Long-Gun Issue Just Never Seems To Go Away

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People have come to accept that they have to get a licence to buy a gun, no different than having to get a driver’s licence to drive, so be it.

It’s a topic that has been kicked around ad nauseam, but it seems our federal politicians can’t resist waking up this old dog. The long-gun registry issue (or gun-control issue depending on your political view) has again been in the news. One gets the impression that the folks who rule us from faraway Ottawa have nothing better to do than to fight old battles and wallow in contrived scandals. You would think that the economy would be the No. 1 concern of our illustrious members of parliament, but no, why deal in real issues when you can have so much fun with the nonsensical and trivial?

Most folks thought that the gun-registry issue had just faded away. Actually, the present government wasn’t enforcing it, which was just fine with unregistered long-gun owners. And the anti-gun folks were probably unaware that the registry wasn’t being enforced. That was a win-win scenario, at least politically. As one might expect, right-wing Alberta is suspected to be a hotbed of secret hoards of unregistered weapons. Be that as it may, most gun crime in Canada happens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Perhaps that is where gun-registry enforcement (confiscation?) should be concentrated and surely welcomed.

Millions of words have been written about the whole gun-registry issue, but for people who owned long guns the issue was always such a waste of time and money. The bottom line was that gun crime was not going to disappear even if all long guns were registered. But that’s not what city folks and lobby groups actually believe. To them firearms, whether they be handguns or long guns, are one and the same. When a gun crime is committed, to those folks it’s a firearm crime and the simplistic resolution is to first register and then seize all firearms and then presto, no gun crime.

Those opposed to the long-gun registry cite that there has been a handgun registry in place with rigid controls since the 1930s and handgun crime still happens.

They cite that most gun crime is carried out by stolen, smuggled or unregistered weapons. That’s a hopeless exercise in common sense as the anti-gun zealots and most city folks just don’t want to understand that – it’s much easier to support first a registry and then a total ban.

For politicians from urban ridings it’s a golden opportunity to engage in cheap politics at someone else’s expense. It’s a classic political ploy – you appear to be supporting something without actually having to do anything.

But politicians can’t leave the issue alone in their zeal to score political points. There has been a begrudging acceptance of the registry process as time has gone by. People have come to accept that they have to get a licence to buy a gun, no different than having to get a driver’s licence to drive, so be it. New firearms are registered when you buy them now, same with buying a car and the dealer usually does it for you. Over time most guns will have become registered.

The problem is always with old guns that require the owner to make the effort to have it registered. It’s not that big a deal. A few years ago I registered two old rifles. I believe I did it online to see how the process worked. I was disappointed though, I didn’t receive as much as a thank you note. The least they could have done is send me a window sticker that said registered guns are on the premises. After all we get licence plates when we register cars.

Probably the easiest and quickest way to encourage citizens to register their old guns is to put the onus on insurance companies. Have them require that all homeowner and liability policies will be cancelled unless all firearms on the premises are registered. I have no idea why insurance companies never insisted on that provision, after all when a firearm accident or death occurs, they usually end up making a payout of some sort for damages or losses.

In the end it all doesn’t matter, registering long guns won’t end crime. But the registry issue does keep our federal politicians looking busy and relieves them of the work of doing anything of real consequence.

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