A brief regarding Bill C-68 as it relates to public health
Gun Control as a Public Health Issue
CPHA supports the legitimate use of firearms in law enforcement, the military, hunting for food and sporting activities. However, the misuse of firearms outside these legitimate spheres poses a great social and economic burden on society today.
Protecting the general health of the public has always been a cornerstone of Public Health. An important element in health protection is the development of preventative strategies where the health and safety of the public is at risk. In terms of gun control, these strategies are related to:
- Injuries and Accidental Deaths
- Violent Crime and Domestic Homicide
Education and information on their own are not sufficient for ensuring safe measures and promoting responsible behaviour. It is generally accepted by the public that regulations in addition to education are required to prevent premature death and injuries from such things as automobiles, bicycles, addictive substances, toys and a number of other potentially hazardous products. The rationale for regulation is not that the majority of car owners or toy manufacturers are irresponsible but that the potential for accidents is real and therefore reasonable steps are necessary to prevent injury and death where possible. These same arguments can be made with respect to gun control.
CPHA believes that the majority of gun owners are responsible. However, on average, every year in Canada there are 1,400 firearm related deaths and over 1,000 firearm related injuries. Most firearm related deaths and injuries are not the result of criminal activity but the result of misuse, suicides and domestic homicides with legally owned, easily available rifles and shotguns. In 1991, out of a total of 1,450 firearm related deaths, 1,118 were due to suicide, 250 were the result of assaults, and 57 were unintentional (the remaining were due to unknown causes and legal intervention). CPHA believes that measures are required to prevent these unnecessary human tragedies.