Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shooting down gun registry long overdue

Canada’s long gun registry is a $2 billion debacle that has done nothing to make you safer and much to criminalize hunters, farmers and other legitimate users.

If you take a drive by (or witness one) in the Lower Mainland there is no shortage of gang members packing hand guns and fully automatic weapons.

This despite the fact we have required the registration of hand guns in Canada since 1934 and fully automatic weapons have been banned for decades.

The shocking thing, at least amongst the urbane naïve, is that criminals tend by definition to break the law.

But the long gun registry was so onerous and so ineptly implemented that it became widely flouted by many peaceful citizens particularly those living in rural Canada.

There have been many city police Chiefs who have spoken out against the impending demise of the long gun registry, but let’s face it the police like having as much data as possible on you and they like the idea that they are the only ones with guns.

Unfortunately so do criminals.

That is why in countries such as Britain that have banned firearms violent crime rates have sky rocketed, whereas in countries like Switzerland where every household is required to have a rifle, home invasions and other such gun violence are virtually unheard of.

Despite Canada having a higher rate of per capita gun ownership than the United States our murder rate is much lower and most murders in Canada are committed with knives not guns.

Perhaps it’s time we made every household register their flatware.

In July of this year three cougars were killed within a two week period near Princeton, BC.

All three had been killed after being seen stalking humans. The first was shot by a conservation officer and the third by an RCMP officer.

But the second one was shot by a Princeton area resident as he saw stalking two girls who were tubing down a river.

If that rural resident had not had a rifle both of those girls would likely have been either horribly maimed or died an absolutely horrific death by being mauled to death and then eaten.

Those with criminal intent will always have access to guns, knives, or even baseball bats.

Should we be forced to cut our steak with a plastic butter knife or shut down the baseball leagues our children play in? Of course not.

Nor should we continue to harass farmers and hunters with a long gun registry that has served only to spur on criminals while deterring legitimate users.

So kudos to the Harper Conservatives and kudos to those brave Liberal and NDP MPs who have finally listened to the views of Canada’s rural constituents, by voting to kill the long gun registry.

Its demise was long overdue.

Mike Geoghegan is a government relations consultant based in Victoria, BC. He can be reached via his website at or on twitter @bclobbyist

This column was published on Page 5 of the Thursday November 26, 2009 edition of 24hours Vancouver, available at finer skytrain stations and those nifty orange newspaper boxes.