Thursday, October 28, 1999
Honest folks have been buying and selling guns to each other in Canada for hundreds of years without contributing one iota to the violent crime problem. Begging the question: Why is the Liberal government making it more and more difficult for honest folks to buy and sell firearms to each other while real criminals are laughing all the way to the bank?
Using the Access to Information Act, I found out what Justice Minister Anne McLellan's own firearms experts told her on June 1st about her government's gun registration scheme. "The current transfer and registration process is permitting an unchecked growth in the most unwanted elements of the firearms trade, specifically the black market. Dysfunction in the process is epidemic, as evidenced by the extremely low level of daily transfers being recorded. Non-compliance by the majority of firearm owners is inevitable as a result of this dysfunction, as is the impending unenforceability of the licencing provisions. The control-based CFRS service delivery model has been shown incapable of addressing the volume of firearms to be registered in Canada. Every firearm illegally transferred compromises the safety of all Canadians and encourages the rampant increase in the black market. We believe that the fabric forming the 'culture of safety' is unraveling. " The User Group on Firearms went on to provide 13 pages of recommendations to the Minister advising her how to fix the problems they identified.
How did it all go so wrong for the Liberals who used closure at every stage of debate to ram the gun registration legislation through Parliament in 1995? The fact is, the Liberals ignored every piece of advice offered by responsible firearm owners, aboriginal leaders, provincial governments and opposition MPs. The Liberals also ignored good old common sense.
When one farmer agrees to sell his gopher gun to a neighbour (as they have been doing for the last thirty or forty years), they don't see that as a criminal act. But the Liberals made this innocent exchange between two honest people a crime. Unless, of course, each of the farmers jump through the costly, time-consuming, bureaucratic hoops created by the "dysfunctional" licencing and registration system the government has imposed on everyone but real criminals.
Now, before two honest people can sell a rifle or a shotgun to one another, they have to call the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, New Brunswick and pay them $25 (even though the gun may not be worth $25). Then they have wait for the bureaucracy to approve the transfer of a legally owned firearm to the farmer (who must also have a valid acquisition licence issued by the same bureaucratic system). Sometimes this transfer takes a few minutes, often it takes days. Is it any wonder that the User Group on Firearms is telling the Minister of Justice that this bureaucratic monstrosity isn't working? I can understand the Minister ignoring the free advice I've given her and her predecessor over the years. But what is truly unbelievable is that the Minister of Justice is ignoring her own handpicked firearms experts.
The Minister's User Group on Firearms recommended: (1) a method of accelerating legal firearms transfers, (2) a deferment of the $25 transfer fee, and (3) an extension of the licencing and registration deadlines. Unfortunately, this is like using band-aids when the patient requires major surgery.
The real problem was created four years ago when the Liberals passed an illogical, unenforceable law that is proving impossible to implement - just as we predicted. In the face of such a ridiculous law, honest people are continuing to do business with each other the way they always have. This has created a nightmare for police who are obligated to enforce this ill-conceived legislation even though they don't believe in it. Another obvious consequence is that it has also undermined respect for the law. What will the public's reaction be when the police start arresting honest people for these made-in-Ottawa crimes while biker gangs and home invaders continue to terrorize our streets?
According to documents obtained through Access to Information, as of March 31, 1999, $216 million had been wasted to implement the Liberal's ill-fated gun registration scheme - two and a half times the original estimate of $85 million. A Library of Parliament research paper reveals that the registry now employs as many as 800 bureaucrats. Sadly, these wasted millions were not used to hire more police and help finance real crime fighting initiatives in our communities. The Liberals are using Cabinet secrecy to hide the true cost of the gun registry, but have admitted that it will cost $50 to 60 million a year to operate. They also say that responsible firearm owners are going to pay the full cost of implementing and operating this bureaucratic boondoggle. But in the first six months of operation, only $2.9 million in user fees was collected.
The real solution is for the Liberals to admit they were wrong and turn the licencing of firearm owners and registration of firearms over to the provinces where, according to our Constitution, these responsibilities rightfully belong. In January, six provinces and two territories are taking their constitutional challenge of the registry to the Supreme Court of Canada. Maybe the court will give the government an easy exit from their firearms fiasco.
"The only power any government has is to crack down on crime and criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, then one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens. What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of law that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of lawbreakers - and then you can cash in on their guilt." --Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged--
There are not enough jails, not enough policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people." --Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, May 1, 1965
"When law and morality contradict each other the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his or her sense of morality or losing his or her respect for the law" --Frederick Bastiat
"Non-cooperation with injustice is a sacred duty." --Mahatma Gandhi