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Yellowknifers say goodbye to gun registry
Registry files to be destroyed after law received royal assent last week

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, April 14, 2012

With the law to scrap Canada's controversial long-gun registry having received royal assent Thursday, Yellowknifers are chiming in on what they think this means.

NNSL photo/graphic

Brent Rausch concentrates on hitting the target during the small-bore silhouette rifle competition at the NWT Federation of Shooting Sports Territorial Championships at the Yk Shooting Range last year. Some Yellowknifers are celebrating the end to the long-gun registry. - NNSL file photo

"Yahoo!" exclaimed Gary Pirker when Yellowknifer informed him of the registry's scrapping during an interview Monday.

"It was a long time in coming,," he said, adding he enjoys hunting whenever he has the opportunity.

He said he has no problem with people needing to take training before they can purchase a firearm or registering as a gun owner, but said registering each weapon went too far.

"Registration is the first step toward confiscation," said Pirker.

"No one ever gave a clear example of how it served anyone. Myself, as a registered gun owner, I'm all for the possession and acquisition licence. That makes sense."

He said he's never heard of an example where having information on the types of firearms owned by a person has saved a life.

"So now, with the RCMP wanting to enter my home, would they really care if I only have a .22, or a 30-30 shotgun. Are they going to treat me any differently if my firearms are under a certain calibre?" said Pirker.

He described the registry as a waste of money that was a knee-jerk reaction to the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

"To the best of my knowledge it was brought up as a way to appease some uneducated voters out east after the (Ecole) Polytechnique incident," said Pirker. "It was a ridiculous, buffoon setup, surely to get those voters to think (the government) is doing something.

To illustrate the waste Pirker said he saw in the system, he said he recalls registering his eight guns during the registry's amnesty period, but still receiving rebates.

Likewise, Barry Taylor, an outfitter and president of the Yellowknife Shooting Club, was pleased with the news.

"It's about time. It was poor legislation, never accomplished anything," said Taylor. "The only time the gun registry could help was like at Mayerthorpe, after the crime's committed, after you have a gun, after you have a suspect, the registry can pair them up," said Taylor.

"It's going to make life simpler," said Taylor. He said it was a standard topic of complaint among shooting club members, and said the sorts of things owners would say about it is not fit to print in a "family publication."

With the passing of Bill C-19, Canadians will no longer have to register individual long guns and all records associated with the registry will be destroyed.

Joe Handley, former premier of the NWT from 2003 to 2007, said he does think the registry was useful, and that he doesn't understand the destruction of already existing files.

"I've always been in favour of the registry, but it just seems a pointless exercise. We have this system in place and ... it's just pointless. It's just a political promise that somebody had made," said Handley.

"I think it's raised the awareness, first of all, of the fact there are a lot of firearms in homes, and in that way has probably inspired a lot of young people taking firearms safety.

"Whether it saved lives, I don't know. You know, there are people who lose their lives every year, a woman lately, because of misuse of firearms, and we will never know, but that could have been prevented," said Handley.

Sixty-seven per cent of NWT households had at least one firearm, according to a 2005 report by the Department of Health and Social Services. There was no breakdown of the type of guns within the household.

When the registry was created in 1995 under the federal Liberals, Canadians were told the total cost would amount to approximately $2 million. However, in 2005, Canadians learned that the true cost of the registry was in fact more than $1 billion.

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