Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses for appearing. I've listened with interest to all of your testimony.
I want to read something from Statistics Canada this past year that says that the national homicide rate rose for the second straight year in 2005, reaching its highest point in nearly a decade. Firearms-related killings increased for the third year in a row. There were 658 homicides last year, 34 more than in 2004. Of these, 222 were committed with a firearm, up from 173. They report that 107 homicides were believed to be gang-related in 2005, 35 more than in 2004. Two-thirds of gang-related homicides involved a firearm, most often a handgun.
What all that tells me is that it's beyond dispute, in my opinion, that what we're doing currently is working. That's what it tells me. I'm not satisfied with those statistics, and I think we can do a lot better.
Mr. Moriah, I listened with interest to what you had to say, and some other witnesses have made the same point. A piece of legislation can't be the be-all and end-all. We have to work from all angles to tackle the problem. I agree with you.
I think Mr. Doob or someone mentioned jobs, opportunities. No one is against those things. We're all in favour of jobs, opportunities, and resources. Some of the things we've done have been to put more law enforcement officers on the streets and at the border, dedicate resources to help prevent crime, and focus specifically on preventing at-risk youth from getting involved in street gangs and drugs.
We can do all those things, but I haven't heard from any of the witnesses that there's any place at all for the Criminal Code. I didn't hear any suggestions of how we can make this bill better. You say you're against the bill, but we do in fact have a Criminal Code that deals with a situation when, despite all our best efforts, someone has taken a gun and shot someone.
We can talk about root causes all we like and we can go back as far as we like, but at that moment that someone has taken a gun and shot someone, I don't think we should make excuses for that person. At that point, there's a role for the criminal justice system, I believe. Some of you may disagree, but I'd like to hear what you propose. What role do you see for criminal justice?
I'll give you all an opportunity to speak to that.
I do have to mention something. Concerning Dr. Levitt, we've heard testimony that mandatory minimums do deter, and we've heard testimony that they don't. Dr. Levitt, of course, is not here to defend himself. He was one of Time Magazine's 100 people who shape our world, for 2006. He is a senior fellow for the American Bar Foundation. Without him here to defend his own work, I don't quite take what my colleague Mr. Bagnell said, that all evidence that this would work has been debunked. I think you've made arguments on one side. There's other work on the other side. I would like some comment on that.
Mr. Kulik, you said your organization supported Bill C-68, and you oppose this Bill C-10. Bill C-68 was, overall, misguided. I think history now, after ten years, has looked at it as a total failure. The problem with Bill C-68 is that it went after law-abiding citizens and said you have to line up and register your duck gun, and it ignored gangs that use handguns on the streets. Those people did not register their gun. The evidence that I just cited from Statistics Canada says people continue to get handguns.
We talk about resources and what this bill will cost. Bill C-68 has cost over $1 billion. Imagine what we could have done with $1 billion wasted registering people's legal firearms. I have to say, on the cost associated with Bill C-10, firearm cases are, I think we'd all agree, very serious incidents, but they represent less than 1% of the national caseload. So what we're talking about overall, globally, in cost, we have to put in perspective.
I've touched on a number of bits of your testimony, I think all of you, except Mr. King.
I do want to mention one thing. This is not an American three-strikes rule. I appreciate hearing the American perspective, but this bill is focused on specific crimes. Gangs committing crimes with handguns--that's where the problem is. It's not a broad three-strikes rule. We don't have broad application of mandatory minimum sentences. It's very focused. And we've seen evidence that says when you have very focused use of mandatory minimums, it works, because it takes those who continue to commit crimes off the street.
So I'd appreciate all your comments on your testimony.