While there was no dancing in the streets, as he predicted in other reports, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber and the rest of the federal Conservative party are ecstatic now that the repeal of the long gun registry has passed third reading in the House of Commons.
The bill was passed Wednesday night by a vote of 159-130, marking the completion of was of the Tories’ long-standing campaign promises. Two New Democratic Party MPs even broke ranks and vote with the Conservatives.
“This is a bill I’ve spent a lot of time on in terms of hearings and study, vetting and addressing amendments,” Rathgeber said, noting there were receptions on Wednesday night to mark the passing of the bill, although he did not participate as he was fighting off the flu. “It was a great sense of satisfaction to finally have it complete, because so many Albertans had very strong feelings that the long gun registry was an invasion on their rights and tended to criminalize people for what was otherwise lawful behaviour.”
Although Edmonton-St. Albert is a predominantly urban riding, Rathgeber still heard from plenty of his constituents who felt repealing the registry was the right thing to do.
“There is a significant number of individuals who live in [St. Albert] who are sportsmen — who, on weekends, are duck hunters or big game hunters, and certainly we heard loud and clear from those individuals that this bill was an invasion of their rights and of their privacy,” he said.
While it’s true that the registry did assist police in convicting one of the accomplices in the Mayerthorpe RCMP shootings in 2005, as well as in a recent incident near Killam, Rathgeber said the fact those incidents actually happened outweighs any good the registry did after the fact.
“Weighed against the fact that four officers died that day [in Mayerthorpe] and the long gun reigstry was unable to do anything to prevent that, I think that … incident sadly and tragically shows the limitations of what was always sort of a misguided premise: that criminals would register their guns,” he said.
Even with the demise of the registry, Rathgeber said there are still plenty of adequate gun control measures in place, most notably the licensing of firearms owners.
“It’s the individual that’s licensed, and that doesn’t change. … Licensing deals with the individual; registration deals with the property,” he said. “In my view, and the view of the government, the two are completely different. It’s individuals that need to be licensed to show they are capable of safely handling firearms and don’t have criminal backgrounds. But registering the weapons doesn’t contribute to safety.”
The bill repealing the registry must now pass through the Senate.
— GLENN COOK, St. Albert Leader