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OP-ED: MP misguided in gun registry support

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
November 18th, 2009

On Nov.4, our MP, Alex Atamanenko, voted against Bill C-391, which would scrap the long gun registry, throwing his support behind what has become known as the “$2 billion boondoggle”.

Why would our MP vote in favour of keeping the colossal waste of money?

He states that, “I believe the registry may be working. Between 1991 and 2007, the murder rate of women by firearms dropped by 67-per-cent total and the murder rate by rifles and shotguns has declined by 76 per cent.”

While I do not believe that Atamanenko intentionally set out to give misleading information, he did not give the full truth. According to Statistics Canada, the overall rate of homicides committed with a firearm has gradually declined between the mid-1970s and 2002.

Since then, this rate has generally been increasing.

Of the 200 firearm homicides in 2008, 121 or (61 per cent) were committed with a handgun, 34 with a rifle/shotgun and 17 with a sawed-off rifle/shotgun. Over the past 30 years, the use of handguns to commit homicide has generally been increasing, while the use of rifles or shotguns has generally declined … clearly showing that the homicide rate had been dropping 20 years prior to the long gun registry and that the only reason the murder rate by rifles and shotguns appears to be decreasing so significantly is because the use of handguns has been increasing.

It also appears that Atamanenko believes the exaggerations made about the reliance of law enforcement on the registry, knowing full well that every search of the Canadian Police Information Centre, for any reason generates an automatic search of the firearms registry.

As Simon Fraser University professor emeritus Gary Mauser confirmed, “While some police associations claim the registry works, it should be noted that these organizations are partially funded by groups that advocate greater gun control. Front line police officers do not trust the registry as an anti-crime tool.”

This sentiment was echoed by MP Candice Hoeppner in her first hour of debate for Second Reading, where she said, “In fact, 93 per cent of gun crimes in the last eight years have been committed with illegal guns and unregistered guns. That is a staggering statistic and one that flies in the face of any argument supporting the long gun registry. That is also why so many front-line police officers support ending the long gun registry. They recognize that this registry goes after the wrong group of people.”

As for the bureaucratic nightmare that gun owners face when they would have to register their guns, Atamanenko had this to say, “I didn’t find it to be any real hassle. It took me about half an hour to register my last one.”

But then he also said this, “There have been lots of examples in our riding where people have been hitting their heads against a stone wall and running into bureaucracy when they go to register. I see waste in the system and I see people getting frustrated.”

Which is it, are people getting frustrated by the bureaucracy or is it no real hassle?

Even though I would never want to believe that there is special treatment, and I am sure Atamanenko would never condone such treatment, but I would like to suggest that his registration may have been easier than most because the words ‘Member of Parliament’ accompany his name.

Atamanenko was also eager to point out that the Conservatives were withholding two reports in favour of the long gun registry, but at the same time neglected to mention that a legitimate fear of registered gun owners was realized; that in September 2009, the Canadian Firearms Center released gun owners’ names and addresses to a pollster for use in a survey, without their permission or the permission of the minister.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has asked the federal privacy commissioner to investigate, saying, “Contrary to policy, the Ministry of Public Safety was not asked to approve the polling. The government expressly disapproves of what occurred.”

It goes without saying that the long gun registry is a dismal failure and I am grateful to see that it’s on its way to being thrown onto the pile of bad ideas. It hasn’t kept guns out of criminals’ hands as was promised; it hasn’t lowered the rate of firearm-related homicide as was promised, in fact, said homicide rates have been increasing since 2002 and the registry has cost billions more than was promised.

I can see this, millions of Canadians can see this… so why can’t our MP see this?

Categories: Op/Ed

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