Oct 20, 2010


Ottawa - On Sept. 22, a slim majority of politicians voted to save the federal long-gun registry in a closely watched vote in the House of Commons.

While media attention focused on conflict between urban and rural ridings, division between Canadian campus groups was apparent in the lead-up to the vote, as students from Ottawa and Montreal held competing rallies on Parliament Hill.

Members of the Firearms Association of Carleton University (FACU) rallied on the day of the vote, calling on federal politicians to kill the controversial program, which they called "wasteful and ineffective."

Just hours earlier, students from Montreal's Dawson College stood on the steps of Parliament, saying that the program saves lives.

Dawson College was the site of a deadly shooting spree by 25-year-old Kimveer Gill on Sept. 13, 2006.

Lisen Bassett, a student at Dawson College, attended the pro-registry rally at Parliament Hill, where she recounted the horror of Gill's rampage.

"At certain points, no one knew where the shooter was. People were running through the streets," she said.

"It was very shocking for this to happen so close to home, and to know so many people who were affected."

But according to Robert Ozimkowski, FACU's executive director of external affairs, the registry does not help reduce gun violence.

"The overwhelming majority of homicides by firearms in Canada are committed by non-licensed individuals with unregistered, illegal, and often smuggled pistols from the United States," Ozimkowski said in an email to the Leveller.  

However, Ariel Charney, chairperson of the Dawson Student Union (DSU), maintained that repealing the program would reduce the public safety of Canadians.

"Having those regulations for gun control allows the police, when they're doing investigations, to have more information about the suspects," she said.

According to critics of the registry, including members of the FACU, the program is too costly and targets the wrong people.

In a statement published on the FACU's Facebook page, club president and Campus Conservative executive member Brandon Wallingford said, "The people of Canada would rather have our money spent protecting us from criminals than punishing law-abiding citizens, farmers, and hunters."

The FACU, which was founded in 2009, is certified as a club under the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA), according to Khaldoon Bushnaq, CUSA's vice president of internal affairs.

According to a statement on the FACU's Facebook page, the group's goals include raising awareness on "the right to bear arms, and the benefits an armed populous [sic] provides to a safe and civil democracy."

The FACU also aims to train members in firearms safety and do public outreach work about guns "to help break the barriers of fear."

Club status entitles FACU to as much as $1100 per term in funds from CUSA. However, Ozimkowski told the Leveller that the FACU has not applied for any money from the student organization.

All FACU funds have come from member fees, Ozimkowski said.

This article originally appeared in The Leveller