Friday, November 20, 2009

The Real Story Behind Guns and Reform Conservatives

Despite the fact that the Reformers will tell you that their entire campaign against the gun registry is the cost to maintain and the needs of rural communities, it is only a very small part of the Reform agenda when it comes to gun ownership.

I have checked out many of the pro-gun sites and invariably it comes back to one thing. The right to arm yourself for self defense. Every single time. They will cite instances where if crime victims had guns they wouldn't have been victims. This is working so well in the U.S.

The above video was made by a group called the 'Daily Split', another Conservative think tank, PR firm, or whatever they are calling themselves these days. One of the contributors to the site is Joseph Ben-Ami. According to Wikipedia, "Ben-Ami has close ties to the current pro-Israel leadership of Conservative Party of Canada. He is a former policy aid to both Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper. He had also served as a "top operative" in the Canadian Alliance leadership campaign of Stockwell Day."

Everything on their website reflects the Reform Party views, so they have no integrity. And they obviously have no idea who Canadians are.

A recent poll shows that:

Canadians have mixed views on what to do about the long-gun registry, with slightly more preferring to abolish the program than keep it, but nearly a third having no opinion on the subject, a new EKOS poll suggests.

The EKOS poll suggests supporters of the gun registry are more likely to be university-educated, Liberal or BQ supporters, or living in Quebec. Respondents opposed to the registry include Conservatives, people living in the Prairies, and Canadians aged 65 and over.

The survey also asked about attitudes toward gun ownership in general. Fifty-four per cent of people surveyed agreed with the statement that “with the exception of law enforcement, gun ownership should be outlawed completely."

Forty-six per cent of those polled agreed with the statement that “all Canadian citizens should have a legal right to bear arms.”

Men, residents of Alberta, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada and Conservative Party supporters were more likely to oppose outlawing gun ownership, while women, Quebecers, Liberals and Bloc Québécois supporters were more likely to support banning it.

A clear majority of respondents — 64 per cent — believed there should be a strict ban on guns in urban areas, an opinion found across all regions and demographic groups, the poll found. About 27 per cent of those polled disagreed with such a ban, and about nine per cent were undecided or did not have a response.

There was a great letter to the editor, published in the Owens Sound Sun Times recently:

Long-gun registry a must

I got a speeding ticket the other day. It's a big one. Real stupid move on my part, and I should know better. I offer no excuses or justification. I've also been reflecting on it; my state of mind at the time, and what I've learned about myself and how I can make changes.

As I reflected on the incident, I noted something.

As the officer left his cruiser and walked toward me, I was already assembling the documentation he would need to see. My drivers licence, my insurance and my proof of ownership. It occurs to me, these documents serve a significant purpose.

My driver's licence verifies who I am, it demonstrates that, at some point, I was tested on my ability to drive, my understanding of the rules of the road and that the provincial government knows I drive.

My insurance is required by law. It's there to ensure others don't suffer for my mistakes that loss of property can be compensated for, etc.

The proof of ownership verifies the car is mine, I have the right to drive it, I didn't steal it (although I was driving it like I stole it, but I digress) and that it too is licensed, registered even, with the province.

Driving a car is a huge responsibility, it's not a right, it's a privilege in our community. A car, truck or any other type of vehicle is dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible person, present company included, someone who is suffering from specific illnesses and those over a certain age, they need to keep demonstrating they can operate the car safely.

So why is it when it comes to guns, it is such a hard concept to want to know who owns them, verify that the people who own them know how to operate them, and to protect the general public from misuse?

Opponents of the long gun registry harp on about the cost of setting up, as the most significant reason to dismantle it. Well the money is gone and spent, and there are many more wasteful and useless programs the government is attached to that could be and should be scrapped, so "waste" is not exactly a justifiable reason to scrap it. Now that it's up and running and being used the ongoing costs are not significant. To throw it away, wastes the entire effort.

And yes it is getting used. According to the most recent report on the registry, tabled, but not discussed in Parliament: in 2003, police officers accessed the online firearms registry an average of 1,811 times a day: by the end of September 2009, it was accessed by police an average of 10,818 times a day.

This debate is being framed as urban vs rural, but never have I seen rural needs triumph over urban: ever! So there's more to it than that. If rural had that much power, we'd have a regional transportation system, doctors and adequate education funding.

This registry is a step in the right direction of helping our police cope with domestic violence. One out of three women killed by their partners is killed with a long-gun. (Stats Canada) For a woman experiencing any form of domestic abuse, a gun in the home is an unspoken threat, a potential risk to her safety.

We need to keep this registry, we need to keep tools in the hands of our police so that more women are not killed. As we come upon the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, we reflect upon what that taught us, what preventative lessons we could learn. This registry was one of those lessons, one of the steps taken to protect women. Between 1991 and 2006, the use of shotguns and rifles in homicides declined by 65% because of stricter controls (Statistics Canada 2008).

This registry isn't about farmers and red tape, it's about women's safety and the safety of the officers who put their lives on the line, every time they respond to a domestic violence call.
Francesca Dobbyn Owen Sound

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