Leef attacks Liberals’ gun control promises

Ryan Leef says plans in the federal Liberals' platform on guns make it "crystal clear" the party wants a return to some type of a gun registry - even if they refuse to call it that.

Ryan Leef says plans in the federal Liberals’ platform on guns make it “crystal clear” the party wants a return to some type of a gun registry – even if they refuse to call it that.

The Conservative MP says Liberal’s plans to sign a UN international arms treaty as well as their new domestic promises essentially equate to the same thing.

“A registry by any other name is a registry,” he said.

Leef said the Liberals have not changed, even though they’ve stopped talking about the registry they once championed.

“They have no intention of backing away from deeply held values that have been embedded in that party since the ‘90s and the ‘80s,” he said.

“They just find today that its decidedly inconvenient for them to talk about a long gun registry because they know it’s not popular.”

Yukon Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell says that’s not true. His party has repeatedly said it won’t bring back the gun registry.

Leef’s comments come days after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was called “anti-gun” by Canada’s National Firearms Association.

But the fight between Leef and Bagnell over the issue dates back long before that, to the last election. Many people blame Bagnell’s vote to keep the registry, even after telling voters he would oppose it, for his loss.

Leef has taken out full-page ads this election claiming Liberals will bring back a registry. Bagnell’s campaign has spent considerable time denying it.

Leef points to two parts of the Liberal’s platform as signs of an impending registry if they win Oct. 19.

First is a promise to “require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes.”

The second is a promise from leader Justin Trudeau to sign the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty.

The treaty is meant to regulate the international trade in weapons, everything from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. It’s supposed to help prevent those things from ending up in the illegal market overseas.

“The big concern about this treaty, for countries like Canada is our country being used as a transfer site,” said UBC professor Michael Byers.

“So weapons, let’s say, being exported from the United States, through Canada, to a conflict zone.”

The United States signed the treaty two years ago. So far, Canada’s Conservative government has refused to do so, although Prime Minister Stephen Harper lately hasn’t ruled out signing the treaty either.

“Canada agrees with almost all of the elements of that treaty, and we’re consulting with industry,” he said during a debate last week.

The treaty specifically states it does not control the domestic use of weapons in any country, only international trade.

Leef points to a section of the treaty that requires signatories to maintain a list of firearms. “This agreement would then require Canada to maintain a list of parts, components, ammunitions or firearms and make that list public,” Leef said.

In fact, much of what Leef describes is merely encouraged by the treaty, rather than required. “There’s no legal requirement to have a gun registry,” said Byers.

The national control list that Leef is concerned about would “simply be a record of imports and exports. It doesn’t concern end users,” Byers said.

The countries are “encouraged” to include things like quantity, value and details on end users on their list “as appropriate,” but again, that does not make it a requirement. Making the list public is similarly optional.

Byers points out that the treaty negotiations were led by the United States, which has signed on.

“The United States is more concerned about the liberties of individual gun owners in the United States than anything else,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the U.S.‘s signing of the treaty will have no impact on domestic gun owners there.

Bagnell said the treaty is “just to prevent military arms being sent to rogue nations and that’s all anyone who has signed (like the USA) uses it for.”

The Liberal promise to require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to help police is not the same thing as a registry, either, said Bagnell.

“That’s just the venders keeping records of what they’re selling. It’s not, there’s no onus on innocent hunters or anything to do anything. They don’t have to do anything, they don’t have to register or anything.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at