When Conservative Member of Parliament Candice Hoeppner put forth Bill C-391: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, she sought to scrap the long-gun registry and all of its nuisances.
On Sept. 22, members of Parliament voted 153 to 151 to keep the registry. The issue of registering a shotgun or rifle and having one’s name added to the database is one that is front and centre in communities in rural Canada, and many people there awaited the results of the vote with great interest.
It did go down to the wire, but in the end the Conservatives were the only party to fully support the scrapping of the registry. A coalition of the federal Liberal, Bloc and NDP members voted together to reject common sense and keep the registry, save for six NDP MPs who voted with the Conservatives to kill it.
Since its creation, the long-gun registry has had cost overruns totaling more than $2 billion. Each year, taxpayers must continue to contribute millions of dollars more to maintain and operate this registry. In the fallout of a recession, there are far more worthwhile issues and projects to invest in. This also isn’t just about dollars and cents. Simply put, the long-gun registry does not save lives or reduce crime in any way. It is a cumbersome mess which alienates rural Canadians from the rest of Canada. A firearm can always be used improperly, whether it is registered or not. It is presumptuous to think that law-abiding long-gun owners are more apt to commit crimes and thus must have tabs kept on them. The amount of red tape law-abiding long-gun owners must go through for hunting or target shooting is appalling, and some feel that the whole process makes them out to be second-class citizens.
It’s also foolhardy to think that criminals, the people who actually perpetrate gun crimes, will register their weapons in the first place. Rather than harassing honest citizens, the money wasted on this registry could be of much greater use in preventing gun crime if it were spent putting more police officers on the street.
The long-gun registry amounts to yet another imposition placed on rural Canadians, many of which are farmers and hunters. Long-gun owners are not limited to rural areas, of course, but there are certainly more there than in urban centres and cities. Judging by the way they voted on Sept. 22, rural Canadians now appear to be mere afterthoughts to the federal Liberal, NDP and Bloc parties.
Over the years, Canada’s population has become increasingly urbanized, and the rural population has decreased accordingly. Although the rural population may have declined, their importance as voters has not. The failure of the opposition parties to recognize that rural Canada is still relevant will likely not bode well for them come election time. It’s expected that the governing Conservatives will continue to make efforts to eliminate the registry in the next session of Parliament, but for now we’re left at square one.