Scrapping the long-gun registry

I appreciate the calls and emails that continue to come in to me supporting our Conservative government’s commitment to scrap the wasteful long gun registry. When the House of Commons reconvenes in September, Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner’s Private Members Bill C-391, to abolish the gun registry will be one of the first votes I cast on our behalf. This Bill is as close as we have come to eliminating the costs and hardship caused to rural Canadians, including duck hunters and farmers – law-abiding responsible firearms owners and users.

In the mid 1990s the Liberal government foisted this ‘tax’ and administrative nightmare on rural Canada and since then, the registry has proven to be a wasteful expenditure of over a billion taxpayer dollars and an ineffective means of reducing the criminal misuse of long guns – mostly in urban Canada.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has finished hearings on Bill C-391. Many witnesses testified that the long-gun registry does nothing to keep Canadians safe. After hearing from 33 witnesses and acting out of desperation, the opposition MPs on the committee formed a coalition to kill the bill. They used their combined majority to return the bill to the House of Commons with a recommendation to kill it – before the House even votes on it at third reading.

This coalition of MPs are no doubt relieved to hear of the recent announcement of support for the long gun registry by Bill Blair, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and head of Toronto’s police department. Yet again, what we are seeing is urban Canada ‘pitted’ against rural Canada. The Chiefs of Police are completely ignoring the experienced front-line police officers who appeared as witnesses before the Public Safety Committee and testified that the registry is actually a potential hazard to any police officer who uses it.

Former inspector Jack Tinsley, who is now retired after 33 years as a Winnipeg police officer, was a member of the SWAT team and a team leader of the sniper unit. He told the committee that the registry is a waste of time and money. He also said that many officers who oppose the registry did not provide input to the committee debate because they feared it could have a detrimental effect on their career advancement. “Hundreds of currently serving police officers…have been effectively silenced after making it known that they also believe the long-gun registry is ineffective…” testified Inspector Tinsley, “To be blunt, they’ve been ordered not to appear at this hearing by their respective chiefs of police.”

Twenty Opposition MPs voted in support of Bill C-391 enabling it to proceed through Parliament and be heard by the Public Safety Committee. The next vote, probably in September, will send the Bill to the Senate if it is passed. The Liberal leader has already said he will ‘whip’ the vote of the eight Liberals who supported C-391 forcing them to oppose it. Canadians will see if 12 NDP MPs – from largely rural ridings – also vote against their constituents.

In the run-up to the vote on Bill C-391, I remind everyone that with a majority of seats in the House of Commons, our Conservative government would have dismantled the long-gun registry three years ago. Regardless of the outcome of the coming vote on C-391, we remain committed to ending the ineffective and costly long-gun registry.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail sorenk1@parl.gc.ca.

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