Why the Gun Registry Needs To Go

An excellent op-ed by Yorkton-Melville MP, Garry Breitkreuz on the ongoing debate regarding the private member’s Bill C-391 which – if passed – would see the end of the federal long-gun registry.

Breitkreuz hits hard against the politicking of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and all of the various machinations that are going on to try and kill the bill.

The media war over the hotly contested long-gun registry is in full swing, and it isn’t pretty. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) is lobbying hard to keep our tax dollars flowing into the black hole that is the registry.

Taxpayers should be incensed at the CACP for co-opting the role of policy-maker. When law enforcement managers try to write the laws they enforce, history has taught us we risk becoming a state where police can dictate our personal freedoms.

Policy-making is solely the mandate of elected governments on behalf of the people. While police can and should be consulted on the efficacy of current policies, police chiefs should not be lobbying to tell the government which laws it should adopt. The tail is wagging the dog with such intensity, the pooch is a veritable blur.

Breitkreuz also points the finger at the CACP’s conflict of interest on this issue: something the media has studiously avoided in their coverage.

Consider that the CACP’s vocal endorsement of the registry caused the sudden departure of its own ethics expert last year. John Jones quit the CACP ethics committee after the chiefs accepted a $115,000 donation from the gun registry’s software provider. Indeed, Jones says the CACP has a track record of providing public endorsements to private sector companies that help to fund their lavish annual conference galas.

Although this bill passed 1st and 2nd readings, with the help of Liberal and NDP MPs, the 3rd reading will be a much tighter battle.

In fact it will be a battle just to get it to 3rd reading, as the federal Liberals have entered a motion to kill the bill outright to make sure it never even gets there.

As well, the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff has decided to whip his caucus’ vote, which means that the Liberal MPs who have supported the bill in the previous two readings will now have to vote against the bill or face severe repercussions within their party. This goes against parliamentary tradition, which has normally allowed a free vote on private member’s bills. However it appears that Ignatieff is willing to play to his Quebec and Toronto base and write-off the West and Eastern rural constituents.

So far the NDP leader, Jack Layton, has stayed clear of whipping his caucus’ vote, but whether he will bow to his Toronto base before this is finished is a good question. Should he do so he will likely cause some fractures within his own party.

Hopefully the NDP MPs who voted to get rid of this ridiculous legislation on the first two readings will stick to their principles and see it through to the end.

It would be a big win to see the long-gun registry go the way of the Dodo bird.

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