A few community members said they were not surprised that the federal opposition parties succeed in foiling the Conservative’s effort to kill the long-gun registry Wednesday night.
Enough Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs voted to save the hotly debated federal program, as MPs voted 153-151 to keep the registry.
“I predicted this a month ago,” said Bud Haynes, founder of a family-owned auction mart.
Haynes, who estimated he has sold some 200,000 firearms during his 40 years in business, said he made the prediction based on his belief that police do not want to part with information that the registry provides.
Keeping details on only a specific portion of the population, gun owners in this case, is what those opposed to the registry have a problem with, Haynes argued.
“It’s an invasion of privacy,” he said. “You’re classed as a criminal before you commit a crime.”
Despite being particularly disappointed with the MPs who changed their vote at the last moment — 14 opposition MPs who previously favoured getting rid of the program in fact voted to save it — Haynes said there is little that can be done at this point except to continue working within the parameters of the registry.
Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen, who was in Ottawa for the vote, said he was not surprised that MPs who once expressed their support in abolishing the registry were “whipped” by their party leaders to vote differently.
“I guess the Liberals and the NDP and the Bloc, it’s a decision they had made to try and make sure it didn’t go any further,” he said shortly after the Conservative’s bid to scrap the 15-year-old program was narrowly defeated.
“This was a plan that they had. It was hatched and now I guess the chickens are coming home to roost.
“Someday there will be a vote on the elimination on the wasteful and inefficient long-gun registry,” the Tory promised.
Dreeshen said only two out of the hundreds of constituents who contacted him prior to last night’s vote felt the long-gun registry should be continued, if only because of the billions already spent on program.
Those who support the registry because they believe it helps prevent crime are wrong, Dreeshen argued.
“Look and see the $2 billion spent on this that was not available then to go an actually fight crime,” he said.
“You’re making criminals out of people that are trying their best to follow rules,” Dreeshen continued, saying that he believes the registry is intrusive.
Supt. Brian Simpson said the Red Deer RCMP regularly rely on the registry as part of its call protocol. For example, officers who are attending a break-in that is in progress can access the registry to learn if any weapons are kept on the property.
“Having said that, officers approaching any situation always assume there’s a weapon involved and take the appropriate steps to make themselves safe regardless of the information they have. Because the information is just that, it could be dated and there may be gaps in it.”
Seemingly indifferent to the vote results, Simpson said the RCMP were prepared to work with either outcome.
He did, however, applaud the debate for increasing gun awareness.
“With this whole gun issue, what has been the best benefit has been the fact that people are talking about it,” Simpson said.
“As a result, there’s a lot more awareness. The key here is gun safety and gun eduction, not about not having guns, just that people are trained appropriately.”