After the Chretien Liberal government spent years (and billions of tax dollars) trying to make criminals of every hunter, farmer, collector and target shooter with a gun, Canada’s firearms community has every right to worry the Trudeau administration intends to restore the reviled long-gun registry disbanded by the Conservative government more than five years ago.
Their fears are based on proregistry remarks Justin Trudeau made in 2012, during his bid for the Liberal leadership, and pro-control promises he made during the last election. In 2015, Trudeau bemoaned the way the Harper Tories had “steadily weakened our gun laws” and promised to do everything necessary “to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets.”
The latter statement may not sound like a direct threat to restore the registry. But going after thugs, gang members and smugglers with street guns is very dangerous and expensive. So Liberals often choose the easy way out and burden legitimate owners, instead, just so they can give the appearance of taking action.
So far, the Trudeau Liberals seem acutely aware of gunowners’ fears.
Back in February, for instance, when Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced he would shortly make good on the Liberals’ campaign pledge to “take pragmatic action to make it harder for criminals to get, and use, handguns and assault weapons,” he felt it necessary to meet first behind closed doors with Liberal MPs from largely rural ridings.
Goodale also brought Justice Minister Jody WilsonRaybould along to reassure the government’s rural caucus his law to preserve an archive of old firearms records was not really a stealthy attempt to resurrect the registry.
The fear of such a “backdoor” registry is very real among gunowners, and rightly so.
Recall that during the tumultuous flooding in High River, Alberta in the spring of 2013, Mounties went door-todoor breaking into hundreds of homes looking for firearms. In the name of finding survivors, officers searched homes that were untouched by flood waters but where, it was later learned, there were registry records of guns in the home.
During some searches, Mounties also seemed to be checking list of guns from the registry, even though all registry records were supposed to have been deleted nearly a year earlier.
But what if the Liberals have figured out they don’t need a new registry to achieve their ultimate goal or a Canada in which only the police and military have guns?
A new study by emeritus business professor and firearms researcher Gary Mauser, released on Thursday, shows that despite gun-controllers rhetoric about concentrating on criminals misusing firearms, it has been legitimate gunowners who have born the brunt of federal firearms enforcement.
Mauser discovered that between 1998, when the Liberals’ registry came into effect, and 2016 there were an average 3,000 registration-related firearms charges laid each year. In 96% of those cases, the registry-related charges were the only ones filed.
Put another way, in only four percent of registryrelated charges was any violence alleged.
The Chretien registry did exactly what gunowners predicted it would do — create a new class of paperwork criminal.
The registry did not scoop up a lot of real criminals in its net — murderers, robbers, drug dealers. Those criminals were never going to abide by laws requiring them to register their guns.
Instead, the registry, even under the Harper Tories, created upwards of 3,000 “criminals” a year. Their only crime was failing to complete Ottawa’s draconian paperwork or comply with the feds’ ultraconfusing “safe storage” rules.
But because the Liberals were so obsessed with their registry in the 1990s, they made administrative infractions into crimes and thus disarmed as many as 60,000 otherwise law-abiding citizens.