Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns welcomes the passing of Bill C-71 by Senators this evening. This is legislation that will make our families and our communities safer. Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, is supported by clear and compelling evidence linking restrictions on access to guns with improved public health outcomes.
We wish to thank the Bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Senator Andre Pratte, and Ministers Ralph Goodale and Bill Blair for their advocacy for this legislation. There is widespread support for Bill C-71 within the medical community. A dozen prominent medical associations have endorsed our call for stronger gun laws. More than 1,000 health professionals and medical students in 16 cities participated in a National Day of Action on April 3rd in support of Bill C-71 and a ban on assault weapons and handguns. The Bill is also supported by a large majority of Canadians according to a Leger opinion poll from April 26th.
We recognize it takes political courage to overcome the kind of misinformation and harmful rhetoric being spread by those who purport to speak on behalf of Canadian hunters and gun owners. We thank the Senators, and previously, Members of Parliament, who supported this Bill for their commitment to reason and the public good.
The key components of Bill C-71 = better record keeping requirements for gun retailers, stronger background checks, and tighter regulations around transporting a gun – are modest but important changes that will lessen the risk of preventable gun injury and death and make Canadians safer.
The proliferation of guns represents a growing public health threat. Statistics Canada reports that firearm-related violent crime has increased 42% since 2013. Canada has the 5th highest rate of age adjusted, standardized firearm mortality among 23 peer countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2018). Women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Shooting was the most common method of their killing in 2018 at 34% according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. A 2018 position statement by the Canadian Pediatric Society states that guns should not be kept in environments where children live or play. Suicide is preventable death; 75% of gun deaths are suicides and nearly 15% of adolescent suicides in Canada are by gun.
Today’s vote is a solid step in the right direction. Now we must continue to take measures – including a ban on handguns and assault weapons – that will strengthen public health and safety. There is no time to lose.
About Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns (CDPG) is a grassroots organization concerned about the increasing public health impact of firearms. We represent physicians working in collaboration with nurses, paramedics, rehabilitation specialists, psychologists, researchers and other front-line health care professionals. We have all witnessed first-hand the emotional and physical trauma and devastation caused by guns. CDPG calls for a comprehensive public policy response to this crisis in our communities, including preventative tools to reduce gun use and their consequences on youth violence, domestic abuse, and suicide.
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For Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns