THUNDER BAY – On Tuesday the federal Conservatives tabled legislation to end Canada’s long gun registry. The move is one that the Conservative Party has promised it would do for over ten years. Earlier attempts to end the registry came close in the previous parliament. The last effort resulted in a 153-151 vote in the House of Commons. Long-time critic of the federal registry Garry Breitkreuz MP said in the Commons on Tuesday, “Today is a huge day in our government’s commitment to eliminate the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. I personally would like to thank the Prime Minister and our caucus for their support over the years as we exposed what a sham this registry is. For me, this is like payday after almost 18 years of exposing the registry as having nothing to do with effective gun control measures.
“Canadians have recognized that the long gun registry is a waste of taxpayers’ money. They replaced the member for Ajax—Pickering with a strong Conservative voice. They replaced the member for Yukon with a strong Conservative voice. They replaced the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming with a strong Conservative voice. Those defeated MPs listened to their Ottawa bosses rather than their constituents. In fact, this issue was important in giving Canada a strong, stable, majority Conservative government. Finally, long gun owners in Canada will no longer be unfairly targeted by a wasteful, paper-pushing exercise”.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae counters, “The gun registry is used by law enforcement across the country over 11,000 times a day,” said Mr. Rae. “Police Chiefs, front-line officers, emergency room doctors, paediatricians, nurses, women’s groups and others all insist the gun registry saves lives. But this government will not listen, they will not be reasoned with and they refuse to allow anything to stand in the way of killing this important public safety tool.”
Politically, the gun registry has been a wedge issue in Canada.
Supporters of the registration of guns include the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, The Coalition for Gun Control and other groups who feel that the registration process makes Canada a safer place. Opponents, including hunting and shooting organizations, some police departments, and many front-line police officers have expressed that the registry does not achieve its stated goals, and diverts resources away from efforts that would really help fight crime.
“The bill is a reflection of the government’s longstanding commitment to scrap the long gun registry, which has been subject to massive cost overruns, repeated breeches of security, chronic inaccuracies and a failure to fulfill its mandate of reducing gun crime and enhancing public safety,” said Mike Reader, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter Executive Director. “The Prime Minister has consistently pledged to rid us of this costly albatross, which has cost Canadian taxpayers almost $2 billion dollars, and the introduction of the legislation is tangible proof of that commitment. Supporters of the system have repeatedly stated that it works, but have consistently failed to provide anything more than empty rhetoric to support that contention.”
Barbara Byers, Executive-Vice President, Canadian Labour Congress states, “Canada’s unions stand behind the registry as an important tool to keep workplaces and communities safe. Rifles and shotguns are the firearms that have figured prominently in workplace violence involving guns. The public inquest into the OC Transpo shooting in Ottawa recommended specifically the licensing of gun owners and registration of firearms. We stand with the police officers, first responders and other front-line workers across this country who say it is an important tool and a health and safety issue. Registering firearms does not demonize gun owners any more than registering a car demonizes car owners.”
The Conservative Government is already moving on several other issues, which have been political bedrock for the party. The Canadian Wheat Board, the crime bill, and the gun registry represent campaign promises made by the party over the past decades.
The move to dismantle the long gun registry does not end safety training, storage laws, or gun licencing. The Conservative Government move to kill the long gun registry is destined to succeed. While that will likely not end the debate on gun control in Canada, it is likely that for now, the idea of registering the rifles and shotguns has likely ended in Canada for the foreseeable future.
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