Tags: Canada, domestic violence, gun control, IANSA, Project Ploughshares
The first few days of my fellowship with Project Ploughshares have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, reading up on gun control legislation in Canada, and exploring my new surroundings. The Ploughshares office is located in an old Seagram’s distillery and needless to say, it’s amazing. The building used to be a museum, and much of the distillery is still intact. Our organization is among good company, sharing the building with an international governance think tank and a non-profit economic development organization.
Project Ploughshares office location, housed in an old Seagram’s distillery.
Project Ploughshares has a staff of about ten people, and as an NGO their main area of focus is on peace, small arms, and disarmament. The topic of domestic violence and its correlation with gun control is not one which Ploughshares has broached before, and therefore I will be spending a lot of my time turning to experts in the field of domestic violence throughout Canada in order to better understand the direct effect gun control policies have on domestic violence. Canada is one of only a few countries that already has in place harmonic gun control and domestic violence laws. In 1995, the Firearms Act was passed, requiring that owners of guns hold both a license and proof of registration for their firearms. Before being granted a license, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Firearms Program may choose to contact references, spouses, or ex-spouses ( required information on the application) in order to determine whether there are any safety concerns in granting a particular individual a license. Opponents question why both a license and registration are needed, arguing that a lack of statistical evidence exists illustrating that current policy reduces violence; many assert that the money used to cover administrative costs for the program should instead be used to increase the number of RCMP. Proponents, on the other hand, explain that current legislation should be looked at in the same sense as owning a car; owners of automobiles must register their car after purchasing it, and they must carry a valid license to operate it. If an individual has violations on their record, restrictions may be placed on their license and thus, their ability to drive. The Firearms Act operates under the same concept in that if safety concerns surface through the application process, the individual under review will be looked at more closely by the RCMP and may be denied a license. One of my tasks during my time here will be to meet with organizations with a vested interest in preventing domestic violence in order to get them involved in illustrating just how important this current piece of policy is. There are a lot of Conservatives, farmers and hunters speaking out against this policy, and they have a lot of big support behind them. Because of this, it is important for women’s and other social service organizations to work together to keep the legislation in place.
As a first step, on Sunday Maribel and I will travel to Ottawa so I can begin meeting with individuals representing women’s and other domestic violence organizations in order to rally their support for the IANSA Disarming Domestic campaign. In the meantime, I will continue my new personal mission of driving down a street without getting lost, which has been rare since leaving Minneapolis. At least as a consolation, Waterloo provides some pretty amazing scenery.