Wednesday, September 20, 2006
We are now entering a new era in the firearms control debate in Canada.
The long years of hard work and dedication by the activists of the
firearms community have been key to the defeat of the former Liberal
government, and we now have a Conservative government that looks
favorably on the aims and issues of the firearms community.
Or does it?
Up to this point, it's hard not to be disappointed by the few and feeble firearms law reform attempts made so far by the Harper government.
Part of this is understandable. The Conservatives achieved only a minority government in the last election, partly due to the efforts of the other parties to paint them as "scary" extremists. However, the fact of the matter is this Conservative government, when they were in opposition and in their various incarnations as the Reform and Alliance Parties, had as policies promises to clean up the Liberal's firearms registry mess. They promised to effect true reforms to Canada's firearms laws.
The Conservative governments weak proposal to amend the Liberal's failed Firearms Act, Bill C-21, fails to do this. Apparently, the government instructed Department of Justice bureaucrats (the same bureaucrats who wrote and administered firearms legislation under the Liberals) to come up with the replacement laws. In Ottawa, this is the usual way to have a new laws written.
The bureaucrats then perverted the government's intentions. While C-21 stipulates that long arms will not be registered, the sale and transfer of each non-restricted long arm--both by licensed firearms businesses and private individuals--has to continue to be approved by the firearms bureaucracy. Under the proposed bill, the transfer of a cheap single shot .22 rifle must be authorized by a chief firearms officer (CFO). He has to "verify" that the buyer has a firearms license. That he is still eligible to hold that license (this will take an investigation). And that his license authorizes him to acquire the type of firearm he is attempting to purchase. Then the CFO must decide whether or not to grant approval to the transfer.
This process is absurd. With the approval process laid out by the bureaucrats in C-21, what is the purpose of the firearms license? Everyone who applies for and receives a firearms license, and subsequently attempts to legally purchase a firearm, must be reinvestigated again and again--every time he wishes to purchase a single-shot .22 Cooey. The Government of Canada spent over a billion of our tax dollars creating an enormous and overly bureaucratic support system to issue firearms licenses. Now it seems they put no faith in that license at all. Under this proposed law, the licence is a bad joke, and useless.
Our new government has not yet learned that bureaucrats do not write laws for the benefit of Canadians. They write laws to benefit government bureaucrats, and to maintain their bureaucracy. Perhaps to preserve as much as is possible the present firearms bureaucracy for when the Liberal Party can regain power in Canada, and resume its agenda on gun control.
It seems that Bill C-21 was carefully crafted to ensure that the present firearms control bureaucracy remains intact. As it stands, no tax dollars will be saved and little or nothing of the useless bureaucracy governing the lawful transfer of firearms will be done away with.
NFA activists, using NFA advice on how to create the best scenario for true reform in firearms laws worked their tails off to get the Conservatives elected. To this point, and in light of what is contained in C-21, the return on that investment has been zero. C-21, the Conservative fix for the Liberal's failed Firearms Act is useless, destroyed by bureaucrats working in their own self-interest. Not in the minister's interest. And not in the interest of Canadian taxpayers.
When a new minister is appointed, top bureaucrats immediately begin to influence that minister to their own ends. They take great pains to stress to the minister that he or she must work through them, the bureaucracy, rather than through stakeholders. They tell the ministers that they must operate this way, or face accusations from the opposition and media that they are in bed with the "gun lobby". The bureaucrats can serve as a filter to prevent damage to the minister's reputation, or so the top bureaucrats say.
If that works as it is designed to work, the minister, from that moment on, will only know what the bureaucrats want the minister to know, and what is published by the media.
That's how Ottawa works. It explains why Ottawa does not work too well, doesn't it?
Over the course of the next few years, the NFA--with your help--is going to change how Ottawa works. You'll find the first steps in this magazine. We are going to tell you how to be a power in Ottawa, how to trim back the excessive power currently in the hands of bureaucrats, and how to affect the decisions of our government.
True participatory democracy.