Stephen Harper is playing to his core constituents, not to the benefit of Canadians, with the party’s latest attempt to shoot down the gun registry. That Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said he’ll have his caucus vote against a Tory private member’s bill that would scrap the registry has sent the Conservatives into heavy campaigning and fundraising mode.
The government is pushing hard for eight Liberals who previously broke ranks on the registry to vote with it on Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner’s bill. Without some support from the opposition, the bill will die due to the Tory minority.
A vote on the bill is expected in the next couple of months.
Harper has long had the gun registry in his sights. Upon becoming prime minister in 2006, he quickly set about angling for its demise. That change, however, has not been quick in coming, as the Tories found themselves stymied at every turn by opposition parties and by public opinion, including police associations.
No one would argue the gun registry introduced by the Liberals has been anything but a boondoggle. Originally budgeted to cost the government a couple of million dollars, with most of expenses covered by registration fees, the project quickly became a $1-billion sinkhole.
Axing the gun registry now is something of a closing-the-barn-door scenario: a little too late. The wasteful program should have been scrapped years ago, before taxpayers were gouged for its creation.
Even under the best-case scenario, the firearms registry would have done little to reduce gun-related incidents in this country. Instead, legitimate gun owners, already supervised by pre-existing measures, have been subjected to unnecessary hassles and extra expenses.
Supporters of the registry to this day cannot prove a single benefit derived from an inefficient system, by definition incomplete, inaccurate and out of date. The registry is hardly a reason for anybody to feel safer. And that, after all, is the goal.
The debate is divided along urban and rural lines. Urban Canadians are increasingly worried about crime. Some people in rural areas see the registry as intrusive. In the end, the numbers mean the urban vote is far more important.
On the extreme fringe of the argument, gun advocates argue for greater access to guns, saying armed civilians could protect themselves from criminals.
The latter arguments are commonplace in the U.S., where second amendment – the right to keep and bear arms – issues abound. In Canada, the notion seems ridiculous: having more guns at hand increases the risk. It would be far more likely for someone to see red, snap and use a readily available gun than it would be for someone to be faced with a murderer on a shooting rampage.
According to the Canadian Coalition for Gun Control, the U.S. gun death rates are far higher than other industrialized countries, and among the highest recorded in the world.While Canada and the U.S. have comparable rates of homicides without guns, the American firearm homicide rate is five times Canada’s.
The registry is a fiasco, but is no reason to diminish real and effective gun controls.