. Dupuis said he will continue to press Ottawa not to go through with the Conservative government’s plan and will testify at upcoming hearings before a Commons committee. The vote was also a disappointment for Montrealer Suzanne Laplante-Edward. ‘It’s been a monument erected to our daughters, and we are not about to let is disappear,’—Suzanne Laplante-Edward, mother of Polytechnique shooting victim

Edward’s 21-year-old daughter Anne-Marie was one of the 14 women gunned down at the École Polytechnique on Dec. 6 1989. Edward said she and the members of other victims’ families fought hard for the creation of the registry. “It’s been a monument erected to our daughters, and we are not about to let is disappear,” Laplante-Edward said. “Why this government is hell bent — hell bent — on destroying gun control is beyond my comprehension.” Montreal police have also weighed in on the issue. The registry is checked by police officers across Canada 10,000 thousand times a day, said Insp. Daniel Rousseau. Rousseau said the registry helped Montreal police prevent at least one potential tragedy. Soon after the Dawson College shooting in 2007, Rousseau said police received information about a young man making similar threats. Through the registry, Rousseau said police were able to learn the man owned several firearms. “So he was arrested. We seized the firearms before the commission of the criminal act,” Rousseau said. Campaign issue Meanwhile, it seems the Bloc Québecois is ready to leap on the emotional gun-control debate ahead of byelections next week in two Quebec ridings. The Bloc’s blood-oozing, bullet-riddled campaign posters suggest the pan-Canadian parties are one and the same when it comes to gun control. McGill University political scientist Antonia Maioni says this is just the sort of emotional wedge issue the Bloc was looking to seize on, to boost its support. Voters go to the polls Nov. 9 in the Montreal riding of Hochelaga and the riding of Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup in the Lower St. Lawrence region.

1.3 Dennisgruending.ca, November 4, 2009,  Long gun registry and Montreal massacre. By Dennis Gruending

TO RESPOND : http://www.dennisgruending.ca/publicandpolitics
Canada’s long gun registry could soon be scrapped thanks to a vote on a Private Member’s Bill that passed in the House of Commons on November 4th. Candice Hoeppner, a Conservative MP from Manitoba, introduced it with the blessing of the prime minister, who sees it as a timely wedge issue to shore up his base, mainly in rural and northern areas. The bill will now go to a committee for further consideration. It is ironic, to say the least, that this vote occurred just a few weeks prior to the 20th anniversary of the December 6th Montreal massacre, when Marc Lepine mowed down 14 young women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a semi-automatic weapon. Although this bill will not touch the ban on handguns, it will, if it becomes law, eliminate the requirement to register the type of people-hunting firearm that Lepine used in 1989. It was that gruesome killing which prompted the then-Liberal government of Jean Chretien to pass the Firearms Act in 1995, requiring gun owners to obtain permits and to register their guns. The act did not prevent people from owning and using rifles and shotguns, but they were legally bound to register them. Supporters, including Canada’s police chiefs, believe the registry is a valuable tool for preventing gun violence, often arising from criminal activity and domestic disputes. Some people can be denied ownership of a gun if they have a record of instability or violence. With a registry, police arriving on the scene of disturbances can find, by running a computer check, if there are registered firearms at the address. In fact, death and injury from firearms have declined by over 40% in Canada during the era of stronger gun laws. The Conservatives opposed the registry vociferously in opposition. In government, they have refused to enforce the registry’s provisions and are now poised to get rid of it altogether. Opposition to the original registry was centred in the Reform Party led by Preston Manning and among fellow travellers in gun, wildlife and hunting lobbies. Manning was able to turn the issue to his advantage. The registry’s implementation went badly, a saga that involved large cost overruns and expensive computer software that didn’t work – but that wasn’t the main reason for the opposition. As with many issues in the culture wars, the gun registry became a proxy for something much larger. Guns in the trenches I have considerable experience in the trenches on the guns issue. I was a candidate in four federal elections in mixed urban-rural constituencies in Saskatchewan and the gun registry featured in every one of those campaigns. In 1997, I was a candidate in Saskatoon-Humboldt, the area where I was born and raised. One day I was campaigning in a small town that was clearly suffering from the rural economic crisis. The rail line had been removed and the two tall grain elevators at the head of Main Street were being dismantled.  The town’s business buildings were shabby and much of the housing stock was run down. I came upon a man who was backing his truck out of a driveway. He recognized me and said that he knew my sister. “I haven’t got much time,” he said. “I just want to know one thing. What is your position on gun control?” I asked him if that issue was more important to him in an election than the fact that his town had lost its rail line and its grain elevator. “You bet it is,” he said. I lost that election by 221 votes to the Reform Party candidate. I have asked myself many times since why people would base their vote on something that has little or nothing to do with their personal well-being and that actually makes their communities more prone to gun violence. Then in 2004, I read a book that provided a good part of the answer. It’s called What’s The Matter with Kansas and was written by Thomas Frank. He says that Kansas has changed. In the early 1900s it was a hotbed of agrarian radicalism. People took on the banks and the railroads and the business and political Establishments who they believed were ripping them off. In this way it was very much like Saskatchewan in the same era, and at least a bit like the Saskatchewan in which I grew up. In Kansas today, the rich vote Republican as they always did, but they are not nearly such fervent supporters of arch-conservatism as are farmers, elements of the middle class and even the poor. How can this be? Frank says these people are angry. They are in backlash mode. And who are they angry with? Not with greedy bankers or industrialists or right wing politicians who lie to them in every election. Frank writes: “The backlash mobilizes voters with explosive social issues – summoning public outrage over everything from busing to un-Christian art – which it them marries to pro-business economic policies. Cultural anger is marshalled to achieve economic ends. And is these economic achievements – not the forgettable skirmishes of the never-ending cultural wars – that are the movement’s greatest monuments.” I found this analysis instructive about Saskatchewan. There was a lot of anger among the gun crowd aimed at what they called big government — and the firearms registry was a new government program. These people said they were good, law-abiding citizens and that the government was treating them like criminals. There was anger at bureaucrats, at liberals and anger directed against big city dwellers. The people most opposed to the gun registry were generally from towns, smaller cities, and rural areas. The people most in favour were from larger cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The people against the gun registry did not want a bunch of city slickers telling them what to do. Some also feared that the government wanted information about their guns so that it could take them away, and then do bad things to them. They said they had the right to have guns to protect themselves and their loved ones, a ludicrous argument that sounded as though it may have been imported from a Montana militia. There was another sombre overtone here. The Reform Party made good mileage in the West by being anti-Quebec and the party also contained anti-feminist elements. My experience in four election campaigns was that you got nowhere with people opposed to the gun registry if you said that the Montreal massacre was a reason why firearms should be registered. That argument left them cold. There was rarely, if ever, any acknowledgement or sympathy expressed for Marc Lepine’s victims. Guns a symbolic issue To summarize, the gun registry issue became a symbolic issue, even a metaphorical one. This was no accident because the Canadian right, borrowing from the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby in the United States, framed the debate. They constantly talked about “gun control” by a big, bad government — but the issue was really about registering firearms, and if you had no criminal record or record of violence or instability you could register your gun. We register cars, boats, mortgages, even bicycles and dogs. What is so sinister about registering firearms?  The right coined the phrase “gun control” and many of us fell into the trap of using their language. When you do that, as American linguist George Lakoff tells us, you have lost the debate. Lakoff also describes how political conservatives in the United States made a conscious decision in the 1970s to spend the money to build an intellectual culture for the right. For example, wealthy people financed think tanks and set up professorships and scholarships at many universities, including Harvard. “These institutions have done their job very well,” Lakoff says. The right deliberately transformed the language of American politics and in Canada the right has borrowed techniques and language on guns and a range of other issues. Safe communities The Conservatives talk constantly about safe communities, but what they mostly mean is locking people up. How can they, in good conscience, believe that our communities are safer with unregistered guns, and presumably more of them? This position is simply bankrupt and immoral. A nurturing vision of a safe community is one where women, children and men do not have to fear gun violence, or any other violence. We want to keep our families safe so let’s have fewer guns around, and if we are to have them let’s certify and register them. Progressive people must present a moral alternative to the gun-toting crowd. We can do it if we try.

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From the National Post: Opposition may keep registry on life support

Posted by cgccanada on November 5, 2009

Don Martin
Posted: November 05, 2009, 10:59 AM by NP Editor

The cagey MP sat back holding his glass of merlot and smirked at my naive assertion that the gun registry was indeed dead.

A private member’s bill killing the billion-dollar registry was endorsed with surprising strength in the House of Commons on Wednesday and is heading off to committee for fine tuning and, in theory, a rubber stamping.

Not so fast, apparently.

“It’s going to the Public Safety committee,” the sly Liberal MP cautioned. “Have you checked out the membership of that committee?”

Um….I’ll get right on it.

Let’s see. It’s chaired by Garry Breitkreuz, a promising sign given the Saskatchewan Conservative MP has been the most tenacious anti-registry fighter throughout its costly history.

Then come the vice-chairs. Two opposition party MPs, both supporting the registry. Uh-oh.

Okay, down to the basic members who will propose amendments or oppose it outright. Yikes. Five anti-registry types. Four supporting it.

Add it up and the 12-member committee is deadlocked at six votes on each side of the issue. But, but, but…. anti-registry chairman Breitkreuz won’t vote unless there’s a tie. And if all the regular members show up and vote their views, the pro-registry side has a 6-5 headlock over committee decision-making. Yikes again.

What all this procedural mumbo-jumbo means is that the public safety committee can, and in this case likely will, rag the puck for the full 60 sitting days they are allowed to debate it. They can even request a 30-day extension, which the pro-registry six-pack will undoubtedly do. They can amend at will, which means the bill might not deliver a definitive death blow when it resurfaces in the Commons next year.

There’s always the prospect the committee will recommend the bill be killed outright, although that would not likely get support in the Commons if yesterday’s voting holds.

All this is to say that, sorry duck hunters of Canada, reports (including my babble) of the gun registry’s imminent demise may be a tad premature.

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