Straight shooting on the gun registry

Straight shooting on the gun registry I respect everyone's right to have a perspective on the gun registry, but I am getting angry at the use of this one issue by various factions to play political games Ð be they trying to sway votes so as to win a ridi

I respect everyone’s right to have a perspective on the gun registry, but I am getting angry at the use of this one issue by various factions to play political games Ð be they trying to sway votes so as to win a riding in some upcoming election or to fundraise for a political party.

From my perspective, registering certain classes of property is not an issue that should make or break, or even change the direction of nations.

We face much more serious environmental, economic, social and cultural issues.

I would suspect many gun registry opponents would support much more onerous and expensive property registries.

Registries may even protect the rights of an individual (a land registry that ensures ownership of our real-estate holding) or provide both a record of ownership and a tool to allow authorities to track down misuse of that property, such as our vehicles and boats.

True, a vehicle can be considered a lethal weapon. But, like guns, most aren’t acquired (and registered) by law-abiding owners including farmers, fisherman and duck hunters to go out and commit mayhem on the streets.

Do we oppose registering them Ð I haven’t heard of anyone doing so yet, though if statistics are correct they cause much more death and injury than firearms.

We even register our pets. And many people even register their jewelry.

I have never heard of a diamond killing someone Ð at least directly, though people have been known to kill for them.

I personally support a gun registry, though I recognize many of my friends and neighbours don’t Ð a perspective I respect.

Why? Am I not a freedom-loving Yukoner opposed to having government interfering in my life when inappropriate?

I am, but I also believe for the good of society there are appropriate actions government should take. And registering firearms is one.

Do I feel the registry or the management of firearms can be improved? Again, yes. There aren’t many things that can’t be improved upon.

But I also come from the question from personal experience.

When working as a National Park superintendent in Yoho, based out of Field, BC, I was almost shot by an unregistered long gun, a firearm used to kill an RCMP officer on the Coquihalla Highway the next day.

How do I know the gun was not registered? Because the incident occurred before the registry.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Field and Golden had been closed one night because of a weather system moving east that was triggering avalanches in the Kicking Horse Canyon.

The one RCMP officer in Field and park wardens were called out to hold traffic at Field and they needed help.

I was a designated National Parks Act peace officer, so I was asked to help manage traffic.

My job was to prevent any travellers from parking under a known avalanche track near the Field Ð Trans-Canada Highway intersection. I would talk to drivers and direct them towards to the appropriate place to park and to services, such as washrooms in the Visitor Information Building. The next day the RCMP officer was shot by a group of escaped convicts who were travelling towards Vancouver from Alberta.

As I recall the weapon was a shotgun, possibly originally purchased for hunting birds Ð though I have no way of knowing that.

A few weeks later, our local RCMP asked me if I recalled the vehicle and people involved because, after capture, they told interrogators they certainly remembered me.

It seems they couldn’t understand why they, along with everyone, had been pulled over unless it was part of a manhunt.

They were expecting me to open their door and they had the shotgun pointing at what would have been my stomach.

Even so, they suggested to the police interviewing them that they almost shot me through the door panel.

As I told the police of the drivers of several hundred vehicles I spoke to that night, mostly transport trucks and a few passenger vehicles, I couldn’t recall anyone behaving especially nervously.

Would a registry have prevented those incidents? I don’t believe so, but it may have helped the authorities figure out where, and possibly from whom, these individuals obtained the firearm.

I also find it interesting recent statistics that have come out suggest that most police are not shot with handguns but long guns. Of course, some people just don’t want to listen to statistics.

Let’s stop making the gun registry the most important issue our government is dealing with and the issue by which we judge the performance of our political options.

Ian Church

Whitehorse