Canadians have spent $2 billion on a long-gun registry that’s neither of use to police nor a deterrent to criminals. The time to abolish this wasteful program is now.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned in the wild world of politics, and my effort to scrap the long-gun registry is a case in point. One wouldn’t have thought its abolition would be so difficult to obtain.
The long-gun registry, which was introduced in 1995, has cost Canadians some $2 billion, and yet has not delivered the one service it was supposedly created to provide: an increase in public safety. As the Liberals who introduced the list might have expected, criminals do not register their guns; instead, the registry is merely an attempt to lay a piece of paper beside every legal firearm owned by law-abiding citizens.
Since the vast majority of gun crime is executed using illegal weapons (by last count, only 7 per cent of firearm homicides were committed using registered firearms), Canadian taxpayers have spent $2 billion to create a list that is neither of significant use to police nor an effective deterrent to criminals.
These are some of the reasons I have loudly opposed this flawed program since its inception. To abolish it now would pose no threat to public safety, would relieve law-abiding gun-owners of the onerous and unfair regulations to which they are now subject, and would save taxpayers the projected $1 billion it would cost to complete this wasteful list.
To this end, I tabled my Private Members’ Bill C-301 in early February. Besides the abolition of the registry, my bill also contained a few housekeeping items that would have simplified procedures without reducing public safety. For example, I suggested extending the term of all gun licenses to 10 years and asking the Auditor General to regularly review all firearms regulations to see if they were cost-effective. Unfortunately, these attempts to save money were identified as unpalatable to some opposition members, and as our minority government needs the support of a dozen opposition members for a vote to pass, the bill looked as though it would be defeated.
At nearly the same time, the Minister of Public Safety introduced Bill S-5 into the Senate to scrap the long-gun registry, but it too contained some secondary details that were unacceptable to some.
Rather than giving up, however, we came up with another plan. Candice Hoeppner, M.P. for Portage-Lisgar in Manitoba, stepped forward with a new Private Members’ Bill that focuses solely on scrapping the long-gun registry, and should therefore be more acceptable to some opposition MPs.
Bill C-391 has the focus that we believe will find wider support in Parliament, and it is the bill I am now actively supporting. For this reason, I seconded it in the House when it was tabled on May 15 and I will do everything I can to assist Ms. Hoeppner in bringing it to fruition. I am honoured to continue to lead the charge, alongside Ms. Hoeppner, toward fairer firearm policies and cost-effective crime-fighting measures.
There are still many Canadians who are wrongly informed by the powerful anti-firearms lobby. These lobbyists would have us believe that firearms owned by sport shooters often end up in the hands of criminals, though this is not the case; or that abolishing the registry would mean depriving police of a useful tool to determine who owns firearms. Under Bill C-391, farmers, sport shooters and hunters would still be required to obtain a license before acquiring and possessing a firearm.
We need to stop pretending that the registry fights crime. Canadians deserve better than the continuation of this wasteful and ineffective program. We should instead be investing the money that is being squandered on the registry in real public safety measures like more police officers going after real criminals and equipped with better crime-fighting technology. That’s how to take on the criminals and build a safer society.