April 5, 2012

Promise Made, Promise Kept

Announcement LGR

Ottawa – Canadians want and deserve to live in safe communities. Canadians want effective measures to reduce gun crime. And, rightly, Canadians expect government programs to efficiently contribute to these goals, or to be replaced by better alternatives.

That’s why when the federal long-gun registry — initially created to reach these goals — fell short, Canadians and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government knew it had to go.

The Harper Government has long-promised to scrap the federal long-gun registry. Now, a promise made has been kept. We’ve delivered on scrapping the failed, wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, and will now focus these resources on dealing with real criminals.

Unfortunately, the long-gun registry never contributed to the enhancement of public safety. It never prevented a gun crime; never kept guns out of the hands of criminals; and never made our communities safer. It never made it safer for police officers to do their jobs. It simply didn’t work.

Conservatives warned of the failure of the registry from the beginning. The reality is that criminals do not obey the law, and do not register their guns. Moreover, the great majority of gun crimes are committed using handguns – weapons which have nothing to do with a registry of long-guns.

Furthermore, the registry imposed significant costs. It squandered taxpayer dollars. And, despite the predicted expense of just $2 million a year, the registry ended up costing more than $2 billion in total, an incredible over-run. Even with the rise in costs, it failed to deliver results.

The registry was also a burden – not on criminals – but on law-abiding farmers, duck hunters, sport shooters and rural Canadians, many of whom reside in my riding. They were required to waste time filling out forms, navigating red tape and dealing with bureaucracy – all to no avail, as it only benefited a registry that did not work.

Furthermore, the implication that they were potential criminals, just because they owned a common, legal object, is understandably resented by Canadians. Even some opposition MPs understood this, with one NDP MP commenting that “a lot of that resentment [toward the registry] is well founded.”

Recently, the Harper Government finally put an end to this nonsense. Our law to scrap the registry ensures that the information previously collected from long-gun owners — information that is not useful in preventing gun crimes — will no longer be preserved or passed on to other parties. We are protecting the privacy of Canadians.

Our Government will also continue working to help keep Canadians safe by cracking down on real criminals. We’ve already toughened sentences and bail conditions for serious gun crimes. In addition, we enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drive-by shootings, and for using a gun in the commission of another crime.

Moving forward, we’ve continued to act on this principle with the Safe Streets and Communities Act. The laws contained within it are protecting our children from sexual predators, cracking down on organized drug crime and protecting the rights of victims. These are measures that, unlike the long-gun registry, address the real and legitimate concerns of Canadians from all regions of our country.

Despite the costs and a 17-year history of failing to prevent crime, opposition MPs continued to obstruct our efforts to scrap the registry at every turn. However, the years of hard work put in by Canadians and the Harper Government paid off. It was time. The Harper Government made a promise, kept it and scrapped the wasteful and ineffective registry once and for all.