CBC News · Posted: Dec 04, 2002 11:02 AM ET | Last Updated: December 4, 2002
Canada’s auditor general has blasted the federal government after finding that the cost of Ottawa’s gun registry program has ballooned to about $1 billion.
I was living in the Gambia West Africa, where I was serving on a Bahai Social-economic project. It was Thursday, December 5, 2002. I received a Skype call from my son Nick who was studying political science at the Mcgill University in Montreal. He said “heh dad I called to tell you that your legacy the Canadian government Long Gun Firearm Registration was soon to be dead. He laughed as he shared the news of the recently released Canadian Auditor-General Report heavily criticizing the cost-effectiveness of the program.
My first thought was, why you little ….I was proud to be part of the team that worked on the implementation of Firearm Registration legislation. My second thought was, you know son my legacy is not dead for as long as you and your sister are still living. You both are my legacy.
In 1989, Marc Lépine murdered 14 female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Marc was the son of a wife-beating man who after his father abandoned his mother, knew whom to blame for his personal problems: liberated women. Mark Lapine entered the university, and ordered the males to leave the room, and, after they meekly complied, he shot the remaining women to death. Despite his stopping to change magazines during the carnage nobody attempted to intervene. The police arrived long after Mark had committed suicide” – SSRN Journal research article The Canadian Long-Gun Registry: A Preliminary EvaluationThe Canadian Long-Gun Registry: A Preliminary Evaluation.
“The Canadian firearms law is the 1995 Firearms Act (Bill C-68), which mandates universal firearm registration and owner licensing. The Liberal Party of Canada brought in the 1995 Federal Firearms Act after a horrendous multiple-victim shooting in 1989. Prior to this legislation, the provinces had assumed responsibility for long guns (rifles and shotguns) through provincial hunting regulations, while the Federal Government controlled handguns relying upon its constitutional role of protecting “peace, order and good government ”This division had been upended in 1977 by the Federal Government’s introduction of the Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) which required prospective gun purchasers to pass a criminal record check before purchasing a firearm.
The key to the ongoing tracking of the ownership and the location racking of guns in the Long Gun Legislation was the maintaining of the database. Originally, the program required the registration of all non-restricted firearms but this requirement was dropped on April 6, 2012, by the coming into force of Bill C-19 also mandated the destruction of the non-restricted records of the registry as soon as feasible. Thus providing a fatal blow that ended the 1995 Firearms Act (Bill C-68). An injunction by the province of Quebec Superior Court where the 18 women who were killed by Marc Lapine provided a temporary stay of the Long Gun Registration Legislation. The decision was later upheld on March 27, 2015, by the Supreme Court of Canada. “Canadian Firearms Registry – Wikipedia.
Until this day I am proud of my work in the program, I believe that the government had the right intention in passing the legislation following the murder of 18 women engineering students. My own opinion was those partisan politics more often than not, doom any meaningful national legislation.
“The country was sharply divided over the issue, urban vs. rural; the West vs. the East; men vs. women. The opposition parties, backed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the media, bitterly resisted any change in the federal gun laws. Gun owners celebrated their freedom, but opponents predicted disaster”. The Canadian Long-Gun Registry: A Preliminary Evaluation Gary Mauser
As part of my work as a telecommunication analyst on the project, I travelled to all 10 provinces meeting all types of stakeholders. I witnessed large rooms with thousands of long guns and machine guns that had been turned into law enforcement as many did not want the hassle of registering these guns. I spoke to police officers and provincial firearms officers who were directly involved in mass shootings. They for the most part believed in the merits of the legislation.
It was after my visit to a gun club outside of Halifax Nova Scotia on the invitation of members of the club. I became I believer in the Gun Registry legislation. I visited the club along with 3 female colleagues who worked directly in the federal justice and were responsible for the implementation of the legislation. We were given the chance to fire all types of legal handguns, including hunting rifles, along with military assault rifles.
All the firearms were spread out over about a hundred feet along with the firing range. We first shot 22 calibre hunting rifles and I had a positive feeling about the use of hunting tools. Next up were the military-style assault rifles with ammunition magazines capable of holding 5 bullets. I felt the power against my shoulder as I emptied the magazine and fired the semi-automatic gun into a target about 50 meters away. The instructor told us those bullets if struct a human shoulder would blow their arms off, not like in the movies where they would show as ‘flesh wounds’ Then thoughts rushed into my head and I started to shake that these were not designed for hunting animals, but were designed kill people.
We moved off the assault rifles and on to handguns that included 9-millimetre Gloc police-issued handguns and the Dirty Harry gun 357 Magnum Force. We were instructed to fire into a paper target about 10 meters away. My women colleagues had no trouble hitting the .5 meter target. I on the other hand was going for the ‘good wound’ holding the gun towards the bottom of the target where I imagined we are the person’s feet. The instructor yelled pull it up, in my head was crying out, but these were designed to kill people.
Today as I watched my internet news feed I saw a CNN report on the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The title of the report was titled “In America, a mass shooting at an elementary school. In Canada, tighter gun control.
I agreed with our prime minister on two things, first, the vast majority of gun owners used their guns safely and, “at the end of the day the math is quite simple, the fewer the guns the safer everyone will be”.
Today I called up my son on WhatsApp in Mexico where he is living with his partner and their legacy son Caleb. I said I had hope that sensible non-partisan solutions can be found in North America to keep our true legacy safe, so they can grow and create their own legacy.