The Conservative government has kept another long awaited promise. Emboldened by a shiny new majority with no effective opposition, it decided now was the time to kill the much vaunted and hated long gun registry.
One could argue that the RCMP’s coincidental announcement that it is buying carbines for some members is welcome news. After all long gun owners can now go on a spending spree to stock up on their weapons of choice so police might as well raise the ante.
A year ago I commented about the long gun registry and it is certainly worth repeating an angle not thought of during this entire debate. The notion of responsible firearms ownership has never really been discussed.
My opinion (mine alone) is that the registry has never worked as a tool for police or method to reduce crime and violence. Neither has it been a tool of taxation, an attempt to disarm the citizenry or a police power grab to create a sinister dark oligarchy. If people take off the various rose and dark coloured glasses provided by political hacks and self-interest groups, the reality becomes a little clearer.
The registry is about responsible ownership. Gun owners who say they are law abiding citizens yet break the law by not registering them are trying to suck and blow at the same time. A responsible owner surely wants to demonstrate that responsibility, not for the sake of police or politicians but for family, neighbours and community.
If I live next door to a person who enjoys his firearms collection yet rails against laws designed to make them responsible for possessing them, what does that tell me about the security of my household? A neighbour who can convince me that he is abiding by proper rules of safety and laws regarding firearm ownership has my confidence.
This is exemplified through Blue Line Magazine’s firearms editor, Dave Brown, who states that he enjoys firearms and collecting so much he has no problem taking the extra effort to register them and abide by all the laws that go along with that.
Most of us similarly enjoy cars and have no problem with far more extensive rules – testing, regulations, licensing and higher fees than the long gun registry. Going through these processes indicates responsible ownership and demonstrates this to our neighbours and communities.
We are all aware of individuals who cut corners, fail to get insurance or register change of ownership, let their vehicles become unsafe and drink and drive. Every responsible citizen would look upon most of this as being irresponsible.
Firearm lobby groups and some politicians demand no registration for rifles and shotguns. They have no issue with owners being licensed to possess a firearm, nor being screened and tested by police to purchase them – but want to keep private the models, number of guns and serial numbers that they own. It defeats my understanding of what’s rational.
Police chiefs say their officers often access the registry and that it has made them safer and, in some ways, has saved lives. They have somehow confused the purpose of the registry and seem to think evidence of extensive use is a good thing. In most police training officers are encouraged to use their authority with discretion and restraint. The old adage, “if you abuse it, you lose it,” sums this up quite well.
Applying this to the now doomed long gun registry, we find an attitude of wholesale usage of information for legitimate or spurious motives. Introducing a police tool with no protocols is asking for trouble. An officer investigating a bicycle theft has no reason to check the registry, yet this happens at many agencies, artificially inflating usage and, by suggestion, validating its existence. The most potentially dangerous scenario would be an officer letting down his guard after finding there are no firearms registered to an address.
The registry went through a considerable crucible of fire. Originally a simple process, it very quickly became a nightmare for registrants and a boondoggle for statisticians wanting information and politicians looking for advantage. Lost in all the ensuing hoopla was the idea of demonstrating responsible gun ownership and encouraging acceptance by keeping to the basic tombstone data. Name, make, calibre, serial number and address.
The money to build the registry has, rightly or wrongly, already been blown and we must salvage what we can, discarding portions if need be but not the whole thing. That would be irresponsible management of money spent. If a house is extravagantly built the wrong way we don’t put it in the dumpster. Even if the structure is unsafe, there is something that can be salvaged. If it is too expensive to maintain then reset it so it will be more economical.
We should at least be able to salvage the values of responsible gun ownership to the benefit of responsible gun owners.