Tory spin on new gun rules doesn’t wash, experts say
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/10/2012 (3819 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The Tory government that killed the long-gun registry this year now says placing serial numbers on rifles and shotguns contributes to public safety by allowing police to trace them to their legal owners.
Starting Dec. 1, long-delayed rules on gun markings will come into force.
After years of demonizing the Liberal-built long-gun registry as “wasteful” and “ineffective,” the Harper government says there is some utility after all in being able to track sport and hunting weapons.
“We are requiring firearms to be permanently marked with a serial number to distinguish them from other firearms,” Julie Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said in an email.
A government backgrounder states the “rationale” for the new rules is police investigations. Yet the document notes the end of the long-gun registry severely limits the utility of such gun markings.
Last June, the Tories also introduced legislation to ensure gun dealers don’t have to keep records identifying buyers of non-restricted weapons.
In effect, serial numbers on rifles will be as useful as a licence plate or VIN delinked from any vehicle owner database. Investigators will be able to determine where and when the gun was made, and when it was imported to Canada, but not much more.
And unlike the original 2004 regulations that have been postponed three times by the Tories, the incoming rules will not be enforced.
Since reputable gun makers already include serial numbers on every weapon, the rules puzzle critics.
When asked to explain the government line, Carmichael responded: “This is placing the responsibility to deal with law enforcement on the firearms manufacturer, rather than law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters.”
Gun advocates rejected the government spin. “Knowing how a firearm may have come into the country 12 years ago tells you exactly what at a crime scene? It doesn’t really tell you anything,” said Tony Bernardo, spokesman for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
The real reason for the new regulations is international protocols, he said.
— The Canadian Press