The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Archive for December, 2009

From: NATIONAL POST- Toronto sees big dip in domestic homicides, Dec. 11, Megan O’Toole and Peter Kuitenbrouwer

Posted by cgccanada on December 11, 2009

Toronto’s homicide rate is the lowest in nearly a decade, and police say “iron-clad” domestic violence policies are to credit.
As of last night, there were 59 homicides this year, compared to 70 in 2008 and 84 the year previous. Only two of the 59 cases have been domestic, compared to seven last year, and 10 in 2007.
Staff Inspector Kathryn Martin, the force’s homicide chief, gives much of the credit to measures put in place by Toronto police to combat domestic violence. While shooting deaths have been on the rise in recent years, she says, domestic killings have dropped.
“We’ve had iron-clad policies in place for many years now,” Staff Insp. Martin said, noting a supervisor is required to attend the scene of a domestic incident and put a report in. In the case of a criminal offence, police will make an arrest, she said.
“Typically what happens is, one person’s leaving. We never ever leave that couple alone again,” Staff Insp. Martin said. “So somebody’s leaving, and 99 times out of 100 it’s under arrest, and they get show-caused. They don’t get released.”
The term “show caused” refers to a process in which a person taken into custody is found initially ineligible for release. They are kept in prison pending a show cause hearing, during which a judge determines whether they can be released, and if so under what conditions. The judge can also have the accused remanded into custody pending another court appearance.
The separation period between victim and offender can help defuse the situation, police say.
Staff Insp. Martin says the Toronto force has “a big, broad definition of what a domestic is. So all those murders that used to happen because there was a lack of intervention, aren’t happening. By getting bail conditions on [an offender], so that in two weeks, when the fight would have escalated, he’s not allowed there.”
Sergeant Deborah Vittie, the force’s domestic violence co-ordinator, says an increasing emphasis on public awareness and community education has helped curb domestic killings. Efforts have specifically targeted immigrant communities, where there may be linguistic or cultural barriers to reporting crimes, she said.
The two domestic killings this year both occurred in April. In one case, a Scarborough man was accused in the stabbing death of his wife, Pamela Apoko; the couple’s son allegedly witnessed the fatal act. That same month, a woman’s former boyfriend was charged in the slaying of her new lover.
“We’re hoping in the future a lot of these tragedies can be prevented,” Sgt. Vittie said.
Shelters have continued to admit a steady stream of women and children needing help this year, said Lesley Ackrill, executive manager of Interval House, which provides services for victims of domestic violence. But the decrease in the number of domestic killings is a good sign, Ms. Ackrill noted.
“I think that the work we’re doing is paying off, but at the same time, I don’t want people to think that because it’s gone down, the problem has been solved,” Ms. Ackrill said. “That’s far from true. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Despite the progress on the domestic side, shootings in Toronto have been going the opposite way, Staff Insp. Martin said — “up, up, up.” Of the 59 homicides this year, 36 have been shootings.
“I think that’s just a statement about our culture,” she said. “I remember when I was a young police officer, somebody on the platoon would seize a gun; everybody in the platoon would come in to look at it, because that was a big deal. And now, weseize guns all the time now.”


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From Metro Canada: The gun registry is much more than a symbol

Posted by cgccanada on December 10, 2009

Please send letters to the editors in support of Wendy Cukier’s columns to : , , , , ,

December 10, 2009 5:42 a.m.
Wendy Cukier

This past weekend, groups across the country commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre. Families of the victims mourned their loss and recommitted to defending Canada’s gun control law, which they called a monument to the memory of the victims.
Twenty years ago, a man walked into l’Ecole Polytechnique, separated the men from the women and screaming — you are all a bunch of feminists — killed 14 young women and injured 13 others. His semi-automatic rifle — the Ruger Mini 14 — will soon be easier to get, thanks to Stephen Harper and other federal politicians.
On Nov. 4, the House of Commons passed private member’s Bill C-391, a bill that will eliminate the need to register rifles and shotguns. Nervous opposition politicians spooked by a well-financed, American-style campaign targeting specific MPs backed the Conservatives over the objections of virtually every public safety organization in the country.
In spite of the focus on handguns and urban violence, rifles and shotguns are a substantial proportion of the guns recovered in crime in this country. They are the guns most often used to kill police officers and the guns most often used in domestic violence and suicides, particularly involving youth.
Registration ensures licensed gun owners are held accountable for their firearms. If gun owners are licensed but guns not registered, there is no way to prevent legal gun owners from selling or giving guns to unlicensed and potentially dangerous people.
Opponents of gun control complain about the cost. But seven million guns have been registered. The money has been spent. The only guns that need to be registered going forward are new guns or those being traded. The costs — $3 million a year — pale in comparison to the costs of gun injury and death. And police consult the system thousands of times each day in order to take preventative action.
The law is much more than a symbol. Three hundred fewer people die from gunshots now compared to 1995, when the law passed. Our problem is not just the vocal and well-financed gun lobby. We can only hope that those who wore white ribbons to mark the memory of the women who died Dec. 6, 1989, will now take action.

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From CBC News: Gun control advocates fight ‘misinformation’

Posted by cgccanada on December 9, 2009

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | 3:42 PM ET

CBC News

Twenty years after the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, survivors, victims’ families, police officers and others are fighting what they are calling a campaign of misinformation about the federal long-gun registry. The groups, which also included advocates working on suicide prevention, appealed to the public to support the existing registry in a news conference in Montreal Tuesday. A private member’s bill that would eliminate the requirement to register rifles and shotguns passed first reading in the House of Commons on Nov. 4. The minority Conservative government was able get Bill C-391 approved thanks to the support of some Liberal and NDP back-benchers. Those opposition MPs were swayed by a misleading campaign promoting the bill, says Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control. “I think if you are in Quebec, it is hard to understand what is going on in the other provinces,” said Cukier. “There is a highly motivated and well-resourced gun lobby getting a lot of advice and support from the National Rifle Association in the United States.” The Conservative Party has also invested in a publicity campaign that has put pressure on opposition MPs to support the bill, Cukier said. “People keep talking about the ‘billion-dollar registry’ — which implies to many Canadians that if we eliminate the registration of rifles and shotguns, we’ll somehow save billions of dollars,” she said. “As the police have said, getting rid of the … [registry] will save at most $3 million a year.”

Useful to police

The registry is a good tool for police officers and is used on average 11,000 times a day, said Denis Côté, president of the Quebec Federation of Municipal Police Officers. Côté said he can’t understand the logic of those fighting for its abolition “I go hunting,” he said. “But people that go hunting, they have driver’s licences; they do have to register their ATV; you need a permit to drive a boat. So, how come when it comes to [registering] your firearm, it is so complicated? “It is a privilege to own a firearm.” Sylvie Haviernick’s sister, Maud, was killed in the Dec. 6, 1989, massacre at the École Polytechnique. That day Marc Lépine walked into a classroom at the engineering school and used a .223-calibre Sturm, Ruger rifle to shoot 14 women before turning it on himself. Haviernick said Tuesday that she doesn’t think many Canadians were aware of Bill C-391 until it was adopted. “I was shocked … when I saw the results of the vote,” she said. “But I think that maybe the results forced people to move.” Haviernick said she is hopeful the bill will help reignite the calls for gun control that led to the creation of the gun registry in the wake of the Polytechnique shooting. “It was not a question of [political parties]. It was a question of national consensus,” Haviernick said. “I truly believe that, again, the answer will come from us … the people. “What we need to do is … show what we gained over time and what we risk in the future [by losing the registry].” Bill C-391 now heads to a House of Commons committee for review.

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From: The Canadian Press, December 7, 2009, Grief still raw, 20 years later. Services held in Montreal, around country in memory of slain women

Posted by cgccanada on December 8, 2009

MONTREAL — Jean-Francois Larivee still remembers Maryse Laganiere’s piercing blue eyes the day he met her at the Universite de Montreal in the mid-1980s. Larivee and Laganiere went on to marry and find happiness — until it was brutally shattered on Dec. 6, 1989, when she and 13 other women were gunned down in a murderous rampage at the university’s Ecole polytechnique. “Who knew she would lose her life there four years later?” Larivee said at an emotional ceremony Sunday at the Notre-Dame Basilica attended by about 1,000 people, including survivors of Marc Lepine’s hatred. “I found the strength to survive, to love, through that situation.” Larivee said Laganiere would be proud of the work that has been done over the past 20 years to toughen gun laws since Canada’s worst mass shooting. Donald Turcotte remembers waiting expectantly for more news when he found out that fateful evening about the tragedy. His sister Annie was a student at the engineering school. She turned out to be one of Lepine’s victims after the feminist-hating gunman entered a classroom, ordered the men outside and began mowing down women. “My parents lost their only daughter,” Turcotte told the hushed gathering. “The same pain was lived out in 13 other families.” Earlier in the day, white ribbons fluttered in the breeze and several hundred Montrealers formed a human chain as they remembered the 14 women. Their names were read out at a downtown park and a minute of silence was held in their honour. Many cheered as speakers highlighted the importance of doing everything possible to eliminate violence against women. “It’s a painful, a horrible moment, but at the same time it’s a moment for us to look back and see where we want to go now,” said Alexa Conradi, president of Quebec’s main women’s group. Ceremonies were expected to take place all across the country. Thirteen other people, including nine women, were injured in Lepine’s 20-minute rampage. While the massacre prompted a toughening of Canada’s gun-control laws, Conservative MPs, along with a handful of Liberals and New Democrats, voted in principle last month to kill the long-gun registry. The move sparked an emotional response in Quebec as Montreal’s police chief, survivors of the massacre and a gun victim’s mother urged politicians to support the registry. The head of the Coalition for Gun Control said Sunday the fight to preserve the registry will continue. “We’re down, we’re not out,” said Wendy Cukier. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement it is important for Canadians to remain committed to eliminating violence against women. “On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 bright, talented, young women were murdered at l’Ecole polytechnique de Montreal in one of the most tragic acts of violence against women in our country’s history,” Harper said. “Their deaths galvanized the need to end violence against women in the hearts and minds of Canadians. “Today, on Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, we should all take time to remember and reaffirm our commitment to continue working to protect the lives, dignity and equality of all women.”

Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on From: The Canadian Press, December 7, 2009, Grief still raw, 20 years later. Services held in Montreal, around country in memory of slain women

Le registre des armes à feu menacé Le SPVM s’oppose au projet de loi C-391

Posted by cgccanada on December 7, 2009

Agence QMI  Frédéric Pepin
06/12/2009 18h14

Au moment où se déroulaient les cérémonies de commémoration de la tuerie de Polytechnique à Montréal, le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) réitère son appui au registre des armes à feu et exige des élus fédéraux la renonciation du projet de loi C-391.
C’est par voie de communiqué que le corps policier a tenu à rappeler la nécessité de maintenir en vigueur tous les éléments du registre.
Ce projet de loi, adopté en deuxième lecture par la Chambre des communes il y a un mois, a pour but de lever l’obligation d’enregistrer les carabines (y compris la Ruger Mini 14 utilisée par Marc Lépine) et les fusils de chasse. Il aurait aussi pour effet de supprimer quelque 8 millions de dossiers d’armes de chasse du registre.
«Le contrôle des armes à feu fait partie de toute stratégie intégrée pour lutter efficacement contre les crimes violents, soutient le SPVM. La restriction de la portée actuelle du registre proposée par le projet de loi C-391 préoccupe grandement le SPVM.»
Contre l’abolition du registre
Le Devoir publiait jeudi une lettre ouverte rédigée par trois diplômés de l’École polytechnique, dont Nathalie Provost, qui fut blessée lors de la fusillade, et Heidi Rathjen, qui a milité pour le contrôle des armes à feu.
«Le lobby des armes fait preuve d’une détermination redoutable et travaille activement pour influencer les politiciens», peut-on y lire.
«Mais il n’est pas trop tard. Nous demandons à tous les citoyens préoccupés par la violence de communiquer avec leur député fédéral et d’exiger qu’il ou elle accorde la priorité à la sécurité publique plutôt qu’aux intérêts étroits du lobby des armes.»
Selon le SPVM, entre 73 et 81 % des policiers canadiens ont recours au registre des armes à feu, ce qui correspond à plus de 10 000 consultations par jour.
De 1995 à 2005, les décès et les blessures par balle sont passés de 1125 à 818 et les homicides par armes d’épaule ont diminué de près de 50%.

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It’s been 20 Years Since the Montreal Massacre

Posted by cgccanada on December 6, 2009

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From the Toronto Star: Lessons of the Montreal Massacre

Posted by cgccanada on December 5, 2009

“We are not feminists.”

A young, incredulous Nathalie Provost said those words to Marc Lépine 20 years ago Sunday. It was a bid to save her and her fellow students’ lives – the women Lépine had isolated in a university classroom before opening fire on them with a semi-automatic hunting rifle.

Provost was one of the lucky four who survived. “At the time, I thought to be a feminist meant you had to be militant,” says Provost, who today is overworked and feeling skittish as the anniversary approaches. She was the young woman who, from her hospital bed a couple days later, urged Canadian girls to not be frightened by the event and to pursue engineering careers. She was also my introduction to feminism in life, not just theory. And to the concept that the personal is political.

“I realized many years later that in my life and actions, of course I was a feminist. I was a woman studying engineering and I held my head up.”

They are older, the survivors of Dec. 6. Lines leak from their eyes. They find grey hairs. And many, like Provost, have children of their own. Daughters.

“They know. They’ve always known that when she was young, Maman was injured by a gun,” says Provost, 43, over the phone from her office in Montreal. After the shooting, she finished her degree in mechanical engineering – even stayed an extra year to do her master’s. She’s now the director of a strategic planning department in the Quebec government. She’s the boss. She’s also the mother of four children – two boys, two girls, ages 7 to 14. She’s a busy woman.

“They’ve built the story as they grew, more and more. Maybe some time they will ask me to explain why (Lépine did it). I will be ready and they will be ready.”

Columbine. Dawson College. Virginia Tech. There’ve been so many school massacres since Dec. 6, 1989, we’ve grown disturbingly used to them. The Montreal Massacre was different. Lépine had a specific target: women.

He blamed them for his own failures. His suicide note listed other women he’d set in his sights: a politician, a union leader, Quebec’s first female firefighter and police captain, among others. He’d settled for easier targets – the young women at Université de Montréal’s engineering school, who had the audacity to study for careers that still today are the domain of men.

In 20 minutes, he shot or stabbed 27 people, mostly women, before shooting himself. Fourteen of his victims died. All of them were women.

It was an event that changed the lives of students at school, and women around the country. We all had posters of those women on our walls. We went to commemorations. We walked the streets in Take Back the Night marches. We felt exposed to a hatred many of us hadn’t realized was festering – over the fact that we could work too, that we could study men’s subjects, that we could be good at it.

If you are one of those young women who says you aren’t a feminist, you haven’t heard this story. Or you have forgotten. We’ve all grown complacent.

Even back then, when there were only 18 women to every 100 men at the “Poly” (École Polytechnique), the women felt they’d won the fight.

“The atmosphere at school was totally egalitarian. It was a wonderful place for women. It was easy for people to think feminism was passé. Problem solved,” says Heidi Rathjen. Remember her? She was the student who organized the memorial and helped launch the petition for gun control. The group gathered 560,000 signatures by fax and letter. A year later, when she saw Parliament wasn’t going to change the law, she left her civil engineering job and got an office at the funeral home where most of her dead classmates had been put into caskets. The female funeral home owner also gave her a hefty bursary to continue the campaign.

She has a 5-year-old daughter now – too young to learn about what happened, she says. “She’s going to have a role model. Someone who will not take things sitting down. I dedicated a good part of my life to fight back, to trying to have something good come out of such a horrible tragedy. I suspect that’s what I’ll tell her. `You have to fight back and try to make the world a better place.'”

You might think of them next time your kids want to play with toy guns. “They are not allowed in my house,” says Alain Perreault, the former student council president who spoke at the funeral for nine of the women. He’s now the father of two boys. “Violent video games aren’t allowed because of what happened to me. There’s no way I can accept this.”

After graduating, Perreault moved to Europe. But he was drawn back to the Poly nine years ago. He works there helping researchers find markets for their inventions. Most days, Perreault walks by the dark stone memorial to the 14 women Lépine killed, down the halls where he stalked them, the cafeteria, the two classrooms …

“It’s very useful to see life in the school, a lot of enthusiasm. People are building their lives here,” says Perreault, who again will speak at a memorial in Montreal on Sunday. “It’s hopeful to work in the environment, to see life after this tragedy.”

Much has changed. Little has changed. Twenty years ago, 18 per cent of the student population were women. Today, they make up 21.4 per cent.

Kim Campbell, then a minister of state, went on to become – very briefly – the country’s first woman Prime Minister. Today, women make up a paltry fifth of the House of Commons. The Harper government slashed funding for women’s rights groups.

We still make less than men, for working the same jobs.

Other than in Quebec, we still don’t have universal daycare.

And the gun control law Rathjen and Ryerson professor Wendy Cukier worked six years to see introduced is now being dismantled. Last month, Parliament voted to shut down the gun registry. (The bill still has to pass third reading.) So while Lépine might not have gotten a licence today, he could have picked up an unregistered gun from a friend. Without the registry, it would likely never be tracked back to the original owner.

Most women who are murdered are killed by their husbands, lovers or exes. Many are killed in rages – there is a fight; the man finds his hunting gun. Since the registry was created, the number of women killed with shotguns has fallen every year. This too is a feminist issue.

Provost doesn’t worry about the safety of her little girls, any more than you or I do. One of her daughters, she thinks, will work with people. The younger one is into gymnastics. She tells them they can be whatever they want to be. Doctors, lawyers, teachers.

“Whatever makes them happy, that allows them to express their plus beaux talents (most beautiful talents),” she says. “But if they like science, solving problems and working in teams, they should go into engineering.”

These things shouldn’t be taken for granted either. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, social workers. Tomorrow, I’ll remind my daughter that she can be anything she wants to be. Even an engineer.

You should, too.

There’s a candlelight vigil Sunday at 6 p.m. on the University of Toronto’s Philosopher’s Walk. Bring a candle and a rose. For more information, see

Catherine Porter’s column appears on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. She can be reached at

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Par: Le Devoir, 4 décembre 2009, Registre des armes à feu – Libre-service à la GRC. Guillaume Bourgault-Côté

Posted by cgccanada on December 4, 2009

Ottawa — Après les guichets de supermarché et les pompes à essence, voici l’information libre-service. La Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC) refuse désormais de répondre verbalement à toute question des médias concernant le registre des armes à feu: les demandes sont systématiquement renvoyées au site Internet.  C’est ce que Le Devoir a pu constater dans les derniers jours. Une demande d’entrevue téléphonique pour une mise en contexte d’informations factuelles sur le registre des armes à feu a été refusée… parce qu’il est interdit au personnel de discuter du sujet, a-t-on expliqué. Les questions portaient sur des détails techniques liés au registre et ne comportaient aucun enjeu politique.Selon les explications d’une relationniste, «toute l’information est disponible sur Internet». Des liens nous dirigent vers le site de l’organisme, effectivement assez complet.Mais on comprend implicitement que le site Internet sert aussi à éliminer les interventions orales sur un sujet qui demeure délicat à Ottawa. «On ne peut répondre à aucune question sur le registre», explique-t-on poliment à la salle de presse téléphonique.Interrogée sur l’utilité d’un service de presse payé par des fonds publics réduit à diriger toutes les demandes d’information vers un simple site
Internet, l’agente d’information n’a pu que reformuler l’interdiction de répondre aux questions touchant de près ou de loin le registre. Il ne fut pas possible non plus de savoir à qui une plainte pouvait ê re déposée concernant cette politique, puisqu’il s’agissait d’une
question liée au registre des armes à feu…Au cabinet du ministre de la Sécurité publique, on nie catégoriquement être à l’origine de la directive. Des représentants du ministre Peter Van Loan cherchaient en après-midi la source de cette politique. Les quelques explications fournies par la GRC font quant à elles valoir que le site Internet de l’organisme est complet et qu’il a été spécialement créé pour répondre virtuellement à toutes les questions.Le gouvernement conservateur cherche depuis 2006 à démanteler le registre des armes à feu, créé en 1995 par le gouvernement Chrétien dans la foulée de la tuerie de Polytechnique. Deux projets de loi visant le démantèlement du registre sont actuellement à l’étude à Ottawa. Le Sénat se penche depuis avril
sur le projet S-5, alors que la Chambre des communes a adopté en novembre en deuxième lecture le projet de loi C-391. Ce dernier devra être débattu en comité parlementaire avant de revenir en Chambre pour une possible adoption en troisième lecture.En théorie, les trois partis d’opposition sont opposés à l’abolition du registre. Mais comme le projet C-391 a été introduit par une députée et non pas par le gouvernement, les libéraux et les néo-démocrates n’ont pas imposé deligne de parti à leur caucus. Au t otal, 20 députés de l’opposition ont donc appuyé le projet de la députée conservatrice le 4 novembre. La GRC gère officiellement le registre depuis mai 2006. Jusqu’alors, le Centre canadien des armes à feu — un organisme indépendant — s’occupait de la gestion.

Posted in Canadian gun control, Current Events | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Par: Le Devoir, 4 décembre 2009, Registre des armes à feu – Libre-service à la GRC. Guillaume Bourgault-Côté

From the Vancouver Observer, December 2, 2009, Why December 6th Still Matters

Posted by cgccanada on December 3, 2009


I was just four years old on December 6th, 1989 when 14 women were gunned down at L’École Polytechnique de Montreal. They were targeted because they were women who dared to pursue the “male” occupation of engineering. In 1991 then Member of Parliament for New Westminster-Burnaby Dawn Black introduced the Private Member’s Bill that led to Canada’s recognizing December 6th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. I don’t remember the shootings so I can understand why some people my age tend to ignore December 6th and the observances that go with it. Even among people who remember the Montreal Massacre there can be a feeling that we don’t need to worry so much about taking action, that somehow the passage of 20 years has seen enough advances in equality to make violence a thing of the past. I don’t remember December 6th, 1989, but I think about my friends now, too many of whom have experienced harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, and rape. I think about the 12 women shot at a Pittsburgh gym just a few months ago by a man whose blog promoted hatred towards the women who wouldn’t date him, and how hard feminists have been fighting to have the incident seen as an act of misogynist violence. 20 years after the Montreal Massacre women on campuses in Canada still face the threat of violence, although sometimes in more subtle forms. And the families of the women, mainly Aboriginal, who’ve disappeared on BC’s “Highway of Tears” since 1969 are still waiting for answers about their daughters. I think about our governments. As we go into December 6th, our federal government is trying to scrap the long gun registry even as 88% of women killed by spouses in Canada are shot with these weapons. And while our provincial government has temporarily restored funding to domestic violence programs, it’s anticipated they’ll again be on the chopping block next year. Rosemary Brown, the first black woman elected to a parliamentary body in Canada, once said: “Fighting for equality is like washing the dishes. You’ve got to keep on it every single day.” December 6th is a time to remember but also a time to take action, to roll up your sleeves and take a stand against violence against women. 20 years have passed, but the fight is just as crucial now. We need to support our battered women’s shelters and women’s centres, who help empower women and assist them to leave violent situations. We need to support a robust justice system and strong preventative efforts to deal with violence against women. And we need to speak out and demand action from our governments. It was public outcry a few months ago that caused the provincial government to reverse announced funding cuts for innovative programs like the New Westminster Domestic Violence Response Team. If we work together to call for action we can make a difference. So even if you can’t make it to one of the December 6th vigils and meetings around Vancouver, take a moment of silence somewhere in your day to remember the 14 women killed in Montreal and all other women who have experienced or died as a result of gender-based violence. And consider what you can do to help break the silence.

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From CBC: Montreal Massacre reminds us why we need gun registry

Posted by cgccanada on December 1, 2009

Last Updated: Friday, November 27, 2009 | 4:45 PM ET
By Heather Mallick, special to CBC News

Next Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, a day that will live forever in hurt.
On Dec. 6, 1989, a terrible and damaged man walked into a class at École Polytechnique with a .223-calibre rifle, ordered the men out of the room and began a march through the building that left 14 women dead and another 10 women and four men injured.
I could here a tale unfold to harrow up your soul and freeze your blood. Instead, I will direct you to the’s immaculate archive of news about that hideous day and its aftermath. It’s painful to watch, but it’s worthwhile for parents. For me, it’s a sad irony because in those two decades, the young women in my family grew up, went to university and entered a work world that is still a gauntlet of knives for women. My girls did everything that would have been done by the hopeful women murdered by Marc Lépine. (I worry that the parents of the dead will read this, and that sentence will hurt them. I apologize.)
Lépine used a Ruger Mini-14, the kind of gun normally used by hunters to kill gophers, groundhogs and rabbits. It’s a comfortable gun, lightweight with little recoil, and it’s semi-automatic, which means it fires without complications every time you pull the trigger (especially effective with a larger magazine of 20 bullets). It’s very accurate to begin with, but in a classroom, experts say, you couldn’t miss if you tried. And Lépine, a hater of all women, especially police officers and prominent successful women, did not.
After the Montreal Massacre, the federal government set up a gun registry. I have just re-read Dave Cullen’s recent book, Columbine, and when I read about how the U.S. has repeatedly made guns even easier to buy after that 1999 school shooting and the more than 80 in the United States since then, I feel proud of Canada.
The registry requires only this: If you buy or own a gun — and this includes rifles used by farmers and hunters, firing range enthusiasts, etc. — it must be registered. It won’t be confiscated, but law enforcement officials will know you have it. Is this so damaging to one’s own personal notion of one’s manhood?
There’s no reason to be ashamed of owning a rifle if you live rurally and make rural excursions, and no reason to object to registering your gun the same way you register your car, house, boat, dog and cat. You often register major purchases in case they turn out to be faulty. The city inspects your house to make sure it’s reliably built, your life insurer knows your health status, your home insurer prowls around, and doctors regularly probe your cavities and press your tender areas for signs of cancer.
Yes, Canada does its best to keep the country safe and organized. So this anniversary is an odd time for a small but loud rural minority to try to kill the long-gun portion of the registry. They may get their way, and that will be Canada’s means of marking 20 years since the killings.

May save a police officer’s life
The Conservatives hate the registry. But hate is a feeling. Here are the facts. The RCMP website states that there are 7.5 million licensed guns in Canada. Police agencies find the registry extremely useful, given that any time an officer goes out on a call, she or he is hypothetically in danger. In 2009, police made an average 10,800 calls a day to find out registry information.
As Canadians, we have both rights and responsibilities. Isn’t it a decent citizen’s responsibility to make a paperwork concession that may help save the life of a police officer or an abused wife? It’s the least our country asks of us.
As Stephen Hume wrote this month in the Vancouver Sun, the loud, endlessly complaining rural minority doesn’t understand the facts about gun deaths.
“Studies in both the U.S. and Canada in fact show that rates of domestic violence are comparable in urban and rural settings,” he writes. “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.”
Here’s another sad stat: 74 per cent of firearms recovered from suicides and suicide attempts from 1974 to 1997 were unrestricted rifles and shotguns (the easiest-to-possess category of the three categories of firearms, although all require registration). One of the reasons men commit suicide more than women is that they prefer guns, which will kill you flat out. Women do chancier things; pills don’t always work.
I don’t want depressed people to have an easy means of suicide at hand, and this is one of the conditions that the gun registry questionnaire is designed to reveal.
If Stephen Harper gets his majority government, he will certainly be honest enough — which he isn’t now — to tell you that Canadian life will change radically. The gun registry is as fragile as abortion rights. The fight over registering long guns has always seemed to me to be a symptom of status anxiety: older rural men feeling they don’t rate in Canada, and so they will make the city folk and the Easterners cave.
Of course you rate! We are all Canadians. It’s a symptom of a fractured Canada and a failure of the once-centralized government that held us together in all our disagreements.

‘That I am a woman’

And we return to the women in the classroom on that terrible day.
“Fragile.” This is how Nathalie Provost, shot by Lépine, described herself to the CBC’s Francine Pelletier five years after the bloodbath. She was working as an engineer outside Montreal.
“What did you learn?” Pelletier asked.
“That I am a woman. I cannot ignore that fact. I realize that I am fragile. I always thought that I was tough. After, I realized that I was very fragile, emotionally, physically, even psychologically.”
A lot of women feel this way now, as the recession grabs us like a python and squeezes. But so do a lot of men. Couldn’t we look out for each other and find some common ground in the fight for the common good? Could gun-owners fill out a simple form with a good heart?
Here’s a spur: Think of those 14 women in their cold graves and the 20 years we’ve had that they didn’t.

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