Long gun registry killed

Conservatives introduce bill to end it

Wanstall’s owner Craig Jones holds a Springfield armory M1A semi-automatic .308

Wanstall’s owner Craig Jones holds a Springfield armory M1A semi-automatic .308

Disbanding the long gun registry will make Craig Jones’ day.

It made no sense to the owner of Wanstall’s Hunting and Shooting, on Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge, to waste so much money on creating one to begin with.

“It made hunters and sports shooters feel persecuted, for no return. Farmers, too.”

The federal government announced this past week that it will dismantle the long gun registry.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews introduced the legislation Tuesday, but firearms owners will still have to meet requirements.

All gun purchasers still must get a possession and acquisition licence, that requires passing a gun safety course, along with police background checks, in all, about a three-month process.

“If you don’t have your [purchase acquisition] licence, you don’t have the ability to own the firearms,” Jones said.

As well, owners of restricted weapons, such as hand guns and certain rifles with shorter barrels, still have to register their weapons.

Jones doesn’t expect much to change at his busy shop when the registry is finally eliminated, although it could streamline purchases because customers will no longer have to register their weapons before leaving the store.

Jones said the long gun registry had no purpose.

He says such data doesn’t tell police if weapons were located in a particular residence.

“There’s the uselessness of it.”

Any police officer responding to a domestic incident had to just assume firearms could be involved.

“I can’t imagine that an RCMP [officer] would roll up to a domestic dispute and walk in nonchalantly just because there was no firearm registered.”

The registry wasn’t designed to do anything other than placate a segment of the population that didn’t understand firearms, he added.

Former NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau favoured keeping the registry, unless it’s proven ineffective in fighting crime.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police wanted to keep the registry, she pointed out.

“I worry that the Conservatives are playing to their base rather than putting public safety at the top.”

However, Conservative MP Randy Kamp said front-line police say that the registry shouldn’t be relied upon to indicate if weapons are in a house. The registry needlessly targets hunters, farmers and sports shooters, he added.

“From what I’ve seen, it seems pretty ineffective and we could put our money elsewhere in reducing crime.”

He hasn’t had much feedback at his constituency office, but voters who have commented are “glad we’re keeping a commitment we’ve been making every campaign.”

The division between what’s considered a restricted weapon and non-restricted weapon also causes confusion among gun owners and the public.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Jones said about why some rifles are restricted and some are not.

He showed two military rifles – the Lee Enfield .303 and the Russian-made SKS, manufactured in the 1950s for the Soviet army, both specifically made for the military and both of which are non-restricted – while some civilian rifles are restricted.

“Canadians have been using them [303s] to kill moose for years,” Jones said.

“Near as I can tell, what determines a restricted weapon is based on its appearance – or a handgun.”

All hand guns are restricted.

However, the RCMP website says restricted weapons are usually weapons with shorter barrels or handguns, while prohibited weapons are fully automatic, such as machine guns.

One of the more deadly weapons listed on the Wanstall website is available for $5,299. It’s the 50-calibre Steyr H.S. 50BMG and has a range of 1.5 kilometres. All that’s required to buy that is a possession acquisition licence.

Most ranges, though, don’t allow that rifle because it’s too powerful.

“It’s popular enough that we will bring it in,” Jones said.

Such weapons may have a military look about them, such as the CZ 858, which comes with four magazines and a bayonette, but have been civilianized and would be like comparing a kit sports car with the real thing, Jones pointed out.

The legislation also calls for the destruction of records relating to long guns although some provinces seeking to get that data.

“The introduction of this legislation is consistent with the government’s efforts to ensure our firearms laws target real criminals and protect the safety of the public,” Toews said.

“Our government will continue to uphold our commitment to effective gun control measures that help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and off our streets.”

The long gun registry and its data could be destroyed before Christmas.

“It’s going to be a good day,” Jones said.