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A Cancer of the Soul

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Drop the political pacifier Garry Breitkreuz

PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE: 2009.02.27
EDITION: National
SECTION: Editorials
ILLUSTRATION: Black & White Photo: /;
BYLINE: Garry Breitkreuz
SOURCE: National Post


Drop the political pacifier


When the national long-gun registry was introduced 14 years ago, I
believed it would help keep Canadians safe.

After many years of research, consultation and more than 600 access-to-information requests as a Member of Parliament, I now know that nothing could be further from the truth. The gun registry has not saved one life in Canada, and it has been a financial sinkhole, estimated to have cost some $2-billion. Imagine how many more police we could have on the streets if we had invested more wisely.

I believe the time has come to stop throwing good money after bad, so I introduced Bill C-301, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (registration of firearms) on Feb. 9, 2009. We need to dismantle the wasteful, futile registry and abandon the notion that this political pacifier is working. But most importantly, we need to stop placing onerous regulations on duck hunters and sport shooters who are not part of Canada's criminal element.

Bill C-301 will scrap the long-gun registry, improve efficiency and reduce costs without having any negative impact on public safety. The bill introduces a number of amendments to streamline the Firearms Act. These changes will improve efficiency and enhance Canada's public safety objectives, while still providing our police with all the information they need for effective law enforcement. Gun owners are still required to have a licence, which requires safety training and criminal background checks.

The Auditor-General has already blown the whistle on the gun registry. My bill proposes to ask for regular independent cost-benefit analyses on all aspects of the firearms program every five years. This amendment would effectively implement an evidence-based gun control regime in Canada. Firearms measures deemed cost-effective would be retained and those that were not would be subject to parliamentary review. The regular reviews could furnish hard evidence that would help Parliament create cost-effective crime control measures. At last, Canada's decision-makers could formulate policy based upon real evidence.

Ironically, the gun registry is absolutely useless in helping locate the 255,000 people who have been prohibited from owning firearms by the courts. My bill would start the long-overdue process of making public safety the priority of our country's gun-control laws. Many Canadians have come to realize that the long-gun registry is merely a bureaucratic exercise designed to lay a piece of paper beside every gun in the country. That piece of paper has no effect on the criminal and does nothing to prevent the misuse of a firearm.

This is a non-partisan issue and I hope Bill C-301 will be supported by all federal parties. There are MPs in all parties who firmly believe hunters, farmers and sport shooters have been forced to comply with an onerous and costly registration process that makes no sense. All MPs representing constituents who enjoy Canadian heritage activities are welcome to support the bill and pass it into law. I hope all parties will allow their members to vote according to their conscience, because freedom and fairness is a non-partisan pursuit. In the meantime, I would encourage all hunters, sport shooters and fiscally responsible Canadians to let your MP know that you want this bill passed.

Let's all help Parliament switch its focus to opposing the bad guys.

Garry Breitkreuz is the Conservative MP for the Saskatchewan riding of Yorkton-Melville.