Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association
Association canadienne des propriétaires d’armes sans permis

A Cancer of the Soul

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On February 17, 2011, I attended a rally in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where Conservative MP Candice Hoppner was the guest speaker. At that meeting, Ms. Hoppner gave a presentation, followed by a question period.

Ms. Hoppner spoke about the "myths and mistruths" surrounding the issue of her firearm Bill C-391. One of these myths, she contended, was the opposition's misrepresentation of the costs of what she called the "long gun registry". In the question period, I took her to task on her own party's myth- that the 1-2 billion spent to this point on the Firearms Act ("long gun registry") was caused by the "registry". Likewise the ongoing estimated costs of 70 -108 million dollars a year she attributed to the "registry" accrue, for the most part, to licensing. The majority of the costs, both past and ongoing, are related to the new licensing requirement of the Firearms Act. As one example, readers may recall the licensing application sessions in their local mall that set taxpayers back 60 million dollars. Despite some prying, the best I could get Ms. Hoppner to admit was that some of the costs were overlapping. The reality is, the opposition's accounting is more accurate than the Conservatives.

Ms. Hoppner told the assembly she disagreed with gun owners being turned into "paper criminals because you did not register your firearm". After pointing out that Nova Scotia has just under 100,000 licensed gun owners and about the same amount that refused or neglected to obtain a license, I suggested that the case was the same for unlicensed gun owners and that it is equally unacceptable. Before the Firearms Act ("long gun registry") background checks were already required to obtain a firearm. With the full implementation of the Act, those gun owners were now criminals if their papers are not in order. The crux of the matter is that criminalization is of much greater significance than the requirement of owner licensing and registration of their firearms. With that type of treatment it is little wonder the majority of gun owners were vehemently opposed to the Firearms Act. Had they been presented with a regulatory system the equivalent of automobile owner licensing and the registration of their vehicles, the outcome would have been much different.

After outlining the Conservative Party's two private members bills in the house and their government bill in the Senate, I asked her a pointed question. Would the Conservative party, after three insignificant bills, introduce a bill that would decriminalize both licensing and registration requirements? Ms. Hoppner stated that she would not introduce a bill that included any changes on licensing. I then suggested that under those conditions, a vote for the Conservatives would solve nothing.

In closing, I asked a supplementary question regarding registration in her Bill C-391. Under her Bill if a gun owner transferred a firearm they would have to call the Canadian Firearms Center (CFC) to report the transfer. My question was, if the CFC asked for the serial number of that firearm would that not still be registration, only without the benefit of a plastic card? In Ms. Heppner's response, she stated that the seller would ask for a license and would call the Canadian Firearms Center if they felt it was necessary. Stunned by her answer, I interrupted her to point out that, most assuredly, was not the case and that the call would be required in every instance. At this point an unidentified female handler, presumably to prevent her from digging herself into an even deeper hole, rushed in from the sidelines to end our interaction. I am left scratching my head wondering if Ms. Hoppner was counseling gun owners how to get around her own law, or as she is only the face selling the law and not the lawyer/bureaucrat that actually wrote it, is simply not fully aware of its contents.

The sole media report of the meeting released to date, submitted by an unnamed CBC employee on their website suggests Ms. Hoppner met no opposition. Perhaps that person nodded off during our exchange. Too bad, Ms. Hoppner's shocking comments on the registration she envisioned in her Bill C-391 would have been real news. Maybe they should review the Eastlink Cable TV record of the event.

Al Muir
Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association