Shock! Horror! American gun lobby group helps Canadian counterparts! - Macleans.ca

Shock! Horror! American gun lobby group helps Canadian counterparts!

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Last night the CBC reported that America’s National Rifle Association has cooperated with Canadian lobby groups opposing the gun registry. The NRA hasn’t spent any money in Canada, but Canadian gun advocate Tony Bernardo says it has given “logistical support” to a Canadian lobby group and “they freely give us anything else,” although he did not elaborate.

How did CBC’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Diana Swain uncover this scandalous bit of information? Bernardo said so in a published interview a decade ago.

The CBC’s report included a clip from Michael Bryant, formerly Ontario’s attorney general, who said: “I got elected in 1999 and I became aware soon after of the NRA’s involvement in the debate — not in a huge way, but in a significant way.” What significant things did they do, Michael? He wasn’t asked.

Other examples in the CBC report of the NRA’s involvement in Canada’s gun registry debate include former NRA president Charlton Heston showing up at a meeting of the BC Wildlife Federation, also a decade ago; and NRA members coming to meetings of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association as speakers and to provide “political action” training.

It’s a weak foundation to build a story on. I’m pretty sure Oxfam’s head office in Britain gives advice to its Canadian branch, for example. But the whole tone of the CBC’s report — based on publicly available information that nobody had tried to hide — implied they had discovered some sort of sinister plot.

As for the gun registry, I personally don’t like it. I resent the money so far wasted. I’m not convinced by police claims that it’s necessary for them to do their job. And I find arguments linking the need for a gun registry to the Ecole Polytechnique massacre distasteful and insulting.

I own a few guns that were given to me by my father. He grew up in the city but spent several formative years north of Lake Superior as a young man 50 years ago. Everybody hunted up there. My father learned. And the lifestyle planted in him a love of the outdoors that never left him. I don’t think he’s shot anything since, but I spent much of my childhood summers fishing and canoeing with him. They are among my fondest memories.

When he gave me his rifles and shotgun last year I wasn’t in a hurry to register them. I did when I brought the shotgun to a local gunsmith to get it repaired and he wouldn’t do the work without seeing proof of registration. The whole registration process took me maybe 30 minutes on the Internet. I didn’t hear jackboots marching up the stairs when I clicked “Send.”

I guess my point is that while I think the gun registry is unnecessary, emotions-driven legislation, and I do fear that many advocates of the registry will not be satisfied with it but will continue to seek new ways to restrict gun use and ownership, I can’t say registering my firearms was much of an imposition. I just wish I could oppose the registry without watching news reports suggesting I’m an NRA dupe.