Gun registry’s legacy — cre­at­ing need­less pa­per­work crim­i­nals

Winnipeg Sun - - COMMENT - LORNE GUNTER lgunter@post­

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 pro-registry 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, Alta., 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.


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