Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long Gun Registry Set to Die

Since its beginning, the Long Gun Registry has been one of the most controversial issues in Canadian politics. Currently, gun owners are subject to criminal charges if they fail to go through the red tape of registering their firearms or if they inadvertently allow their firearms license to expire. The long gun registry is essentially a computer database of rifles and shotguns; the serial number, manufacturer, model, barrel length and caliber are all recorded, along with the registered owner. When introduced by the Liberals in the mid 1990's it was given an estimated cost of two million dollars. To date, the exact amount of taxpayer money that has been wasted on the registry is unknown, because according to a report from the Auditor General, the Liberal government of the day "went to great lengths to hide the cost". Moderate estimates are that more than two billion dollars have been spent.

Advocates of the registry argue that it is an invaluable asset for police, and that it helps to prevent violence against women. Opponents state that the registry has become a billion dollar boondoggle, wasted taxpayer dollars, and added unnecessary red tape to the lives of farmers, hunters, and sport shooters, without assisting public safety.

Support for, or opposition to the registry have been key platform planks of both the Liberal and Conservative parties for years, with the Liberals steadfastly supporting their creation and the Conservatives vowing to abolish it. Last year the issue came to a head over Bill C-391, a private members bill that would have scrapped the registry. The bill came within two votes of passing the House of Commons, but the last minute withdrawal of support from key NDP caucus members allowed the bill to die.

Now, with a Harper majority sitting in the house, the registry’s life expectancy is short indeed. Harper has majorities in both the house and the senate and whatever bill the Conservatives propose to scrap the registry will pass very quickly. Like it or hate it, the Long Gun Registry is drawing to an end.

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