NDP Long-gun registry bill betrays hunters

George Fritz Garson, Sudbury Star, Oct 26, 2010

Having had the opportunity to read through Bill C-580 and the subsequent introduction of this Bill in Parliament by MP Charlie Angus, quite frankly, this bill is both an insult and a slap in the face to Canada's recreational firearms community.

When last I spoke with Sudbury Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle, spoke, shortly before the vote on Bill C-391, he talked at length about how the NDP were going to "fix" the long gun registry and make it palatable to hunters, target shooters and collectors. If that was indeed the goal, the framers of this bill, and all those who support it have failed spectacularly.

The NDP spoke of consulting with rural and northern people, farmers and hunters, to make the long-gun registry acceptable to them in terms of removal of criminalizing and stigmatizing elements. Where was that consultation?

No hunter or target shooter that I have spoken to, or heard from, wants anything to do with C-580. Certainly no hunters or target shooters were consulted in his own riding. In fact, the evidence points to the only people having been consulted as Wendy Cukier and other like-minded individuals: her desire to ban the Mini-14, and scoped rifles is well documented.

People can see C-580 for what it really is: a thinly veiled tightening of the screws. The bill contains nothing of interest for hunters, target shooters or collectors, while giving the pro-registry side of the issue everything they want and more: since when does compromise involve taking away from one side, while giving the other whatever they want?

Make no mistake, C-580 does exactly that. In exchange for, perhaps, a fine for not registering once, hunters, target shooters and collectors are being told that distant bureaucrats will tell them what firearms they can use to hunt with, and be subjected to bans and confiscations based on whatever whim those same bureaucrats happen to have at any given time.

The Mini-14 is inappropriate for use by farmers? Really. And how many farmers or ranchers have told Gravelle they have no use for one? Or is that the opinion of the NDP caucus in downtown Toronto? For that matter, perhaps, for the purposes of the Bill, Gravelle or Charlie Angus could define what constitutes a "sniper rifle."

Such rifles seem to be singled out for outright prohibition under bill C-580. The problem is that any bolt-action hunting or target rifle could meet the definition of "sniper rifle."

If the way the NDP extends the olive branch to those who feel slighted is to hit them over the head with an even greater amount of that which offends, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to support the party.

Gravelle's employment contract is coming up for renewal soon, and it is we who will determine whether or not your contract is renewed, not party leader Jack Layton.

George Fritz Garson