Killing the gun registry: it’s about the Conservatives’ deeply cynical politics, not about waste

Big gun, little … never mind. The base of the Harperista base, pretty much exactly as illustrated? Photo grabbed from the Internet. Below: Victor Toews.

If you need evidence of the malice and cynicism behind the Stephen Harper Government’s determination to scrap the national rifle and shotgun registry, you need look no further than its refusal to pass the information already collected to provinces like Quebec that are prepared to carry on the job of protecting the public.

From Day 1 of this debate until literally today, the Conservative line has been that the registry was a waste of taxpayers’ money and a burden on law-abiding gun owners and therefore ought to be shut down.

Tory toadies like the so-called Canadian Taxpayers Federation – about which it cannot be said too many times does not represent the interests of taxpayers, this issue being yet another glaring example – have dutifully parroted this line.

But by their actions you shall know them, and by their actions we can see that their claim is baloney of a particularly unhealthy variety.

Yes, the registry did cost far too much when it was set up by the Liberals, although, those costs having been paid, it was relatively inexpensive to operate. So, given all that water under the proverbial bridge, why not give the data collected at such great expense to the police agencies and provincial governments that want it?

Well, as is so often the case with the Harper government, the positions it takes have little to do with the facts. In this case, Manitoba’s Victor Toews – the federal minister with the Orwellian title of Minister of Public Safety, which apparently in reality means Minister of Public Endangerment – has made it clear there’s no way on God’s green earth he’ll provide this information to the provinces and police departments that want it. It’s all to be destroyed.

At least in this case the Conservatives aren’t so much lying about the facts as merely ignoring them. Mr. Toews (pronounced Taves) passed right over justifying this crazy decision, flatly stating “we won’t have those records loose and capable of creating a new long-gun registry should they ever have the opportunity to do that.”

Hell no! A life might be saved, depriving the Tories of an opportunity to stir up public panic about crime!

In fact, this crusade by the Tories has never been about wasted tax dollars – that’s a laugh and a half from a government willing to piss our tax dollars away on unneeded F-35 stealth fighters that will have to patrol our northern skies in stately silence without bazillions more in radio repairs as their cost soars to $35 billion and beyond.

And this campaign has never been about the facts – another laugh from a government that wants to spend $10 billion or more building super prisons to fight a declining crime rate by jailing recreational drug users, and to send young offenders to prison for long stretches in the face of evidence that this will make our streets less safe.

No, to this government the long-gun registry was a wedge issue and nothing more than a wedge issue.

A “wedge issue” is political shorthand for a social or economic issue that divides the core supporters of a particular political party. If you’re a Conservative, say, and you can use a wedge issue to push people who would normally vote for the NDP to vote for you, or not to vote at all, you’ve driven a wedge into your opponents’ support.

The Conservatives long ago concluded that registration of rifles and shotguns was a wedge that could break the traditional voting habits of rural NDP supporters, especially in Northern Ontario where the registry was seen as a nuisance by many.

With the NDP now forming the official Opposition, the urge to stick with such dangerous and unethical tactics is likely to be impossible for the Harperistas to control – hence their determination to string this issue out.

That said, it’s hard to understand the hysteria with which the registry was opposed in some circles, since, after all, it was only a registry. We seldom hear conspiracy theories from car owners that being required to license and register their automobiles means a government conspiracy is afoot to seize their wheels. It’s almost enough to tempt one to indulge in certain common pop psychology theories about what really motives the screeching anger and drooping logic of the gun-fetishist set.

Be that as it may, there’s a real danger here because, egged on by the hydrophobic rage of the gun nuts that apparently comprise a significant segment of the Harper Conservative base, it is quite possible they will try to keep the issue alive by proposing to make it easier to own weapons that only exist to kill humans – handguns, fully automatic assault rifles and who knows what else. Bazookas?

Leastways, if this is not true – as some of their supporters are certain to instantly allege – let’s hear an unequivocal statement from the Harperites to that effect right now!

Regardless, the Harper Government’s refusal to retain and pass on the data already collected to urban police forces – a decision that will certainly result in the deaths of innocent citizens and police officers – is indefensible and immoral. In other words, pretty much what we’d expect from this deeply cynical government.

We owe it to our fellow citizens to track every one of these needless future deaths – and to assign the blame exactly where it belongs.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

8 Comments on "Killing the gun registry: it’s about the Conservatives’ deeply cynical politics, not about waste"

  1. daveberta says:

    That is an amazing photo.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Of a Lahti L-39, wonderful piece of kit that.

  3. Paul Turnbull says:

    I'm pretty sure that's a picture of David in his younger days. :)

  4. Filostrato says:

    Is it legal for the Con government to take the information collected in the gun registry, which all of us paid for and is therefore the property of all Canadians, and destroy it? That sounds like theft and destruction of public property to me.

    Most Canadians want the registry preserved. It's now ticking along quite nicely and is consulted some 17,000 times a day by police forces across the country.

    Firearms and gun registry numbers – CBC

    The Canadian Wheat Board is suing this regime for doing an end run around the Board's mandate. Can the huge majority of Canadians who didn't vote for the Cons and support the registry sue for possession of our information and prosecute them if they wantonly destroy it?

    It seems that they want the Con Doctrine (TM) to persist even beyond that glorious day when they will be tossed out on their considerable (ahem!) fundaments. Who died and made them God?

  5. fubar says:

    David
    For all your hyperbole, your argument for the long gun registry is weak. It did not prevent crime, and did cost a tonne of money. And perhaps it does not cost as much now to operate, but it does cost.
    But perhaps your most egregious sin here is to tar a segment of the population with wild, overblown smears. Gun nuts, bazookas, conspiracies, etc., etc. – Really? You've lost any credibility when you descend to ad hominen attacks.
    You want to know why firearms owners wanted the registry gone? Because any slip up in paperwork immediately resulted in criminal sanctions, not fines like similar automobile infractions. As well the legislation was poorly written so as to create confusion amongst both the enforcement arm (police) and the public. And the police love to go after low hanging fruit – why go after real crooks when you know you can probably bust Joe Canadian since you have all the info on him. And getting your firearm back if confiscated can take years and cost a bucket load of lawyer fees.
    So yes, we are happy it is going. And it does not make sense to keep the current registry information going forward as it will be hopelessly corrupted.
    It may have been a wedge issue, but it sure does have a great deal of basis in logic behind it. And even before the current government it was favoured by a majority of MP's (until whipped).
    My impression is that the pro LGR faction were using this an anti-gun front if you will. So lets have an honest debate and find out how popular your stance is? Are you really against all firearms? Or do you want an honest debate on the issues?

  6. Kay Osatenko - kayos says:

    I have also compared the long gun registry to the licensing of drivers. I have tried to find out the cost to taxpayers of maintaining driver licensing, but have come up with a dead end. Interesting that the police use the licensing to catch criminals. Can you help find out the cost?

    Please contact kayos@shaw.ca

  7. Carlos says:

    Well I do not want to get into an argument about gun registry or car registry but the same people that justify building prisons and tighten the law against criminals, are having issues to pay for something that keeps criminals from getting their hands on weapons. The law was not perfect and I do agree we need something better but considering a society without weapons regulations is ludicrous to say the least. Also criticizing the police is an easy game, just try to go live in a society where they do not matter! People that love guns can have them but guess what, they have to register them. If you choose not to, then your sentence should double when you are caught. I for one want to live in a society without weapons. If you love them, move to the US where you can buy them at street corners.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Fubar!

    David, did you compose this or did you let Wendy Culkier of the Coalition for Gun Control ghost write this rant for you? Contrary to what the Coalition would like the public to believe, the real cost of the registry is still hundreds of millions of dollars per year (add up the cost of Miramichi processing facility including staffing, the regional bureaucracy and the CGI systems maintenance contract). All for naught.

    All the ill-conceived 'arguments' you present don't outweigh the simple fact that criminals don't register their guns. Just ask the families of the RCMP officers murdered in Mayerthorpe by an individual who was under a firearms ban but still managed to illegally posess a gun that is classed as a prohibited weapon in Canada and use it to kill four police officers.

    And by the way, as a law-abiding firearms owner I possess several handguns that I use for target shooting–a legitimate sporting activity.

    Your utter ignorance toward this issue makes this blog entry amusingly absurd.

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