Mr. Chair and members of the committee, I am Ken Price. Let me introduce Claire Smith and Ali Demircan. We represent Danforth Families for Safe Communities. We're based in Toronto.
We experienced terror and tragedy from gun violence on a horrific night on July 22, 2018. It was a handgun that came to a retailer in one part of the country and was stolen and then used in Toronto to kill a girl and a teenager and injure 13 others that night. One of those injured was Ali, and another was my and Claire's daughter, Samantha. It is through the lens of that experience, therefore, and through our own subsequent findings as a grassroots group that emerged from that night that we have joined others in calling for a need for action to reduce the growing gun violence problem.
We're not here to be critical of all gun owners or of all gun ownership. Our group is made up of citizens with various levels of experience in the use of firearms, but since we were brought into this issue due to the tragedy, we are troubled that gun violence and homicide by gun have continued to grow.
We also agree that no one measure will be sufficient to combat this issue. We support Bill C-21 because it is a wide-reaching bill that has many aspects. It's not just about a freeze on handguns or a buyback of assault rifles—it has a number of items that we support—but other groups are going to talk about other measures and have given testimony in that regard.
We are going to focus on what has been called the “freeze” on handguns and the efforts to reduce the widely held private supply of handguns, which we believe is contributing to crime in this country.
It gives us no pleasure to make that statement. It gives us no pleasure to stand here and say that the domestic source of legally imported and licensed guns contributes to a significant portion of guns used in homicides and violence. As evidence, of course, we have our own experience of this being true. Through a survey of accredited news sources, we've compiled a list of incidents in which handguns were stolen or diverted, where straw purchases occurred or where licensed gun owners themselves were the ones carrying out the violence.
We combined this anecdotal and incidental information with our reading of Statistics Canada data. According to Statistics Canada reporting, for those guns that were successfully traced and used in a homicide, the number of guns traced to Canada was two and a half times greater than the number of guns traced to the United States. We realize that this number is likely to be challenged and is different from what other people are presenting in social media.
StatsCan also reports that the gun format that's primarily used in crime is the handgun, so it's not about all guns. We're not taking issue with the vast majority of gun owners who own rifles and shotguns. We are taking issue with the fact that handguns themselves are the problem.
Of course, we also conclude that there is an issue with guns coming across the border. We absolutely acknowledge that. We know that. We've talked to lots of groups that would acknowledge that as well, but we're here to say that there's not one problem to solve where supply is concerned. There are two problems to solve, and therefore the freeze is necessary, unfortunately.
In that regard, we have three comments we'd like to make about what has been proposed. All of these lead to some clarification and perhaps tightening of some of the exemptions, which I think are well-meaning but could lead to an undermining of the goal of freezing and reducing the number of handguns in the country.
First is the exemption for elite sports shooters. We think the wording needs to be clarified and tightened so that it is more clear that it's really the pistols being used in those competitions and not a general licence for handgun ownership.
We also ask that the program being supported is that which exists today. Related to this point, we're already seeing that other sport shooting organizations are coming forward and asking, “What about us?” IPSC is an example of that. Our concern is that those other organizations have very broad definitions with respect to how many and what kinds of handguns they can use. They have an open category, so virtually any handgun could qualify. We're concerned that it would undermine the objective of the bill, which is to freeze and reduce the handgun supply in Canada.
Second, we'd like to see a loophole closed that existed in our case. The person who had stolen a gun was able to buy magazines without having to present that they had an RPAL or a PAL and an ability to buy that. We would like to see that wherever a licence is required to buy a gun or ammunition, the magazine is included in that.
Third, suggestions have been made that perhaps the gun ranges themselves could get the business exemption. We understand that idea, although we're very concerned. We have seen evidence that gun ranges can be a target of theft. Therefore, should that go forward, we're opposed to this ownership model until or unless regulations are agreed to that would ensure the safety of all Canadians. We shouldn't back into that as an idea; it should be an idea that we construct.
Mr. Chair, thank you to all the MPs on this committee for their service. Maybe as Canadians we don't say that enough to our MPs. Thank you for your attention to this complex and difficult issue, and thank you for letting us make these statements today.