A registry of problems
As I sit to write this column, Wednesday evening, Sept. 22, the province is reeling from the effects of Hurricane Igor. Here, in the village of Mahers, we got off fairly easily. We didn’t lose power and so far the bridge is still in place, although the water is lapping at the top of it and threatening to run over it the last time I checked. There’s lots of windfalls; big, old vars mainly. They’ll burn good next winter.
The matter of the gederal Gun Registry has been settled, for now. The matter was voted on in the House of Commons today. The Conservative attempt to scrap the long gun registry was voted down by a narrow margin, 151 in favour of canning the registry, and 153 in favour of maintaining it.
At least the government of the Right Honorable Stephen Harper kept his promise to try and remove the controversial and costly long gun registry.
I hope Danny is happy. His ABC campaign sent a posse of pushovers to Ottawa. All the hunters in this province who voted for Liberal MPs got what they voted for. For a while, early in the spring, it looked like Scott Andrews was going to break ranks with his Liberal Party. But they got to him.
I personally think all shotguns and bolt-action/lever action rifles should be exempted from registration. The aforementioned weapons are hunting tools. On the other hand, I believe automatic weapons and all handguns should only be permitted to be owned by police, military or other personnel such as security guards.
Just think about the storm damages in this province from Igor. Bridges and roads washed out. Power lines downed by trees. Millions of dollars in damages.
Now consider the billions spent on the gun registry since the federal Liberals, led by justice minister Alan Rock, introduced gun registration.
In the time since gun registration has been introduced and implemented, there has been no decrease in the homicide rate or the armed robbery rate, or gang related violence in big cities. Lawabiding hunters registered their guns for fear of going to jail, while criminals kept on breaking the laws with unregistered guns.
For example, four RCMP officers were ambushed and shot in Mayerthorpe, Sask., long after Mr. Rock’s registry was implemented. If a criminal is going to break the law, chances are he’s not too concerned about whether or not his firearm is registered.
Wouldn’t the billions spent on the registry have been better put into a contingency fund for such emergencies as the response to Igor?
What about the law enforcement personnel administering the registry? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have these officers on the streets after the pimps and pushers and gangs and bomb-making terrorists?
Mr. Rock said gun registration would prevent crimes and make Canada safer. I think the years have proven this to be untrue.
Gun registration was a national issue that he desperately needed to boost his profile to try and pad his run for the leadership of the then-governing Liberals, i. e. the prime minister’s chair.
Did you know that while the federal government was implementing gun registration and criminalizing law-abiding hunters, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador cancelled its big game shooting test.
I’d say if we want a safer country, then bring in mandatory shooting tests for new big game hunters.
Back when I first entered the big game draw, around 1983, I had to go out to the Rod and Gun Club on the Trans-Canada Highway and put three shots from fifty yards into a sixteen-inch by sixteen-inch target. A wildlife officer named Jed Gamberg administered the test.
Now new hunters are just turned loose into the field. Their rifles might be registered, but many hunters have never even fired them, let alone practiced to achieve a level of proficiency.
Now conside r this. This province has no law requiring hunters to wear blaze orange. At present there is a case before the courts of an American woman who mistakenly shot her husband while on a bear hunting trip to a central Newfoundland outfitter’s lodge.
I wonder if that man had been wearing blaze orange, even just a ball cap, would he still be alive?
And that woman came to Newfoundland as a high-paying guest of an outfitter. How come there is no law requiring her or any visiting hunters to demonstrate proficiency with their rifle before entering the field? We have hundreds of hunters coming here each fall to harvest bears, moose and the few remaining caribou.
Gun registration does not make cities safer. At the same time, not testing new big game hunters and visiting hunters makes the woods more dangerous.
Darrin McGrath is the author of eight books including The Newfoundland Coyote and Moose Country. Reach Darrin firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com,> , or 690-6790, or leave a message at The Compass.