Thanks very much.
I'll try to be brief because I want to save some time for my colleague, Dr. Barbara Kane, to speak.
The Coalition for Gun Control is a non-profit organization. It was founded more than 20 years ago. Its position on firearms regulation has been supported by more than 300 public safety and community organizations across the country. We maintain that Canada's Firearms Act as it is written is an important piece of our national strategy to prevent gun crime and injury and to support law enforcement, and considerable research has shown that effective regulation of firearms is linked to reductions in firearm homicide, suicide, accidents, and crime.
In our opinion, the amendments contained in Bill C-19 will put Canadian lives at risk. Like previous legislation aimed at ending the requirement that individuals register their non-restricted firearms--guns that include the powerful semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14, which was used in the Montreal massacre, as well as sniper rifles, including some .50 calibre variants--this bill will allow a licensed individual to acquire an unlimited number of guns without even checking if their licence is valid, which was an important improvement in the 1995 legislation. There will also be no means of knowing who owns these guns, who sold them, and how many are owned.
There will be no way to trace a gun recovered at the scene of a crime back to its original owner. We are losing not only an important public safety tool, but an important investigative tool.
Briefly, registering all non-restricted firearms to their legal owners is key to the effectiveness of our gun control policy, because these guns are used in homicides, suicides, and unintentional injury. They account for a substantial proportion of firearms recovered in crimes and for the majority of guns used in the murder of women, in suicides, and in the murder of police officers. It isn't just an urban issue, as you will hear from Dr. Kane, and it's important to emphasize that the registration provisions in the legislation reinforce the licensing provisions by reducing the chances that legal gun owners will divert their firearms to unlicensed owners.
The link between the licensing of firearm owners and the registration of firearms was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in its unanimous decision on the Firearms Act in the year 2000. The firearm registry has demonstrably helped remove firearms from dangerous individuals. It was also significant in aiding police investigations, including the prosecution of two men as accessories to the murder of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.
In Canada, the rates of firearm death and injury have fallen dramatically with successively stronger firearm regulation, and the costs of maintaining the registration of rifles and shotguns are dwarfed by the cost of gun death and injury.
It eliminates the requirement that businesses keep a record of sales. In 1977, the government introduced the requirement that all gun transactions be recorded in firearm business records. Your legislation makes no requirement to reinstitute this.
It also eliminates the requirement that a firearms licence be verified when guns are purchased, increasing the chances that someone who is prohibited from owning firearms and represents a risk to public safety will be able to access guns.
Of particular concern is the fact that this legislation requires the erasing of the data on 7.1 million rifles and shotguns currently registered, in spite of the fact that the data is essential as an investigative tool for police officers. Several international treaties require that countries maintain these records.
We may not be able to prove exactly how many lives the registry has saved. We know for certain, however, that the firearms registry never killed anyone, and this legislation may in fact put Canadian lives at risk.
I would like to give my remaining time to Dr. Kane.