August 23, 2010

Canada needs to keep Long Gun Registry

By Charles Moffat - August 23rd 2010.

CANADA - 78% of all guns seized in crime busts are long guns, either rifles, shotguns or assault rifles. The Canadian Long Gun Registry, according to police chiefs across Canada, has been incredibly valuable in tracking these weapons and determining who has been selling these guns illegally to criminals.

It is true that handguns are used in a lot of crimes, but when it comes to police seizures what they've discovered is that criminals often have a large arsenal of weapons and rifles. (Author's note: I personally have a collection of airsoft and BB guns, but thankfully those are perfectly legal and just for target practice.) Thus even though people don't typical rob a place with a M4A1 assault rifle, that doesn't mean such weapons aren't being used in other crimes (such as whacking a rival drug dealer or mafia kingpin) and need to be tracked.

Canada's police chiefs have launched a large public relations campaign in support of the federal long-gun registry the Conservative government is trying to scrap. The recent meeting of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Edmonton concluded with a drafted report in which police chiefs state they want to set the record straight aboud the registry and that Conservative government is lying and creating misinformation about the effectiveness of the Long Gun Registry.

The report was supposed to be presented by RCMP Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak, but he was transferred from his post and ordered to take French language lessons as a punishment for supporting the Long Gun Registry. The Conservative government wants to get rid of the registry and isn't taking no for an answer, firing or transferring anyone who gets in their way. RCMP Commissioner William Elliott and Prime Minister Stephen Harper both denied Cheliak was removed because of his vocal support of the long-gun registry. The sudden switch to French lessons however suggests its definitely a punishment.

"Its a little frustrating quite frankly, because there's a lot of ideology mixed up in this," says Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs. The registry only costs a mere $4 million per year to operate and scrapping it would be silliness. "I think a lot of resentment around the gun registry comes from historical concerns [from] when the registry was set up."

The Long Gun Registry was first setup in 2002 under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien. Conservatives have been trying to scrap it ever since. A Conservative MP has tabled a private member's bill to scrap the registry and will be voted on in the Autumn.

Canadian police chiefs and police organizations across Canada say they support the registry and that its a valuable tool in assisting officers in doing their job of tracking down stolen or illegally sold firearms.

Author's Story: In 1992 I was walking across a farmer's field with my best friend and my little sister when a car pulled into the laneway near the barn. A man got out, pulled out a shotgun and started shooting at us. We ran for the treeline and jumped the fence. We thought we were safe when the final shot went whizzing less than a foot past my left ear. I now have permanent hearing damage. The man got in his car and drove away. We have no idea who he was because it was not the owner of the farm. It was just random redneck who apparently thought it would be fun to try and kill some children.

We have gun registries for the same reason we have license plates. It makes it a lot easier to track down the criminals.

See Also
Gun Control in Canada

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