I’ve addressed many issues in the House in my 18 years as M.P. for Yorkton-Melville. Over that time, I worked hard to expose the huge boondoggle known as the long-gun registry. So I was pleased to stand and speak in support of Bill C-19, the Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act. Once passed, the legislation will remove the unnecessary burden on Canadians to register their non-restricted long-guns and save taxpayers a lot more money in the process.
In January 1994, before the Liberal government of the day had put the long gun registry in place, I was invited to a meeting by a number of concerned gun owners in Preeceville. It was -39° outside, and the town hall was packed.
They asked me what I thought about the long gun registry that the Liberals were portraying as gun control. I hadn’t thought much about it, and said something like, “Who would not be in favour of gun control?”
They challenged me to look below the surface at what the proposed long gun registry would and would not do; what its purpose actually was and who it would actually help. In short, they challenged me to look at the facts.
It took a bit of time for me to uncover them, but it eventually became clear that a long-gun registry would be totally ineffective. It could not accomplish what it was purported to do. I had to completely reverse my position. Since then, I’ve worked towards scrapping it once and for all. I’ve talked to thousands of people. I’ve lost track of how many meetings I’ve attended on this issue – from Vancouver Island to St. John's, Newfoundland.
Over the years, many concerned citizens across Canada – police officers, hunters, farmers and sport shooters alike – have shared with me their stories and opinion that the registry should be scrapped. They’ve done so honestly and forthrightly. It has been a long haul; but in the end, through working for positive change, we’ve made a difference. Bill C-19 is proof of that.
Firearms owners will still require a valid licence before buying or owning firearms. To obtain a license, you will still need to undergo background checks, pass a firearms safety training course and comply with firearms safe storage and transportation requirements.
But after the bill becomes law, long-gun owners will no longer be required to register their hunting rifles and shotguns. Thousands of respectable people across Canada who use them as a tool for living and for leisure, will no longer have reason to feel like criminals.
A very big “thank you,” to my fellow M.P.s, the citizens of Yorkton-Melville and the millions of people across Canada who have supported me in this cause.