YWCA Canada welcomes the measures for stronger gun control introduced by the Government of Canada in Bill C-21 last week. We applaud the work of our Member Association, YWCA Toronto, as well as the Coalition for Gun Control, gun control advocates and the families of victims for their tireless work of calling to further government action on gun safety.
For nearly 30 years, YWCA Canada has advocated for gun control as an essential part of preventing femicide and acts of gender-based violence. As the oldest and largest gender equity organization in the country, we are all too aware of the devastating impact guns violence has on women, gender-diverse people and their families in both urban and rural communities. YWCA Canada’s Member Associations operate 34 shelters across Canada, many of which focus on supporting women and children who are fleeing violence in their homes, including gun violence.
Women and gender-diverse people face disproportionate risks from handguns that are often used to threaten, control and kill. Legal handguns are both a significant percentage of the weapons used in perpetrating gender-based violence and are the most common handgun used in mass shootings. The measures proposed in the recent legislation, including the phasing out of private handgun ownership and the automatic revocation of a gun when an individual is subject to a protection order or involved in an act of domestic violence or stalking, are necessary to ensure the safety of women and gender-diverse people.
Due to the pandemic, gender-based violence is on the rise, and it is urgent that the federal government take action. A robust, national gun safety policy is an important first step but the Government of Canada must also continue taking decisive policy actions by introducing a well-funded National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, and further investing in poverty reduction strategies including income security measures, as poverty and income inequality are closely related to gun violence as well.
YWCA Canada is committed to working in coalition with our partners to support the implementation of Bill C-21, to continue advocating for a total ban on handguns in Canada, and to call on the government to implement a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence that centres the voices of survivors and advocates.