The B.C. Wildlife Federation opposes the federal government’s attempt to resurrect the failed long-gun registry, which came into effect this week disguised as a license verification regulation.
“We need to address real public safety issues and that includes adhering to strict penalties for crimes involving guns and stopping the flow of smuggled handguns across our border from the United States,” said BCWF Executive Director Jesse Zeman. “The target of public safety legislation should be criminals, not farmers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts.”
“A long-gun registry has been tried in the past, it cost taxpayers more than $1 billion and it didn’t work,” said Zeman. “Now, a decade later the federal government is trying it again. It will fail again and cost hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars more in the process.”
Created two years ago with the passage of Bill C-71, the new regulation requires retailers to collect and store private information about people who purchase long guns, such as hunting rifles. This makes every firearm retailer responsible for license holders’ private information for 20 years.
Under the new regulation, all transfers between PAL holders – sales, gifts and loans – must be reported to the RCMP registrar of firearms. This relationship data will allow the RCMP to reconstruct a national database of legal firearm owners, similar to the registry that was scrapped in 2012.
“This kind of backdoor gun registry is meant to make it look like the federal government is doing something about public safety,” said Zeman. “We are concerned that this approach accomplishes nothing.”
The regulations have not yet been made public, so it is impossible to ascertain the entire scope of the government’s plans. But we do know that buyers and sellers must report the reference number issued by the RCMP Registrar of Firearms, the seller’s license number, the buyer’s license number, the firearm’s make, model and type and, if any, its serial number. The government also includes a mysterious open-ended requirement for “information that relates to the transferee’s license.”
Under the new regulation, firearm retailers must create, manage and maintain a gun registry that includes detailed information about licensed buyers of Non-Restricted firearms. Firearm retailers must keep these records for at least 20 years.
Most firearm-related crimes in Canada are committed with guns smuggled in from the United States. Very few crimes are committed with firearms obtained from Canadian retailers or stolen from licensed owners.
Toronto Police Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw told the Commons public safety committee earlier this year that of the guns used in criminal acts last year that investigators could trace, 86 per cent were illegally smuggled into Canada from the United States. (National Post)
The new long-gun registry is meant to divert attention from the government’s failure to keep violent offenders in jail.
“Even as it targets law-abiding firearm owners with new requirements and invasive data collection, the federal government is reducing sentences for gun smuggling, armed robbery, drug trafficking, and illegal possession of firearms,” said Zeman.
Sign a petition opposing the registry here.