The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) welcomes the passing of Canada’s new gun control legislation — Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) – at third reading in the Senate of Canada on December 14th, 2023. It received royal assent on December 15th.
NAWL is pleased to see the government deliver on its promise to strengthen gun control laws in Canada to reduce gun violence and improve community safety. We thank parliamentarians, especially the Senators and Members of Parliament on standing committees in the respective chambers, who worked to improve and pass this bill in the interest of preventing gender-based violence.
Women throughout Canada will be safer and less at risk from death from gun violence once this legislation is enacted and supported through regulations. Of note, Bill C-21 contains important measures to remove firearms from the hands of abusers.
Access to firearms is linked to a more than tenfold increase in the likelihood that intimate partner violence will be fatal, making gun ownership the single greatest risk factor for femicide. Firearms are also used by men in the context of coercive control to threaten, dominate, and terrorize female intimate partners. In rural Canada, they are the most common method used to murder an intimate partner or a child.
Since the bill’s introduction and over the past year and a half, NAWL has worked closely with gun control advocates and victims’ groups, communicated with Members of Parliament and Senators, and actively participated in consultations with the federal government. NAWL appeared before parliamentary committees, submitted briefs and proposed specific improvements to the bill.
NAWL’s advocacy on Bill C-21, along with other feminist organizations, was aimed at changing the conversation around gun control legislation, addressing disinformation by the gun lobby, and spotlighting the issues of women’s safety and intimate partner violence. NAWL proposed specific amendments which were adopted by the House of Commons to improve the provisions related to domestic violence.
Bill C-21 reflects the gendered dimensions of gun violence and offers women and children greater protection against such violence.
As founders and conveners of the #Women4GunControl coalition, which advocated for a ban on assault-style firearms last spring, we hope to see the government continue to act to keep weapons designed for military purposes out of our communities.