Fighting for Gun Control Still a Public Matter in Canada
Downtown legal clinic assisting abused women faces off with government lawyers over constitutionality of the new, weaker laws in Canada
TORONTO, June 09, 2014 Starting Tuesday June 10, 2014, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic and its legal team lead by Shaun O’Brien from Cavalluzzo Shilton McIntyre & Cornish LLP, squares off with the Government of Canada’s lawyers at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, to declare the federal government’s repeal of the registry for non-restricted firearms, commonly known as the long gun registry, unconstitutional.
“That the Schlifer Clinic is taking on this battle is a measure of our distress at the certain deaths that will result from the new, weaker firearms regime”, says Clinic executive director, Amanda Dale.
In April, 2012, the federal government passed Bill C-19, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act. This legislation kept intact the registry for prohibited and restricted firearms, but repealed the provisions related to the long gun registry.
In May 2012, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, made application to the Ontario Superior Court to challenge the new federal gun law provisions on the basis that they violate of Sections 7 (Security of Person) and 15 (Equality of women) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Clinic will argue that the repeal of the long gun registry disproportionately impact women. The long gun registry was enacted, in part, to benefit women. Following the implementation of the long gun registry and other controls on firearms (set out in legislation passed in 1995), homicides of women in Canada with firearms dropped dramatically. Most women are shot by people they know – acquaintances or intimate partners. Firearms used in domestic violence are primarily legally owned rifles and shotguns. Therefore, controls on these firearms were expected to and did benefit women in particular.
The registry specifically benefited women because it is critical to remove firearms from escalating situations of domestic violence. The registry told the police what firearms were registered to the perpetrator so that they could locate and remove rifles and shotguns that had been legally acquired.
Our Clinic in Toronto sees over 5,000 women a year for whom violence, including gun violence, is a life and death matter.
The new federal laws killed the gun registry and weakened other provisions designed to make Canadians safer.
The clients of the Clinic are not in a position to bring forward this Application in their own names given the serious safety issues they face. The Clinic is acting as a public interest litigant in this matter.
About the Schlifer Clinic
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized clinic for women experiencing violence.
Barbra Schlifer was an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario. In her memory, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic assists 5,000 women a year to build lives free from violence through counselling, legal representation and language interpretation.
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