Loaded Inaction

This week, all eyes were on the parliamentary vote to continue or abolish the long-gun registry. I realize that to those of you south of the border or abroad, this sounds like an issue from a Hollywood western, but it is something that affects all Canadians, both rural and urban. The long-gun registry requires that rifle and shotgun owners register their weapons. Please bear in mind that rifles and shotguns are the most common kind of firearms used in Canada.

People living in rural areas, often referred to as the duck hunters and farmers in this debate, feel that this registry treated them as though they were criminals. Police bodies want to maintain the long-gun registry for obvious reasons. Fourteen police officers were killed with long guns last year, and thus, the gun registry is an essential work tool (1). Women's groups are also upset. In 2008, long guns were used in 72% of firearm-related spousal homicides (2).

Both sides in this debate have been accused of not telling the whole story or inflating their statistics to serve their own purposes.

For most people, it's not hard to figure out what side I'm on. Jack Layton is the leader of the New Democratic Party, a labour party that professes to support women's rights. This is also the party that I have supported since I was eligible to vote.

I was sickened to see Jack Layton not compel his caucus to vote in favour of maintaining the gun registry on the basic principle that gun control saves police officer's and women's lives. On the one side, we have people afraid to be depicted as criminals, while on the other side, they are concerned with safety and survival.Why is the principle in this case so hard to see?

The vast majority of farmers and hunters practise gun safety and do not threaten their wives and children with weapons. But everyone out there knows a gun owner who is a mean drunk, who makes threats, is physically abusive or has mental health issues.

It all goes back to what your middle school teacher said, "It's those who don't follow the rules who ruin it for everyone else." We pay higher taxes because some people don't pay their share. We pay higher prices for consumer items because of shoplifters. Although we may all be law-abiding citizens, we are continually compelled to pay for someone else's wrongdoing one way or another. That's life!

Your thoughts readers?

In the end,  Jack persuaded 6 MPs to change their vote, and the bill to abolish the long-gun registry was narrowly defeated. While Jack may have endeared himself to a few duck hunters and farmers, I can't accept the fact that he didn't stand up for principle when he had the chance. Next election, I will be voting for someone who champions women's rights through action, not words.

Related links:
Long-Gun Registry: What's Going On?
In a Hypothetical Society
Glass Ceiling: Smashed or Cracked?
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
Doc Review: Finding Dawn by Christine Welsh

[1] Nick Aveling, "Police Chiefs Endorse Register Over Tories' Plan" National Post, August 24, 2010.

[2] Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2006. Available at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/familyviolence/pdfs/fv-85-224-XIE2006000_e.pdf


Anonymous | September 27, 2010 at 8:51 AM

Long gun owners (and Conservatives) need to get over themselves. Human vanity never ceases to amaze.

Heather | September 27, 2010 at 8:34 PM

Couldn't agree more, although I have heard that there is a lot of red tape involved in obtaining a gun. Maybe the entire system has to be re-examined, but abolished no!

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