Police chief favours long-gun registry
Written by Jesse Harsanyi
Lethbridge Police are in favour of the long debated long-gun registry but that it could use some improvements.
A private member’s bill to abolish the current long-gun registry was defeated on Sept 22, in its third reading at the House of Commons, yet the debate continues for the billion-dollar registry.
The registry was created in 1995 as part of Bill C-68 which also made it mandatory for gun owners to acquire licenses for their guns.
This bill was induced by a cry for greater gun control policies and punishments for gun-related crime, following the Ecole Polytechique massacre in Montreal where a gunman using a legally obtained rifle shot 28 people.
Mackenzie says that the mandatory registry is not the solution to gun-related crime, but that it is an important tool in preventative control and proactive measures against unlawful use of long-guns.
Mackenzie says beneficial improvements to the firearm law would include tougher penalties for restricted weapons as well as illegal importing and exporting of weapons.
One argument against the registry includes the promotion of responsible citizenship over government control methods.
“Each and every one of us has a different idea of what a responsible citizen is,” says Mackenzie, adding that the opinions of society govern decisions.
Mackenzie addressed the issue to the community as well as Lethbridge College criminal justice students on Nov. 9, noting that measures such as registry and licensing promote safety for officers answering domestic violence calls.
When entering a hazardous situation, it is essential to know how many registered weapons are in the building as well as who they are licensed to.
It is also important in retrieving and tracking stolen registered weapons.
Current statistics say that in the county of Lethbridge, including Coaldale and Coalhurst, there are approximately 30,000 registered firearms and about 6,400 registered owners in the area. There are also approximately 2,600 restricted handguns and 276 prohibited guns the county.
Mackenzie says owning a gun is a privilege and that gun owners should register their weapons just as they would a car.
“Most registered gun owners are law-abiding citizens,” says Mackenzie.