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A woman’s worth: Long-gun registry essential to reducing violence against women

Posted by cgccanada on October 5, 2010

Canadian women are among those who have the most to lose if the long gun registry is scrapped, say leaders of women’s sheltering organizations from across the country. Representatives from the provincial and territorial associations of women’s shelters, which together represent over 350 shelters from coast to coast, are collectively hoping to bring attention to the role that long guns play in cases of violence against women; a topic that they feel has been sorely missing from current discussions surrounding the potential abolition of the registry.

“We are dismayed by the lack of coverage that this side of the debate is getting,” says Barbara McInerney, director of Kaushee’s Place, Yukon Women’s Transition Home “and surprised given the fact that the Montreal Massacre, in which 14 women were murdered by a gunman wielding a semi-automatic Ruger Mini 15, one of the many weapons which would go untracked if the registry were scrapped, was a major spur to the passing of Firearms Act in 1995.”

There is overwhelming evidence to show that firearms, and in particular long guns, pose a significant threat to women in domestic violence situations, and that deregulation would only exacerbate this problem. The Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner lists access to firearms as the fifth highest risk factor that predicts whether a woman will die in domestic violence situations.[1] Contrary to popular belief, the firearms being used in these situations are more often than not long guns, not handguns. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics states that 72% of gun-related spousal homicides are committed with a shotgun or rifle.[2] The registry alerts police when there are guns involved in domestic violence cases, allowing these weapons to be removed before the situation escalates, say the reps. Screening processes also help get guns away from high risk individuals who would otherwise have unregulated access to them. Take this away, they continue, and more tragedies will occur.

This argument is supported by a 2009 Statistics Canada Report on Family Violence that showed that gun-related spousal homicide has decreased considerably since the implementation of the Firearms Act in 1995, from 27 cases in 1996 to 9 in 2007.[3] The Alberta Center for Injury Control & Research summed up the evidence when they stated that “women in situations of domestic violence are at particular risk of injury or death by long guns in the hands of spouses. Saving women from death at the hands of their intimate partner is a key benefit of the long gun registry.”[4]

In many cases, the mere presence of a firearm in the home is enough to instill fear and intimidate. A study done in eastern Canada on family violence in rural settings found that two thirds of the female respondents indicated that there were firearms in their homes, and said that knowing about the firearms made them more fearful for their safety and well-being. Women were more likely to express concern for their safety when the firearms weren’t registered or safely stored.[5]

Domestic violence related homicides are disproportionately higher in these rural and western communities, where long gun ownership is most prevalent.[6] These are notably the very communities where opposition to gun control and registration is highest. MP’s who would vote to abolish the registry say they are representing their constituents, but they are only representing those who are loudest. They don’t represent those who are silenced out of fear of retribution or out of shame. These women are not safe to speak publically and it is up to the rest of us to speak for them.

Barbara McInerney
Executive Director
Yukon Status of Women Council

http://yukonstatusofwomencouncil.blogspot.com/
——————————————————————————————————————–

[1] Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner (2002), The Toronto Star, 1 April 2004, p. A8

[2] 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

[3] Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey. Family Violence in Canada: A statistical Profile, 2009, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2009000/part-partie5-eng.htm

[4] Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. Factum. Alberta Court of Appeal, July (1997).

[5] Doherty, D. & Hornosty, J, “Exploring the Links: Firearms, Family Vilence and Animal Abuse in Rural Communities,” Fredericton, ND: University of New Brunswick Family Violence on the Farm and in Rural Communities Project, 2007.

[6] Family vilence Coordination Unit, Department for Victorian Communities of Melbourne, Victoria. 2007. Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management, p. 27.

Barbara McInerney

Executive Director


[1] Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner (2002), The Toronto Star, 1 April 2004, p. A8

[2] 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

[3] Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey. Family Violence in Canada: A statistical Profile, 2009, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2009000/part-partie5-eng.htm

[4] Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. Factum. Alberta Court of Appeal, July (1997).

[5] Doherty, D. & Hornosty, J, “Exploring the Links: Firearms, Family Vilence and Animal Abuse in Rural Communities,” Fredericton, ND: University of New Brunswick Family Violence on the Farm and in Rural Communities Project, 2007.

[6] Family vilence Coordination Unit, Department for Victorian Communities of Melbourne, Victoria. 2007. Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management, p. 27.

Barbara McInerney

Executive Director

[1] Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner (2002), The Toronto Star, 1 April 2004, p. A8

[2] 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

[3] Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey. Family Violence in Canada: A statistical Profile, 2009, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2009000/part-partie5-eng.htm

[4] Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. Factum. Alberta Court of Appeal, July (1997).

[5] Doherty, D. & Hornosty, J, “Exploring the Links: Firearms, Family Vilence and Animal Abuse in Rural Communities,” Fredericton, ND: University of New Brunswick Family Violence on the Farm and in Rural Communities Project, 2007.

[6] Family vilence Coordination Unit, Department for Victorian Communities of Melbourne, Victoria. 2007. Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management, p. 27.

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Fewer spousal homicides with long guns

Posted by cgccanada on September 13, 2010

Edmonton Journal, September 13, 2010

Re: “Chiefs’ case for long-gun registry fails; Flimsy evidence substantiates front-line cops’ vote to scrap it,” by Lorne Gunter, Aug. 29. We are members of the YWCA, the nation’s oldest and largest women’s service organization.  YWCA Canada is the country’s largest provider of shelter to women and children fleeing violence.  Each year more than 100,000 women and children leave their homes in Canada for violence against women shelters.  Many of them come through the doors of the 31 shelters operated by YWCAs across Canada.  Lorne Gunter is looking for evidence of the long-gun registry’s effectiveness.  In terms of violence perpetrated  against women, long guns are the most common type of firearm used in spousal homicides.  There has been a continuing decline in spousal homicides committed with rifles and shotguns, coincident with increasing use of the long-gun registry by Canadian police services. Over the past decade, 71 per cent of firearm spousal homicides involved rifles and shotguns. Only 24 per cent involved a handgun.  While spousal homicides with rifles and shotguns have decreased, spousal homicides by all other means have not.  The average number of women killed annually by their spouses without using a rifle or shotgun between 1995-98 was 52, the same figure for 2001-04 was 56 (Statistics Canada).  While there is much to criticize in how the registry was developed, we agree with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: the registry has made Canada a safer country.

Rheanna Sand, President
Julianna Charchun, Vice-President
YWCA Edmonton Board of Directors

Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Fewer+spousal+homicides+with+long+guns/3515902/story.html#ixzz0zPxTL8Nb

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Gun control a peace issue

Posted by cgccanada on September 9, 2010

By Mae Popoff, The StarPhoenix September 9, 2010

Three national police associations — The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Police Boards — want to maintain the long gun registry.

The CBC website quotes Charles Momy, president of the Canadian Police Association that represents rank-and-file officers, as saying: “This should not be about us versus them. Or rural versus urban, or even police versus politicians.

“The firearms registry represents a valuable tool in assisting police in doing their job. It is a valuable tool, which has significant preventative and investigative value in keeping our communities safe.”

Gun control is a peace issue, because effective gun control leads to a reduction in homicides and in personal injury to the innocent.

The Saskatoon Peace Coalition supports the police and calls on Stephen Harper’s government to maintain the long gun registry. We ask our local MPs — Brad Trost, Lynne Yelich, Kelly Block and Maurice Vellacott — to do the right thing by voting against Bill C-391 when it is brought back to the House of Commons.

Mae Popoff
Advocacy co-ordinator
Saskatoon Peace Coalition

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/control+peace+issue/3498842/story.html#ixzz0z4VPjWrd

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The gun registry and ignorance

Posted by cgccanada on September 8, 2010

Times Colonist, August 27, 2010

The government’s approach to the gun registry helps explain the Conservatives’ failure to win enough voters to form a majority government. Leave aside, for a moment, the core question of whether the registry should be retained or abolished.

MPs are to make a decision on that on Sept. 22. With the vote expected to be close, they should be seeking — and the government providing — all the information needed to make a smart, informed choice.

Instead, the Conservatives are sitting on a Canadian firearms program evaluation completed by the RCMP in February. At a May hearing of the Commons’ public safety committee, senior deputy RCMP commissioner Bill Sweeney said the report “was extremely positive” and should be released.

Not necessary, says the government. “Canadians don’t need another report to know that the long-gun registry is very efficient at harassing law-abiding farmers and outdoors enthusiasts, while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars,” a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told the Toronto Star. “They don’t need another report to know that the registry does nothing to prevent crime.”

It’s a trite, wrong and dangerous response.

Trite, because the government has not even updated its talking points since it suppressed another positive report until after a preliminary vote last November. The comments were literally identical.

Wrong, because Canadians — aside from those on both sides of the debate whose minds are closed — do need useful information to help assess the costs and benefits of the gun registry.

And dangerous because of its underlying premise that ignorance is to be celebrated. The notion that prejudice or ideology should drive decisions while facts are ignored is extremely troubling.

There is room for debate on the issue. Any time the state asks for information that affects privacy, the public should ensure the program is necessary. And although the costs of maintaining the registry are small — about $4 million a year — all expenditures should be justified.

On balance, both the intrusion and the costs are easily justified. Obtaining the required licence and providing the information for the registry is not onerous. And the information is used about 14,000 times a day by police forces across Canada and about 2,500 times a day by police in B.C.

That’s why the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has campaigned against the move to kill the registry. The chiefs say eliminating it would make it harder to fight crime, reduce public safety and put officers’ lives at risk. The Canadian Police Association, which represents front-line officers across the country, also supports the registry.

Their interest in maintaining the registry is understandable. An officer serving a warrant or investigating a dispute at a home has the ability to check for the presence of registered weapons — and learn how many and of what types — and take those factors into account. Stolen weapons can be traced back to their original owner, helping police solve crimes.

Criminals likely won’t register guns. But that allows police to seize unregistered weapons from those people.

Rifles and shotguns are useful tools. Some seven million firearms are registered in Canada (920,000 in B.C.).

But the registry doesn’t prevent people from owning weapons. It simply places them on a par with cars, which we all register without complaint.

This should not be a matter of ideology. The gun registry makes Canada a safer place for everyone — especially police officers. It should not be killed.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/registry+ignorance/3449557/story.html?cid=megadrop_story#ixzz0ywiup48x

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Taking Aim

Posted by cgccanada on August 30, 2010

The Telegram, August 27, 2010

If nothing else, the debate is getting more interesting. And from the outside, if it wasn’t such an important issue, it would be limping towards tragic comedy.

As the leadup to a vote on a private member’s bill on Canada’s long-gun registry gets closer and closer, more interesting information keeps trickling out — and then is promptly derided by those who wish to see the registry disappear.

The CBC reported that they have obtained the results of a federal report on the registry, a report that has been in the federal government’s hands since February.

The 40-page report, done by the RCMP and outside auditors, says the registry is cost-effective, efficient and valuable to police.

Not only that, it says the costs to continue administering the program are between $1.1 million to $3.6 million per year.

The CBC quoted the report as saying “The program, as a whole, is an important tool for law enforcement. It also serves to increase accountability of firearm owners for their firearms. … Overall the program is cost effective in reducing firearms related crime and promoting public safety through universal licensing of firearm owners and registration of firearms.”

The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, which supports keeping the registry, has argued the report should be made public before the parliamentary vote.

Opponents have said the RCMP can’t be trusted to analyze the success or value of the registry — in fact, some critics have gone so far as to suggest that the RCMP can’t be trusted about anything.

For its part, the RCMP has only said the report is still being translated into French, and isn’t ready for release. That’s an answer with its own internal hilarity, given that the same force just had to defend itself against charges of political interference after the head of the registry — and an outspoken supporter of the registry — was transferred from his duties because RCMP bosses decided now was an urgent time for that officer to learn … French.

Tory MP Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to dissolve the registry will actually face a vote in the House of Commons in September. It’s yet another step in a concerted effort to rid the country of one part of the firearms regulations system, a battle that’s regularly cast as a case of urban politicians not understanding the lives of rural Canadians.

For months now, editorial page editors have seen a constant flow of interesting letters to the editor: succinct, on-point letters from “individual rural Canadians” that remarkably, use exactly the same talking points against the long-gun registry and sometimes the same sentences. They are sent by letter-writers who magically are able to obtain the same collection of e-mail addresses for every single newspaper in Canada, often with those newspapers in the same order.

Overall, the message seems to be that a vast majority of those on either side have long since made up their minds, and are now ready to use whatever means necessary to reach their own ends.

There are dirty tricks enough for everyone in this little struggle for public opinion, and very little is what it seems.

But it should be very simple: if you have to register a car or boat or airplane, why shouldn’t you have to register a weapon? Somewhere, common sense seems to have been completely lost.

http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Editorial/2010-08-27/article-1702777/Taking-aim/1

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Keep the long gun registry, Mr. McColeman

Posted by cgccanada on August 9, 2010

By Pat Kawamoto, The Brantford Expositor, August 7, 2010

Contrary to Brant MP Phil McColeman’s recent article on ending the long gun registry, not all Canadians are fed up with paying for it.

While the initial cost to implement the registry was high, police associations confirm that it is now controlled by the RCMP and costs this country a reasonable $4.1 million per year to run.

Also, while McColeman’s article iimplies that police chiefs and officers do not support the long gun registry, it should be noted that all of the major Canadian organizations representing police support the registry -including The Canadian Police Association, representing 41,000 police officers in Canada and The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs.

Additionally, Ontario’s Attorney General, public health organizations, labour organizations, social organizations, women’s safety experts and many others support the long-gun registry.

In fact, the parliamentary standing committee on public safety and national security, which McColeman acknowledges he is a part of, recommended to the House of Commons in its latest report that the government should keep the long-gun registry as it is a tool “…that promotes and enhances public security and the safety of Canadian police officers.”

Here’s what the experts are saying (visit http://www.guncontrol.cafor more information) and what McColeman’s article didn’t tell you:

— As of 2009, 111,533 firearms were seized by police for public safety reasons. Of those 87,893 or 78.8% were long guns;

— Of the 16 police officer shooting deaths in Canada since 1998, 14 were the result of long guns.

— Police across Canada access the long gun registry about 11,000 times a day, or more than four million times a year. Of those inquiries, more than 2,800 a day, or one million a year, directly involve community safety issues.

— Between 1974 and 2008, 40,000 long guns were stolen from Canadian residences and 1.85 million long guns changed hands in Canada since 2006. Registering long guns holds owners accountable for the safe storage of their firearms, for reporting lost or stolen guns and reduces the chances that legally owned guns will be diverted to unlicensed owners.

— On average, one in three women killed by their husbands is shot -88% of them with legally owned rifles and shotguns.

— When firearms are available, domestic homicides are more likely to involve multiple victims and end in suicide.

— Northern Ontario communities have higher rates of long gun ownership and gun-related injuries than the provincial average.

— Contrary to popular belief, it is relatively easy to register a long gun and it is free.

McColeman states in his article that the Conservatives support the registration of prohibited and restricted weapons but not the registration of long guns.

His argument for this is that the long gun registry is ineffective as criminals do not register their guns. If criminals do not register their long guns, why would they register their prohibited and restricted weapons?

Where is the logic in supporting one registry over another?

In closing, keep the long gun registry, Mr. McColeman — don’t waste the significant tax dollars already spent and please help protect our families and communities.

Pat Kawamoto was born and raised in Brantford and is a career banker currently working as an independent financial planner. She is a strong believer in giving back to both the local communities in which we live and the broader global communities with which we share our humanity.

http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2702500

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Gun registry duel could take Stephen Harper to brink of majority

Posted by cgccanada on August 7, 2010

By Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star, July 7, 2010

MONTREAL – With Parliament adjourned for the summer, a major skirmish in the Conservative battle for a governing majority has moved to 20 Opposition ridings spread across rural and Northern Canada.

They are the ridings of eight Liberals and 12 New Democrats who voted against the long gun registry in a House of Commons vote last fall.

At the time, their support allowed a Conservative private member’s bill designed to abolish the registry to be approved in principle by 164 to 137 votes.

The final vote is to be held in late September. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff expects the Liberals who sided with the Conservatives to reverse themselves on that vote.

Jack Layton has not issued similar instructions to his caucus but the NDP has been under intense pressure from gun control advocates to ensure that it does not play the supporting role in the registry’s demise.

Conservative strategists see the debate is a win-win and they have no objections in dragging it out to the fall.

If the government succeeds in eliminating the registry with the help of the NDP, it will have fulfilled an iconic promise to its core base.

Such a result would also empower Ignatieff to go after Layton on gun control in the next election.

From the Conservative standpoint, time spent by the Liberals and the NDP on fighting each other is time well spent.

But if the gun registry bill dies at the hand of a concerted Opposition barrage instead, that lost battle will be put to use in the fight for a Conservative majority. That is very much a war of attrition that is being fought on a seat-by-seat basis.

Some of the ridings held by the Liberals who have been asked to switch their votes are safer than others. In 2008, Scott Simms and Todd Russell won their Newfoundland-and-Labrador ridings with 70 per cent of the vote.

The other six ridings could be a different proposition. In the last election, the Conservatives came in second in every one of them and even a solid margin of victory is not always a guarantee of repeat success.

In the riding of Yukon for instance, Liberal Larry Bagnall had a 13-point lead on his Conservative opponent in 2008. But the gun registry has always been controversial in the North and it is a region where party labels tend to matter less than in other areas of the country.

In the last election, the Conservatives were serious contenders in four of the ridings held by anti-gun-registry New Democrats, coming a close or a respectable second in Welland, Western Arctic, Elmwood-Transcona and Skeena.

Taken together, the Opposition seats at play on the gun registry debate could bring the Conservatives to the doorstep of a governing majority.

That presumes that there are no government seats to be lost over the issue. And yet on paper at least there are sound reasons why the government rather than the Opposition should be on the defensive.

The registry is popular with the police and it enjoys significant support in urban areas — including the suburban belts of Toronto and Vancouver, where the Conservatives have made significant inroads since 2006.

But it is harder to launch single-issue trench wars in urban areas — where density makes resonance harder to achieve — than in rural ones.

And then there is the Liberal attitude to fighting the government.

Ignatieff’s party still seems to approach campaigns as if their outcome were determined by a single grand duel between two generals crossing swords on a central battlefield.

At a time when the vote can split anywhere from three to five ways along regional fault lines, that is like bringing a suit of armour to a jungle war.

Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears in the Toronto Star every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
http://www.thestar.com/mobile/news/canada/article/832686–hebert-gun-registry-duel-could-take-stephen-harper-to-brink-of-majority

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Report: Domestic deaths have a number of common links

Posted by cgccanada on June 23, 2010

By April Cunningham, Telegraph-Journal, June 22, 2010

SAINT JOHN – Women in New Brunswick are more likely to be killed by their intimate partner if they are in a common-law relationship, there are guns in the house, alcohol abuse and a history of violence, a researcher says.

Deborah Doherty, executive director of Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick, spoke about domestic homicide at the Saint John Free Public Library.

In a study of the province’s last 35 domestic deaths – including homicides and murder-suicides – since 1989, Deborah Doherty has found that often, judges call the deaths “senseless acts,” she said.

“But we must make sense of these deaths. We need to learn something that might help us prevent deaths in the future,” said Doherty, the executive director of the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick, at a presentation at the Saint John Free Public Library.

Doherty, an expert in family violence, has researched New Brunswick’s domestic deaths since 2001 for the Silent Witness Project – an exhibit of life-sized red, wooden silhouettes representing women killed by their partners.

Her research doesn’t yet include Melanie Getson or Deborah Gunn, who were both killed in two separate slayings on May 10 in Saint John and Moncton respectively. Each of the women’s partners has been charged with first-degree murder.

“I just find it so disheartening every time I hear of a domestic death,” Doherty said in an interview. “Doing the research, and seeing so many of them were experiencing the same types of abuse in their life, I keep thinking, ?What could have been done? Can we learn one more thing from this death to help the next woman? Was there a signal that someone could have acted on to help Melanie?’ ”

Of the 35 cases – 15 of which were murder-suicides – Doherty found that 25 of them were in small towns or rural New Brunswick communities. That compares to 0.9 per cent for Ontario domestic deaths.

Guns have been the weapon of choice. Nineteen of the women were shot, and all but one was with a long gun rifle. “I have a pretty good idea it relates to the fact that this is a hunting province, with more firearms in homes,” Doherty said.

Combined with alcohol, the risk factor increases. Seventy-five per cent of the perpetrators had a serious drug or alcohol problem. That compares to 42 per cent in Ontario.

An overwhelming factor was a history of violence, which Doherty defined as not just physical, but emotional or sexual as well. Ninety per cent of the cases appeared to have a history of violence – though it wasn’t clear in court documents, she said.

Relationships were described as turbulent, stormy with a lot of bickering. Often friends, family or crisis workers knew about the violence, but police were never involved, so reports didn’t make it to court, she said.

Mental health also increased the risk, she found. Out of 20 court cases she examined, eight had documented depression, and several had attempted or threatened to commit suicide.

One of the more surprising factors for Doherty was martial status with 66 per cent of the women killed by their common-law partner.

Only 37 per cent of the women killed were recently separated, compared to 81 per cent in Ontario.

Doherty said it points to the need not just to help women leave abusive relationships – but to help them stay safely.

Along with awareness, communities need to start identifying abuse, she said.

“We as a society have a lower threshold for abusive behaviours and violence, firearms misuse, behaviours when people are drunk,” she said. “That’s not an excuse. We have to speak out against it.”

http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/city/article/1104216

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Just another unrestricted firearm

Posted by cgccanada on May 4, 2010

The L115A3 sniper rifle mentioned in the article below, which can shoot more than 2 km away, is classified as a non-restricted firearm in Canada.  The rifle, as issued by the British army, is equipped with a sound suppressor which is a prohibited device in Canada. If the sound suppressors is removed, the L115A3 sniper rifle is classified as a non-restricted firearm. More details on this firearm is available on the British army web site:  http://www.army.mod.uk/equipment/support-weapons/1459.aspx

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security will begin to hear witnesses on Bill C-391 today. This bill proposes to repeal the requirement to register unrestricted firearms like the L115A3 sniper rifle. There are also no provisions in Bill C-391 to reinstate the requirement that businesses keep records of sales, a requirement since 1977 that was removed when the Firearms Act passed in 1995 as the information would be in the registry.

British sniper shoots down Canada’s bragging rights
Colin Freeze
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, May. 04, 2010 12:07AM EDT
Last updated on Tuesday, May. 04, 2010 1:54AM EDT

Military observers are marvelling at a British sniper, revealed this week to have killed two Taliban fighters from a mountain perch 2.47 kilometres away. The story of these shots is being heard around the world as a feat of marksmanship without parallel in history.
Sadly, the news also puts an end to some national bragging rights: Until now, the Canadian Forces had claimed the world’s best sniper shot.

In 2002, when the Afghanistan war was still in its infancy, Canadian army Corporal Rob Furlong killed an alleged al-Qaeda fighter from 2.43 kilometres away – seemingly an unsurpassable feat.

That shot was never formally publicized – snipers are covert by nature, after all – but word leaked out over the years. The legend grew to the point where military observers hailed it as a landmark Canadian achievement.

“There was a certain frisson of pride involved there,” said historian Jack Granatstein. “I don’t think it’s significant in Canadian military history except insofar that it demonstrates that we are good snipers, after 25 years of assuming that we didn’t fight anybody.”
Contemplating both shots, he couldn’t help but marvel. “It’s amazing,” Mr. Granatstein said. “It’s absolutely amazing that you could fire a shot a someone [that far] away and hit them. … And the Brit hit two!”

Last November in Helmand province, British Corporal Craig Harrison killed the two insurgents from an astounding distance of 8,120 feet. News of the new record is only now being made public.

“The first round hit a machine-gunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” the British soldier told The Sunday Times of London. “The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too.”

Former Canadian Forces sniper Rob Furlong killed an alleged al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan from 2.43 kilometres away in 2002, a legendary feat – but one now taking a back seat to British Corporal Craig Harrison’s two kills of Taliban fighters from a distance of 2.47 kilometres.

In war zones, soldiers are given high-powered scopes and other rifle technologies that get better all the time. “The reason they are able to make these kind of shots is they have high-quality lasers that tell them where their target is within one metre,” said retired U.S. major John Plaster, a Vietnam War veteran who now runs a U.S. sniper school.

Good students there, Mr. Plaster said, can hit a dime at 100 yards.

Luck, as ever, remains a factor. Snipers live for the those moments when their rules of engagement and a windless day combine to create the conditions for the perfect kill – even if a target is a mile or more away.

Marksmanship, of course, has impressed nations ever since ancient Greeks boasted that clear-eyed Odysseus could kill many enemies with a single arrow. The Swiss had William Tell shoot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow. Medieval Brits marvelled at Robin Hood.

And Canada had Francis (Peggy) Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa Indian from Ontario who was the highest-scoring Canadian sniper of the First World War, with accounts of his kills running as high as 378.

As for Corp. Furlong, his shot, though surpassed, will create chatter for years to come, Mr. Plaster said. He said he even bumped into the shy Canadian – now an Edmonton police officer – at a U.S. gun show last winter.

“I applauded him. Shook his hand,” Mr. Plaster said. “You can take great pride in him.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-sniper-shoots-down-canadas-bragging-rights/article1555772/?cmpid=rss1

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Doctors group wants gun registry to stay

Posted by cgccanada on April 28, 2010

By CHRISTINA SPENCER, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
Last Updated: April 28, 2010 11:28am
Toronto Sun

OTTAWA — Repealing Canada’s long-gun registry would set back the significant gains in suicide prevention since the registry was introduced, emergency doctors and public health organizations said Wednesday.

In an open letter to MPs, 28 medical and health organizations said most firearms deaths in Canada are suicides, and the guns most frequently used are rifles and shotguns. They argued gun-related deaths and suicides in particular have diminished since the advent of the long-gun registry in 1995.

“The vast majority of firearm deaths in Canada are not gang-related but occur when an ordinary citizen becomes suicidal or violent, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or during a personal crisis such as marital breakdown or job loss,” their letter says.

“While it is true that there are more guns in rural areas, and therefore more opposition to gun control, it is equally true that there are higher rates of gun deaths in rural communities and western provinces.”

A private member’s bill to scrap the registry, put forward by Tory Candice Hoeppner, is before the House of Commons.

Dr. Alan Drummond of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians said, “Suicide is not a premeditated act usually; it’s usually impulsive, somebody feels overwhelmed, the gun is available, they pull the trigger.”

For that reason, emergency doctors want the registry to remain intact.

He said it is particularly helpful when police or a family member bring someone to an emergency department who is depressed or suicidal. Knowing if there is a gun in the home can make a huge difference, as physicians can then recommend police temporarily remove the firearm.

Drummond, a rural doctor who owns registered guns himself, said, “This, for us, is not really an issue of crime control but rather an issue of public health and safety.”

http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/04/28/13747341-qmi.html

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