Opinion

Editorial — Gun registry waste to end

The looming end of the federal long gun registry is a good omen for taxpayers.

It shows that the federal government is actually willing to get rid of programs that serve no purpose, and waste tax  dollars unnecessarily. While the Conservatives have long had this program in their sights, let’s hope there are more to follow.

The gun registry was, from the very beginning, a highly political move. The Liberals, under Justice Minister Allan Rock, wanted to show city voters that they would be tough on gun owners. It was all about cementing urban voting blocs, and for the most part, it worked.

The Liberals’ crumbling power base remains at  its strongest in big city downtowns, particularly Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. However, one reason that Liberal support has dramatically fallen off in other areas is the gun registry, which has been a waste of almost $2 billion, and has done almost nothing to stop crime.

Police access the database frequently, but all it does it alert them to the possibility that there may be guns in a specific home. It has been used to arrest legitimate gun owners whose only offence has been improper storage. Yet the registry does nothing to stop gun violence — most of which is committed with unregistered handguns smuggled into Canada from the U.S.

Members of the public, even those who have never handled a gun, can recognize a waste of tax dollars when they see it — particularly waste that the auditor-general has laid bare on more than one occasion.

There is definitely a place for a registry for handguns, as has been in place in Canada since the 1930s. This is a key reason why gun violence here is minimal, as compared to the U.S.

But there is no place for a registry of rifles and shotguns that are used for sport. They are almost never used in crimes. While they are used in suicides on occasion, no registry will stop a suicidal person from using a gun if they have access to it.

What is helpful is storage requirements, including trigger locks, storage of ammunition away from the firearm, and locked cabinets. All of these keep guns from being used for the wrong purposes.

Also helpful is a licence to own and buy firearms, which the government is retaining. Firearms acquisition certficates have been in place since the 1970s and have helped keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

The registry, however, is simply a waste of funds, and an insult to law-abiding citizens.

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