Gun-control advocates say firearms laws work
Updated Thu. Jan. 19 2006 7:27 PM ET
MONTREAL — A coalition of gun-control advocates urged the front-running Conservative party Thursday to leave Canada's gun laws alone if they win next week's federal election.
The Coalition for Gun Control is worried the Conservatives may be pressured by lobby groups such as the National Firearms Association.
"Our biggest fear is because of the power of the gun lobby in Canada, we are going to see gun control dismantled," coalition president Wendy Cukier told a news conference.
"There was a lot of evidence of influence, of endorsements, of campaigning and co-operation" between the Conservatives and the gun lobby, she said.
The Conservatives have already said they would scrap the much-maligned firearms registry - a promise reiterated by Saskatchewan Tory MP Garry Breitkreuz during a recent all-candidates meeting, she added.
Breitkreuz has worked "very closely" with the Canadian gun lobby to oppose gun control, Cukier said.
"They (the Conservatives) have kept him quiet through most of the campaign and that was clearly very deliberate."
Cukier said that Ontario Tory MP Cheryl Gallant has received funds from the Canadian gun lobby in the past. But she also admitted there is "very little evidence of large amounts of money" being contributed to the federal party.
Catherine Bergeron, whose sister died in the shooting rampage that killed 14 women at Montreal's Ecole polytechnique in December 1989, said Conservative claims that the current law doesn't work are untrue.
Bergeron said the law is a useful, efficient tool to help police keep track of firearms.
"But I'm afraid the gun lobby is very powerful and is going to push hard to get the party to act," she said.
"I won't let any party destroy the efforts we put into getting one of the best laws for gun control."
Conservative justice critic Vic Toews said in an interview that the gun registry is just not cost-effective.
"What has been very clear from police officers, from the rank and file, and various levels of police officers that I've talked with over the past number of years is that the gun registry is not working.
"It's an inordinate amount of money for very little return," he added.
But Toews stressed that the Tories believe in gun control.
"One of the most effective mechanisms of ensuring that guns are not used against other human beings is stiff mandatory prison sentences," the former Manitoba attorney general said.
He said the Conservatives have been working with various organizations to develop "an appropriate licensing system."
"And the unanimous conclusion of various groups, including police officers, is that we revert back to the firearms acquisition certificate," Toews said.
"That would involve the background checks of individuals rather than the futile attempt to register guns."
Toews pointed out that the gun crimes which are occurring in downtown Toronto are not committed with legal firearms.
He said criminals who use illegal firearms are the ones who should be targeted.
Cukier also noted that Harper said during the leaders' debates that he would enshrine property rights in the Constitution and that would include guns.
"That will create a whole different ballgame," she added.
Not that I've heard. I won't be surprised if they drop the registration requirement for long guns and change the licensing system a little. Time will tell.