BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to 'LETTER: Bill C-21 an attack on 'average' handgun owners,' published June 17.
I’d like to address a couple of issues raised in Mark Cooper’s letter to the editor on gun control.
In it, Mr Cooper asserts that Bill C-21 is an “attack on the innocent” gun owners and will do nothing to combat crime.
On an issue as serious as this, particularly where there is a mass shooting every week south of us, it’s important to understand the facts of the situation and avoid hyperbole where possible.
Gun crime is a complex issue that cannot be solved with one stroke of a pen. While gun control is an important part of a solution so is investing in mental health resources and intervention, not to mention cracking down on the conspiracy theorist falsehoods that seem to radicalize a growing number within our society.
With that said, let’s talk guns and we can use Statistics Canada as a neutral resource to provide us with our data:
- There are 2.2 million gun owners in Canada. A very small minority.
- In 2020, among police services who reported information on organized crime or gang-related criminal activity, six per cent of victims of firearm-related violent crime were victims in incidents that police identified as confirmed or suspected to be committed by, and for the benefit of, a criminal organization or street gang.
- Overall, one in four (25 per cent) female victims of firearm-related violent crime was victimized by a current or former spouse or other intimate partner.
- For women, firearm-related intimate partner violence (IPV) was most frequent in rural areas. Rates of firearm-related violent crime were higher in rural areas than in urban centres in most provinces, and were notably high in northern rural regions.
- In 2018, 199 of the 249 homicides by gun were committed by someone using either a handgun or rifle/shotgun.
Source: StatsCanada 2020
While urban crime makes the headlines and isn’t to be ignored, if you live in rural Canada you are more likely to be a victim of a gun crime. And if you are a woman who is a victim of gun crime, there’s a one-in-four chance that you will be victimized by a spouse/intimate partner.
Bill C-21 has some important tools for law enforcement to be able to address changing situations.
For example, assume a gun was legally acquired. If that owner suffers a mental health issue where their safety or the safety of their family is in question... that gun can now be seized. If that person becomes abusive toward a spouse or child... that gun can now be seized. If that person becomes radicalized and threatens to attack anyone in our society.... that gun can now be seized.
Surely this is a good thing. When Mr. Cooper speaks of “attacking the innocent” gun owners, I’d prefer to focus on the innocent victims of abuse and give the police more tools to intervene before things escalate.
In terms of smuggling guns, of course this legislation won’t solve everything. In the Bill C-21 press conference, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair highlighted that illegal guns make their way to the street in one of three ways:
1. Smuggled across the border.
2. Stolen from a home which had legally purchased them.
3. Purchased by someone legally, then sold and reported stolen.
Banning the sale of handguns hopefully makes owning one less common and for those who buy and sell, less attractive and accessible.
Ok, it’s not perfect. But geez, what’s the alternative? Vote Conservative and repeal assault weapons bans?
This is a step forward.
If “innocent,” licensed gun owners are responsible and pose no threat to themselves or others, this legislation isn’t aimed at them.
I’m proud that on the heels of another mass shooting in the country that has amassed the largest civilian armament in the world we did something that could actually save a life. That’s what makes Canada great.