Gun registry in Tory sights

The long-gun registry is finally on its way out, but not the licensing, training or police background checks required to own a firearm in Canada.

The long-gun registry is finally on its way out, but not the licensing, training or police background checks required to own a firearm in Canada.

And all the information farmers and hunters were forced to provide the registry since it started in 1995 will be destroyed, according to Mark Strahl, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP.

“Our streets and communities will be made safer by targeting those who actually commit crimes, and leaving the law-abiding farmers and hunters alone,” he said.

Melvin Dureen, president of the Chilliwack Fish & Game Club, said scrapping the registry is “long overdue,” and he wondered how many lives might have been saved if the more than $2 billion spent on the program over the past 16 years had been directed elsewhere.

He said the registry punished law-abiding citizens by charging them with a criminal offense for minor violations like failing to register or improper storage, yet it did little to prevent real crimes.

Registration of handguns and other restricted or prohibited weapons will still be required in Canada, and all gun owners will need to obtain a licence and undergo training and police background checks.

In 2006, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser blasted the Liberal government for twice misinforming Parliament about over-spending at the Canada Firearms Centre that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

She also reported that the computerized registry was costing three times more than promised by the Liberals, and could not show how it was improving public safety.

Some police chiefs believed the registry did improve the safety of officers responding to volatile situations like domestic disputes.

But Dureen said officers didn’t need to know the make and model of long guns provided by the registry, all the information needed for the safety of officers would be available through licensing.

For rifle owners worried about Big Government interference, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said registry records will be destroyed to prevent future governments from ever bringing back the program.

“Well, we know what’s clear in terms of what the NDP’s plan is,” he told a CTV reporter. “They want to retain these records in order to recreate that registry as soon as possible.”

New Democratic and Liberal opposition foiled earlier Conservative government attempts to scrap the registry, but now the new Tory majority is expected to approve the legislation introduced Tuesday.