by Kris Sims
OTTAWA – A guns rights expert says Ontario is ignoring a federal order to destroy the data contained in the now dead long-gun registry in an attempt to create a back-door registry of its own.
Superintendent Chris Wyatt, Ontario’s chief firearms officer, wrote to all gun store owners in the province, telling them to keep paper records of everyone who buys hunting rifles.
He also shared his interpretation of the federal order to destroy all long-gun registry data.
“Bill C-19 does not define record of registration,” writes Wyatt in a letter dated April 10. “The Chief Firearms Officer is taking the interpretation that a record of registration is the registration certificate number or a firearms identification number only.”
In other words, said criminal lawyer Solomon Friedman, the provincial office still intends to keep the names, addresses, firearms license numbers and number of long guns each person has in Ontario, as they were recorded during the federal registry, which Bill C-19 squashed.
“This is an attempt to create a shadow long-gun registry,” said Friedman, who specializes in firearms law.
“Parliament has said with the passage of Bill C-19, you do not need to keep a record of long gun transfers, you just need a valid license, the chief fire arms officer of Ontario disagrees apparently.”
The federal government wouldn’t comment on the specifics, but made it clear they won’t be helping anyone trying to salvage the registry.
“The federal government will not assist the provinces in setting up a registry by the back door,” said Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner in a statement.
“While this is a provincial issue, our government has always been clear: C-19 delivers on our government’s promise to end the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry once and for all and it has done nothing to keep Canadians safe.
“Canadians have been clear on their desire to end this $2-billion boondoggle that criminalized law-abiding Canadians.”
The feds aren’t saying what, if any, action they are able to take to ensure the destruction of the registry data held by Ontario.
“The entire approach that (Wyatt) is taking makes it very clear that the Chief Fire Arms Office is not content to administer the law, but wishes to impose law in an approach that Parliament has already abandoned.” said Friedman.
The provincial government says that is not their intention.
“Ontario does not have a province-wide gun registry or database, Ontario has no plans to create one. Period.” wrote Madeleine Meilleur, minister of community safety, in a letter to QMI Agency.
“Anyone selling a gun must keep a ledger, in their place of business, of the weapons they have sold. Those long-standing federal laws did not change when the national gun registry was abolished.”
Friedman said there actually is no federal law for store owners to keep paper ledgers of customers who buy hunting rifles, and that the practice predates the need for federally issued licences.
The federal Conservatives had promised for nearly two decades to destroy the federal long gun registry. It was most loathed in Western and rural Canada where many hunters and sports shooters live. Reform and Alliance MPs dubbed it the “billion-dollar boondoggle.”
Quebec is fighting the feds in court, trying to keep long-gun registry data held by their province.