I strongly object to Stephen Harper's efforts to abolish the long gun registry.
As a responsible, law-abiding citizen, I was perfectly happy to register my firearms, just as I am perfectly happy to register my car. Why wouldn't I be? And yet from day one, certain factions have desperately tried to paint the long gun registry as an intolerable government intrusion into their lives, a trampling of their rights, and/or the prelude to some sort of totalitarian regime. Such notions sound more like the paranoid rantings of American militiamen than anything I would have imagined coming from the mouths of my fellow Canadians.
The fact is, Canadians do not have the right to bear arms. Never have. In this country, gun ownership is a privilege, and one that comes with profound responsibilities. We are required to undergo training to learn how to operate a firearm safely. We are required to store and transport our firearms securely in a locked safe or case. We are required to keep our licenses updated, and we are required to register our firearms so that a) they can be traced if stolen, and b) the police can have valuable information when entering into a volatile situation.
For a responsible gun owner, none of these things should be unreasonable or even particularly onerous. And in fact, I have met very few gun owners who particularly object to any of them. The ones who do seem to be those who own guns for very different reasons than I do. For me, a gun is a tool. A means to an end. For them, guns seem to have an emotional and symbolic resonance that I apparently fail to understand.
The biggest complaint about the registry is that it became incredibly expensive. What few seem to remember is that the original costing of the registry was based on having registration fees of (if I recall correctly) about $100 per gun. But some gun owners bitched and whined - mostly the ones who owned half a dozen firearms - and the fees were reduced. Then reduced again. Then eliminated altogether, leaving all taxpayers to foot the entire bill. That wasn't the entire reason for the cost overrun, but it was the most significant.
In addition, the efficacy of the long gun registry has been severely hampered by repeated amnesties. Resistant gun owners have been able to put off registering their firearms almost indefinitely as the government keeps the registry in political limbo. The result has been very spotty compliance and a total lack of enforcement, which in turn allows critics to condemn the registry as ineffective.
Instead of looking for ways to make the gun registry work in the way it was intended, successive governments have tried to dilute it or kill it by making concession after concession to those who claim to speak for all gun owners, hobbling the registry's effectiveness and in many ways making things more dangerous for the law enforcement officers it was designed to protect.
Those who view gun ownership as a right or as some sort of symbol of freedom or manhood do NOT speak for me, and I don't believe they speak for the majority of responsible gun owners. I therefore urge the government to commit to the long gun registry by a) re-instituting at least nominal registration fees to help cover administration costs, and b) ending the amnesty and instructing the Ministry and law enforcement to begin consistently enforcing compliance.
(forwarded to the Office of Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources)