Public Health and the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee
On January 28, 2013, CPHA wrote to the Prime Minister urging the Government of Canada to engage the public health community in meaningful dialogue on Canada’s firearm laws and regulations by including public health experts on the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee (CFAC). The committee, established in 2006, advises the Minister of Public Safety on ways and means to “improve efficiency and effectiveness of gun control laws and regulations, eliminate waste in the current system and eliminate rules and regulations that fail to enhance public safety.” A response was received from the Prime Minister’s Office on March 26, 2013.
As CPHA highlighted in its letter, statistics demonstrate that injury and death due to firearms is a major public health concern, and the cost to the Canadian economy of deaths and injuries due to gunshot wounds is estimated at $1.4 billion annually.
If we are to have an impact on firearm-related deaths and injuries and the associated societal and health care costs, CPHA believes that better public education, regulations and preventive strategies are needed. To this end, CPHA expressed its readiness to help identify nominees for the CFAC.
On March 11, 2013, the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, announced the appointment of three individuals to the CFAC. Regrettably, none of the new appointments represent a public health perspective.
While CPHA supports the legitimate use of firearms in law enforcement, the military, hunting for food and sporting activities, the misuse of firearms outside these legitimate spheres poses a social and economic burden on Canadian society. Protecting the health of the public, preventing injury and death, and promoting public policy and best practices that create the conditions for personal and community health, security and well-being are cornerstones of public health.
CPHA will continue to monitor this issue and keep members informed.