In a recent opinion piece in the Toronto Star titled Gun Control is a Women's Issue, YWCA CEO Heather McGregor uses gender to imply Canadian women may meet their peril at the hands of sport shooters.
This comes as no surprise to anyone, with the recent string of lies that have been exposed, the anti-gun side of this debate is particularly desperate to control the narrative. When you're running low on public support and sympathy, you'll do anything to stay in the conversation. The truth is, gender does play a role in this sport. A big one. Women are the #1 fastest growing sector of the shooting sports - a fact that has been well established.
Maybe gun rights are a women's issue. Let's explore this further …
Women across the country are taking on more leadership roles in the firearms industry whether it be in advocacy, ranges and clubs, retailers, outfitting and guiding, hunting or a myriad of other branches of the community. We see women being elected to the executive of gun clubs and ranges from coast to coast. We have women representing Canada on the international Olympic stage. There is precisely one in-house, registered lobbyist for firearm rights in Canada and, you guessed it - a woman.
The CCFR sponsors a young Cornwall native, Mary Patrick. Mary is an engineering student and a super star on the Canadian national team. Michelle Rempel, a Calgary area Member of Parliament got her restricted firearms license and bought her first handguns this year and has been an outspoken voice for gun owners. Amanda Lynn Mayhew is an icon in the Canadian hunting industry with her own national TV show, "Just Hunt". She also hosts a series of women's range days and hunting workshops to introduce more women to the sport. Kelly Wheaton of the CCFR resides over our very own women's program that has seen hundreds of new female shooters enter our ranks as gun owners. Kelly also leads Project Mapleseed, a grassroots marksmanship program aimed at improving firearm proficiency and accuracy. Lynda Keijko is a Canadian Olympian who sits as vice chair on the federal government's Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee. Tracey Wilson is the Vice President of Public Relations for the CCFR and the only in house registered gun lobbyist in Canada.
The list goes on and on.
Between 2001 and 2010 women target shooters have risen 43% and hunting has risen 37%. Those numbers continue to rise as more and more women are being introduced to the sport and it's varying genres. An increasing number of women are working in fields that were generally dominated by men such as policing, Border Services, Corrections and personal protection and they are now required to obtain their PAL and RPAL to be considered for the hiring process.
Let's not play down the seriousness of domestic violence, but at the same time let's at least be honest with the information. Statistics Canada, the government's own data shows us that less than 1% of all domestic violence situations involved a firearm. Why is the Coalition for Gun Control and the YWCA manufacturing a false hysteria that somehow women are in grave danger with firearms in our society? Because it's emotional and it scares Canadians. It's also false but since when did facts matter to these people. If they put half the effort into demanding credible work on crime as they do harassing target shooters, they may stand a chance at being impactful. The government's report on family violence show male victims of domestic violence are on the rise, more likely to suffer an injury and more likely to be harmed or threatened with a weapon such as a knife or a firearm. Firearms are still the least used weapon in domestic violence of any type.
If these groups were serious about helping women escape violence they would be honest about the data. Wouldn't the considerable resources expended on more gun control measures for sport shooters be better allocated to programs and initiatives to help women escape their situations or provide them resources to start anew with their children?
Not to mention the very taboo subject of self defence … a topic that anti gunners are just not ready to have.
To take this conversation a step further let's talk about empowerment. Target shooting is the one sport where gender, age, physical ability or athleticism don't play a significant role in the success of the athlete. The shooting sports are in fact, gender neutral. Many would say that women are actually naturally better shots, to the chagrin of their male counterparts. Women across the country report that they feel empowered and accomplished as they become more proficient with their firearms. There is no doubt that there is true equality on the playing field we call "the gun range". Women are no longer the tender flowers they once were. They are powerful, spirited and accomplished in the firearms industry in Canada and our sport is alive and well.
McGregor is wrong. Gun control is not a gendered issue and the mere implication of this is insulting to women across the nation. Women play an ever increasing vital role in the shooting sports and the firearms industry.
We are still waiting for any of these female gun control advocates to do what our own female lobbyist has done consistently since our inception, demand the government take swift and credible action to combat violence by criminals and gangs.
We won't hold our breath …