By BJ Bjornson
I should preface this post by noting that I was opposed to Canada�s long gun registry when it was introduced. Not that I am an opponent of gun control in general or anything, but the registry as it was proposed seemed a far too expensive program with nowhere near enough benefits to justify it. The rather remarkable cost overruns and issues with its implementation did nothing to change my mind on that point. For the first several years of its life, the long gun registry was little more than a costly boondoggle we could have done without.
That said, once the registry was up and running, the cost of maintaining it is far from onerous and, despite some other issues I�m aware of, seems to have been of considerable value in a lot of cases.
"The long-gun registry has made a significant difference in the safety of women in Canada since its inception in 1995. The rate of spousal homicide by gun has gone down 69 per cent and we attribute most of that to the impact of the gun registry,"
According to the CBC article, and quoting Conservative spokespeople at that, the registry has cost $2 billion total, but operation and maintenance of the registry is less than $22 million/year, since that figure includes the restricted weapons database that is being kept. Basically, almost all of the cost was in the setup and implementation, operating the registry is actually quite cheap. As such, getting rid of it now seems like as much of a waste as its original implementation was, with the added nuisance of the near certainty that some form of the registry will be brought back, again at considerable cost, at some point in the near future. Still, it is no surprise that the Conservatives would be looking to get rid of the registry to keep the Canadian wing of the NRA happy.
What has come as a surprise, and what shows just how pathological the Conservatives are now that they have unquestioned power, is the decision to not just scrap the registry, but to completely destroy all of the records so far collected.
Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani said it makes no sense to get rid of the data that's already been collected and that it shows that Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't value the opinion of Quebec.
"It's not a fair attitude," she said.
Liberals also weighed in on the new bill, calling it an "ideological attack on facts and evidence" and objecting to the government's intention to destroy the database.
�The data collected over the last 16 years must be preserved, so that provinces can salvage this important policing tool,� interim leader Bob Rae said in a statement.
[Public Safety Minister Vic] Toews stood firm on the decision to destroy the records in the database, leaving other jurisdictions on their own if they want their own registries.
"We've made it very clear we will not participate in the recreation of the long-gun registry and therefore the records that have been created under that long gun registry will be destroyed," he said Tuesday.
It isn�t enough for the Conservatives to simply end the registry, they have to take the added step and cost to completely obliterate the 16 years of record gathering already done and purposely hobble any attempts by provincial jurisdictions to continue a version of it, even if the program happens to enjoy widespread support there. (This is, of course, the exact opposite tack to the one conservatives took when the registry was first debuted, when they claimed it was something that should be up to the provinces rather than the federal government. Much like their southern brethren, "states' rights" only apply when they can't get the federal government to implement their desired policy option.)Pathological is really the only word I can think of that describes it.