Why keep the long-gun registry?

Staff ~ The Amherst Citizen
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At the time of this writing, MPs were still debating the thorny issue of the long-gun registry, though it appears that it is going to be saved by a narrow margin.

In rural parts of the country like where we live, the long-gun registry raises a lot of people’s hackles. Some seem to view it as the government intruding on their rights, that forcing them to register their weapon is somehow labelling them as potential criminals. But has it really been that bad? Are there any law-abiding hunters and farmers that have been thrown in jail over this thing?

Perhaps the more relevant question to ask is whether or not the registry has been an effective law enforcement tool. Police chiefs across the country say it has. Women’s shelters across the country say that the registry helps reduce violence against women, particularly in rural Canada, where 67 per cent of spousal homicides have been committed by rifles or shotguns. A report released this year by the RCMP this year described the registry as effective, efficient, cost-efficient and life-saving.

The support from the police is not surprising, considering 14 of the 16 police officer shooting deaths in Canada between 1998 and 2009 were killed by a long gun.

One of the most common anti-registry arguments we hear is that “criminals don’t register their weapons.” There is some truth in that statement, but criminals don’t act like criminals all the time, or else they would be caught pretty easily. Those who choose to not register their long guns can now have them more easily taken away by police for the simple reason that they are not registered.

Most of the anger at the registry seems to stem from the “billion dollar boondoggle” that it turned into upon its setup, and rightfully so. There was a lot of wasteful spending, but that money is gone. Ironically, some of these critics are the same people who chose to spend a billion dollars on three days of summits this summer. The truth is, the costs of running the long-gun registry are relatively low, at about $4 million per year – a small price to pay if lives can be saved.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Canada

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