A renewed call for a firearms registry

Responsible gun ownership is the key to the future

“Deception is an arrangement of light and dark… chiaroscuro… The people must be made to see white where there is black when this is necessary to the progress of the revolution…”

German communist leader Willi Munzenberg made this remark on a parody of artistic style to Lenin in 1917 as they were heading to Moscow by rail to begin the Russian revolution. The basic concept is still employed worldwide by many who seek to invoke their will on the masses.

Very few issues have polarized so many Americans and Canadians as much as the great firearms debates. It has pitted east against west, rural against urban, rich against poor and public against police. It has framed liberal and conservative politics ruled by people only too happy to take many down murky roads of understanding where white and black are not easily identified. The US based National Rifle Association has received, and spits out, many billions of dollars to all levels of politicians to ensure the profitability of the American firearms industry.

The recent senseless murders of 17 children in Florida has brought a brilliant spotlight on the issue of firearms for our American cousins. Although we Canadians, in our smugness, feel it is just an American issue, we quickly forget the numerous mass shootings we have experienced ourselves. But not nearly as intense as the American experience.

Canada living next door to the United States has been described as resembling the mouse sleeping next to the elephant. If the elephant even moves ever so slightly it can mean great consequences for the mouse.

No one factor demonstrates the differences between Canadians and Americans than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That right to bear arms has been the cause of the creation of the largest under regulated firearms industry in the world. One that will not be easily controlled. Toward this end vast amounts of money are expended in lobbying efforts to convince the American people they can trust the American way of life, pledge allegiance to the flag, but never trust their government.

I am not here to pass judgement on the American way of life but rather hope we learn from the American experience, as we have done in the past, to build a better system.

I would like our government to look seriously at creating a sustainable firearms registry. The firearms registry should never work as a tool for police nor as a method to reduce crime and violence. Neither should it be a tool of taxation, an attempt to disarm the citizenry or a government power grab to create a sinister dark oligarchy. If people take off the various rosy and dark glasses provided by political hacks and self-interest groups, the reality should become a little more clear.

To register a firearm is nothing more than showing responsible ownership. Gun owners who say they are law abiding responsible citizens yet want to keep their weapons secret by not registering them are trying to suck and blow at the same time. A responsible gun owner should wish to demonstrate this responsibility, not for the sake of police or politicians but for family, neighbours and community.

If I live next door to a person who enjoys his firearms collection yet rails against laws designed to make him responsible for possessing them, what does that tell me about the security of my household? A neighbour who can convince me that he is abiding by proper rules of safety and laws regarding firearm ownership has my confidence and support.

Dave Brown, a long time Canadian firearms collector, trainer and writer on the subject, states that he enjoys firearms and collecting so much he has no problem taking the extra effort to register them and abide by all the laws that go along with that.

Most of us similarly enjoy cars and have no problem with far more extensive rules – testing, regulations, insuring, and licensing which costs much more than any firearms registry would dare to suggest. Going through these processes indicates responsible ownership and demonstrates this to our neigbours and communities.

We are all aware of individuals who abuse car ownership. They cut corners, fail to get insurance and register change of ownership, let their vehicles become unsafe and drinking and driving. Every responsible citizen would look upon most of this as being irresponsible.

Canadian firearm lobby groups and some politicians demand no registration for rifles and shotguns. In Canada there is no serious issue from owners being registered to acquire and possess a firearm, nor being screened by police to purchase them – but want privacy when it comes to the model, serial numbers, and number of guns they own. It defeats my understanding of logic.

The now defunct firearms registry went through a considerable crucible of fire. Originally a simple process, it very quickly became a nightmare for registrants and a boondoggle for statisticians wanting information and politicians looking for advantage. Lost in all the ensuing hoopla was the idea of demonstrating responsible gun ownership and encouraging acceptance by gun owners by keeping to the basics. Name, make, calibre, serial number and address. Nothing more.

We should at least be able to salvage the values of responsible gun ownership, identify chiaroscuro rhetoric employed by lobby groups for what it is and look beyond political opportunists. We have a much recognized safer country than most around the world. It is based upon a citizenry that appreciates this safe environment and are willing to make sacrifices for the common good. Free-wheeling gun ownership should be one small sacrifice.

I went in to a Costco store in Washington state once and a huge banner graced the wall above the firearms counter which displayed a range and quantity of weaponry most third world countries would be happy to have for creating or dissuading a major revolution. The banner said “If you are Canadian… don’t even ask!” I was proud to see that banner.

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