A registry of prob­lems

The Compass - - OPINION -

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 mc­grath­dar­rin@ya­hoo.ca <mailto:mc­grath­dar­rin@ya­hoo.ca,> , or 690-6790, or leave a mes­sage at The Com­pass.

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