Many people living in Canada, especially women and children, are victims of intimate- partner violence (IPV). IPV has been identified as a major global public health concern, linked to intergenerational violence and harmful physical, emotional and economic impacts on victims, witnesses and society as a whole. The violence associated with IPV can be particularly terrifying and threatening when the abuser has access to a firearm.
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting public safety. That is why the Government introduced new firearms legislation to keep Canadians safe and to make sure that guns stay out of the hands of people who may pose a serious risk to themselves or others.
Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, participated in a virtual roundtable with organizations that support victims of intimate-partner violence and gender-based violence from the Kitchener-Waterloo region. During their discussion, the Minister highlighted the important work carried out in supporting women and other individuals at risk. The Minister also had the opportunity to detail how the Government’s proposed firearms legislation is designed to help prevent and deter domestic violence. As part of legislation introduced on February 16, 2021 and other measures undertaken, the Government will:
- Combat intimate-partner and gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms by creating “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws. These laws would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of an individual’s firearms, and allow a Chief Firearms Officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence privileges to acquire or use firearms.
- Fight gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and by enhancing the capacity of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms.
- Help create safer communities by supporting municipalities that ban handguns through bylaws restricting storage and transportation in their jurisdictions. Individuals who violate these municipal by-laws would be subject to federal penalties, including licence revocation and criminal sanctions.
- Give young people the opportunities and resources they need to avoid criminal behaviour by providing funding to municipalities and Indigenous communities to support youth programs.
- Protect Canadians from gun violence by creating new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a firearm and depicting violence in firearms advertising, introducing tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and prohibiting the import, export, sale, and transfer of all replica firearms.
- Complete the prohibition of assault-style firearms to ensure these weapons cannot be legally used, transported, sold, transferred, or bequeathed by individuals in Canada. We also intend to move forward with a buyback program in the coming months to support the safe removal of these firearms from our communities.
This legislation builds on previous measures to keep guns out of our communities, including prohibiting assault-style firearms, expanding background checks for firearms licence applicants to cover their lifetime, including a history of domestic violence and making online threats, and providing $327.6 million through the Initiative To Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence to support provincial, territorial and community-level prevention and enforcement efforts to tackle the increase in gun-related violence and gang activity.
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“Intimate-partner violence is a serious crime that affects Canadians from coast to coast, in both urban and rural areas. It often takes place behind closed doors and can make the victims, who are typically women, feel isolated and afraid. It is even more terrifying when the abuser has access to a firearm. Our government is committed to strengthening gun control measures – including introducing red flag laws – that would give IPV victims the power to quickly remove firearms from their abuser.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
There were over 107,000 victims of police-reported intimate-partner violence (IPV) in Canada in 2019. For 660 victims of IPV, a firearm was present. Women accounted for almost 8 in 10 victims of all IPV incidents and they were even more likely to be the victim in the 660 IPV incidents where a firearm was present.
A Justice Canada study estimated the cost of one type of intimate-partner violence, spousal violence, on Canadian society at $7.4 billion in 2009. Most were related to victim costs, such as pain and suffering, counselling expenses and legal fees for divorce, while the next highest costs were borne by third parties (e.g., families, employers and social services) and the criminal and civil justice systems (e.g., police, courts, corrections).
Only 30% of Canadians say police are aware of incidents where their spouse had been violent or abusive. This means that many incidents of family violence never come to the attention of the police.
The rates of violent and non-violent offences specific to firearms increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2019. The number of violent offences specific to firearms increased by 21% (an increase of 642 from 2,861 to 3,503).