To the editor:
Needed Permit to Buy Long Gun for 20 Years, letter to the editor Nov. 17 Capital News.
December 6 is a day that commemorates the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre. On this date, 22 years ago, a young man with a gun walked into the L’École Polytechnique at the University of Montreal. He separated the men from the women and killed 14 female engineering students.
He targeted women because, as he said in a well-publicized letter, women had stolen his engineering seat and taken his rightful place in higher education. In his letter, he was very clear in his hatred for what he called feminists, or any woman who dared to step out of her traditional role, and wrote that his action would send these women a strong message to keep in their place.
December 6 was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The Canadian federal gun control law and registry was inspired by the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre.
And now, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is vowing to abolish the gun registry. The Conservative government bill tabled on Nov. 23 orders the commissioner of firearms to destroy “as soon as feasible” records related to 7.1 million long-barreled guns collected over the past 15 years.
If passed, Bill C-19 would, as promised, end the legal requirement for owners of rifles and shotguns to register their firearms. The Harper government has gone so far as to declare that the federal records of the gun registry data collected be destroyed in order to thwart the ability of any future federal party to re-establish it in the future.
Opponents of the registry say most violent crime involves handguns. As is often the case, this statistic is from the United States, which has quite different gun laws than Canada.
In Canada, the most common use of guns in violent crime is on the home front—domestic violence against women.
According to RCMP data, long guns, not hand guns, are the most common type of firearm used in spousal homicides because of their simple availability in some Canadian homes. Over the past decade, 71 per cent of women killed in spousal homicides involved rifles and shotguns, 24 per cent involved a handgun, four per cent involved the use of a sawed-off rifle/shotgun, and one per cent involved other types of firearms.
In 2010, Harper eliminated funding for Sisters in Spirit, an internationally praised organization leading investigations into 600 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. And now, in 2011, Stephen Harper’s move to dismantle the gun registry and destroy the data on the very anniversary of the massacre that inaugurated this law is callous in the extreme. At the same time, Harper plans to double annual prison spending by 2015 (an increase of $5 billion annually) while his government does nothing to prevent the murder of women.
And, in British Columbia, all of this is happening at the same time as the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. On Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 in Vancouver, Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of a 2010 report critical of the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP handling of the Pickton trial, admitted that former Vancouver deputy police chief John Unger referred to the dozens of missing women as ‘just hookers.’ A sexually harassed RCMP officer, Cpl. Catherine Galliford, told the inquiry that RCMP officers joked that they hoped Pickton ‘would escape from prison, track me down, strip me naked, hang me from a meat hook and gut me like a pig.’
It is time to recognize once and for all that the Montreal massacre did not occur merely because of the psychological problems of a lone gunman, but rather because violence against women is epidemic in Canadian society. The Harper Government has erased the truth of all of the women in Canada who have experienced violence and the reality of the pain of all those families that have been altered forever by murder and fear. We must remember these women, be active against violence against women, and stop the Harper Government’s anti-women policies.
Women’s Resource Centre,