It’s not fair, I suppose, to expect Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to have cleaned up all the inconsistencies on federal government websites in advance of his announcement yesterday that the long-gun registry is about to be, not only dismantled, but obliterated so all that expensively compiled data on guns can never be used again.
Still, I found it surprising that at the bottom of the background document his department provided yesterday, Abolishing the Long-Gun Registry: Proposed Reforms to the Firearms Act and Criminal Code, I found a note helpfully suggesting a visit to the RCMP’s Canada Firearms Program website.
Surprising because the RCMP has routinely provided, on that very website, sensible information about the registry and its usefulness, all running counter to Toews’ overheated arguments. Indeed, when I dutifully followed the link provided, I found myself reading the latest “facts and figures” released on the registry, under this brief explanatory note:
The registration of firearms links firearms and their licensed owners, thereby enhancing owners’ accountability for safe storage and use of firearms. A centralized, on-line, secure database of firearms information helps police and other public safety officials carry out investigations efficiently and effectively enabling them to quickly trace a firearm to its last lawful owner.
It’s hard to square that common-sensical summary of the aim of the registry with Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s comment yesterday, as she stood with Toews to announce the scrapping of the registry, that it had “unfairly targeted law-abiding Canadians, specifically law-abiding firearms owners, as criminals for simply owning a long gun.”
Regardless of whether the registry was worth the cost or not, how is it reasonable to declare that asking gun owners to register their weapons was tantamount to calling them criminals?
How is having to register a rifle or shotgun more of an affront than all of the elements of gun control that the Conservatives hasten to say they will retain, including the need to get a licence to own a gun, to pass a training course, to clear a police background check, and, yes, to register restricted firearms like handguns?
All these rules will continue to apply to law-abiding Canadians, and the imposition of them hardly amounts to calling those gun owners criminals. The registry was no different. Pretending it was is cynical in the extreme.