(Originally published in the Merritt News)
© By Othmar Vohringer
When the bill to end the long-gun registry passed in the House of Commons there was a big cheer in the ranks of the Conservative party and from law-abiding firearm owners around the nation. Finally, the two billion dollar feel-good-legislation that did absolutely nothing to prevent firearm related crimes but, as Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said, “turned a whole way of life (hunting and sport shooting) into some kind of criminal conduct.”
I sat tensely on the edge of my chair as the news was read out on TV. The bill passed by a margin of 150 to 130 and now has to go to the Senate for final approval, where a Conservative majority will make sure of that. As expected, the Liberal MPs voted against the legislation and so did all but two MPs of the NDP. I’ve no doubt that these two brave NDPers will get a stern talking to from their party whips. As much as I wanted to celebrate the outcome of that positive result I couldn’t. The long-gun-registry may be dead and soon to be buried by the senate, but gun control will not be gone. In fact, there are a few loud and persistent voices that now demand that firearm licensing should be made much tougher to obtain. The gun registry is dead but gun control may get worse. At least that is if Dan Albas, the conservative MP of Okanagan-Coquihalla, the Liberals and the NDP have a say in the matter. Of course the new measures of gun control being put forward will do as little to keep guns out of criminals hand’s as the firearm registry did.
The idea put forward is simply a means to make the paranoid fringe group in our society feel better about themselves. Dan Albas writes in his column “MP Report” in the Merritt News from February 23, 2012, how he envisions a “more comprehensive” firearm licensing system with increased firearm education and tougher licensing obligations. This makes me think that Dan Albas and others echoing his vision never owned a firearm or tried to own one. If they had they would know how comprehensive the current firearm training and safety courses are.
The firearm education courses are only one part of becoming a gun owner. The last step to own a firearm is to apply for a PAL (Possession and Acquisition Licence). There are numerous hoops to jump through and background checks akin to that for a convicted criminal. The questionnaire that is part of the licensing process contains many questions about a person’s private life, relationships, mental health condition, financial affairs and many other things that any person would regard as severe intrusion of privacy. In addition you have to provide all the names and addresses of former spouses, if you have any. Should a former spouse have reservations for whatever reason then you will not get a licence.
So not much has changed. Firearms and firearm owners are still unjustifiably serve as scapegoat for failed justice and political agendas. Perhaps politicians should start to tackle the real issue, rather than vilifying firearms owners. Until courts start to hand out harsh punishments without but and if to violent criminals nothing will change.