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THE ELIMINATION OF THE LONG GUN REGISTRY Conservatives Giving Free Rein To Criminals And Killers To Go Get Their Guns

The elimination of the long gun registry (Bill C-19) is a devastating loss for the witnesses and victims of the École Polytechnique massacre, where 14 young women were killed by crazed gunman! The elimination of the gun registry and easy accessibility to guns will only add to the loss of many innocent lives in Canada in the years ahead. The LINK commends Nathalie Provost’s effort and courage to speak out against this bill. It is extremely important for Canadians  to be aware that this government is treading against the will of vast majority of its citizens. To be frank – it’s absolutely disgraceful that Conservatives are on one hand getting tough on crime and on the other hand offering criminals and so-called gun enthusiasts (potential future criminals) a free hand to get their guns.

By Nathalie Provost

I will always remember December 6th 1989 as the darkest day of my life. It was the day I was shot four times with a semi-automatic rifle, while six more seriously injured classmates died around me. In all, fourteen young women were killed and 13 others were injured by an angry man with a legally acquired non-restricted long gun.

The shootings at l’École Polytechnique triggered a nation-wide movement to improve our gun control laws. Victims, witnesses and families of the deceased fought alongside police and women’s groups to support the adoption and implementation of stricter gun control measures.

On the sixth anniversary in December 1995, we were at least able to celebrate the passage of Bill C 68, which introduced a system of licences for all gun owners and the registration of all firearms. And every anniversary since, we drew strength from the progressive reduction in gun related murders, suicides and accidents.

But not this year.

This 22nd anniversary of the massacre will be the worst day since the tragedy for the many witnesses and survivors like me. One of the most positive and measurable outcome of the tragedy — the very thing that reassured the families that their daughters had not died in vain — is being obliterated by a heartless, obtuse and ideologically-driven government.

Ignoring all major police, public health, suicide prevention and victims’ organizations, the Conservatives are in the process of ramming Bill C 19 though Parliament. Abolishing the long gun registry and destroying all the data on 7.1 millions hunting rifles and shotguns is not the only thing this legislation will accomplish. It will also remove the sellers’ obligation to verify if a buyer has a valid licence, sabotaging the licensing provisions intended to ensure long guns are only sold to licensed individuals.

Less than two weeks ago, while testifying before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security with fellow gradutate Heidi Rathjen , I asked the Conservatives MPs to refrain, at least while I was appearing before them, with my scars and the memory of my dying friends and classmates, from reciting their highly offensive mantra that long guns are not a crime problem.

I reminded them that the police use the registry every day to confiscate long guns from gun owners whose licence has been revoked for public safety reasons — over 2000 times a year. And that these interventions coincided with a 34% reduction in gun deaths in Canada, including a 64% reduction in women being shot to death — usually by an intimate partner.

After our testimony, the Conservative members completely ignored us and what we said.

The first in line to question the witnesses was Conservative MP Ryan Leef. This was his question to the hunter beside us: “women who are gun owners and have decided they are not going to subject themselves to this registry and have not registered them… making these law-abiding Canadians criminals, which would actually victimize women in rural areas, victimize females who rely on subsistence … Would you agree that we don’t want to be running a risk of victimizing those women any further?”

Really?! Women victimized by the registry?  I couldn’t believe we’re losing to these people.

The Conservative members also ignored our concerns regarding licensing. With Bill C-19, selling a long gun to an unlicensed individual will become virtually impossible to prosecute: all the defendant has to say is he or she “believed” the buyer had a license. This means there will be fewer controls on purchasing long guns than on borrowing a book: at least in a library, you have to show your library card!

Instead, MP Candice Hoeppner shamelessly reiterated the Conservatives’ supposed unwavering support for licensing, going so far as to say she believes “very strongly that we need to strengthen the licensing process.” This, while the bill before her will render these very same provisions inoperable.

But this was the pattern of the Conservatives throughout the debate on C-19: ignoring facts, disregarding science, discrediting experts, using imbecilic arguments, and diverting attention.

With Bill C-19, the government is taking us irreversibly down the path towards an American-style culture, where gun ownership universally trumps public safety.

But I believe that our fellow citizens, including many gun owners, share the values that unite us from coast to coast: a country based on law, order and good government, including reasonable regulations for particularly dangerous objects.

It’s not over until it’s over. If, on this 22nd anniversary of the Polytechnique tragedy, Canadians clamour loud enough, and if opinion leaders point out the fallacies and dangers of the government’s position, then maybe enough Conservative senators will do the right thing and vote against Bill C-19.

The safety of our future generations depends on them.

Nathalie Provost, B.Eng., M.Sc.A

Graduate of l’École Polytechnique (1990) Survivor of the Dec 6th 1989 massacre Recipient of the Medal of Bravery (1993) Spokesperson for Polysesouvient (Students and Graduates of Polytechnique for Gun Control) www.polysesouvient.ca

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