and this would be one of those moments.
There has been a lot of discussion going on at Bill Tieleman’s blog in response to his post in support of the gun registry in Canada. I’m not going to get into all the details, but suffice it to say that the comments are heated and there are very few people without a firm opinion on the matter. That’s all fine and it’s great to see the debate evolve from opinion to hard facts. But this one point is why I must open my mouth.
Using gun related spousal murders as a reason for continuing this gun registry is not only ridiculous, but possibly dangerous to women on the receiving end of domestic violence. (I really like you Bill, but I’ve got to say this). I back up my points, rather than relying on vague allusions and unsubstantiated generalities to make a case, unlike some of the largely anonymous commenters under his post.
After looking around the net at discussions currently ongoing, it appears that there are a large number of gun registry supporters across Canada who would have you believe that the gun registry can prevent or at least reduce the number of spousal murders in this country, especially in rural areas where rifles are more prevalent. Bullshit on all counts.
One commenter (the first – Maureen) had this to say:
It was a bad week for women’s rights last week – first the gun registry attack by the NDP and Liberal enablers, a registry that has reduced gun-related spousal homicides.
Sorry to say Maureen, but I can’t find any hard facts to back that up. If you happen to read this, point me to your information source.
Bill says this in his post:
Despite claims that the registry unfairly discriminates against rural gun owners, the reality is that access to firearms is a key factor in domestic homicides.
Now, this is partially correct, because traditionally in rural areas ,rifles are a common household item. More on this in a bit.
However, Bill goes on to say this in the comments section:
Take a look at the firearms deaths stats my friend. Take a look at domestic violence in rural communities.
So, I did look at firearms death stats- with relation to domestic violence, and conveniently enough, another commenter to his post brought up a recent, 2008 report that indicates firearms are no more significant in cases of spousal murder than stabbings ( but no one seems to be stepping up to register or prohibit knives…) info quoted is from page 39
Between 1997 and 2006, the most common method
used to kill male spouses was stabbing (69%). In contrast,
female victims of spousal homicide were equally likely to be
stabbed or shot (30% each). A larger proportion of female
spousal victims were killed as a result of physical force
such as beating, strangulation, suffocation or drowning
Over the past decade, the rate of firearm-related spousal
homicides decreased by nearly 50%
In 1996 there were
27 firearm-related spousal homicides compared to 16 in
2006 (Chart 4.3).
Sadly enough, there isn’t a lot of recent or current Canadian research on spousal murder in Canada , but there has been research done in the past that says this:
While the prevalence of violence using guns against women in rural and urban communities is not statistically significant, the current literature does highlight the greater accessibility and use of guns in rural areas to intimidate, terrorize and murder women who are in violent relationships (Websdale, 1998). In many rural areas, guns are part of the household, often used for hunting and protection. Nolan (1992) suggests that:
Domestic killings occur disproportionately in rural areas and it is believed that this may reflect the high levels of gun ownership in the country. Many victims of domestic violence also report being threatened with firearms. (1992:23)
This finding has also been reiterated by Dansy Consultants Inc. who found that violence was a factor in 80 percent of the cases involving firearm homicides (1992:15). While gun ownership and accessibility may not be the sole reason for wife-killing in rural areas, the fact that they are present and accessible may accentuate their use in situations of violence. Second, it may be more viable to discharge a firearm in a rural area without being detected or attracting police attention.
There you have it. Guns are used to kill women and men in that sometimes screwed up institution of marriage – but so are knives, fists, hammers, boots, boards, ropes, pillows and anything else the murderer can get his or her hands onto. In fact, I know that when responding to a domestic violence call, the RCMP will operate under the assumption that there ARE weapons in the house,unless told otherwise. Yes, you may argue that the gun registry will tell them prior to arrival if there is a registered weapon in the home,but how the hell that prevents the murderer from firing it, I don’t know.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. No gun registry is going to stop a man from pulling the trigger when he chooses to kill his wife or girlfriend.
Please. Don’t use the excuse or pseudo-concern of women getting beaten and then possibly murdered with rifles as an excuse to continue this gun registry. It sickens me to hear that. It’s like saying having a license to drive will prevent deaths on the road from alcohol, or speed. They don’t, they just show you passed a test and keep track of your personal information. Again, bullshit.
If someone really wanted to prevent needless deaths of women, they would be lobbying for much-needed changes to the Criminal Code that still treats the abusers with kid gloves( especially on a first offence) , demanding a reinstatement of mandatory charges for the abuser in BC, and educating Crown on how to handle domestic violence cases – not fighting to save a gun registry!
The amount of money spent on this registry so far, would have done far more to prevent spousal murders, through public education programs, shelters and resources for women suffering the kind of severe abuse that often leads to murder. Especially in those rural areas where women are often isolated and stay silent because there are no resources to go to.
Yes, Bill Tieleman was right to call all these politicians gutless – but in my opinion, for the wrong reason. At least, that’s the way I see it.