All Hail the Mighty Wedge Issue! by Jamie Labonte – May 1, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Wedge issues are like crack cocaine to fringe politicians. They appear to reinforce the base, get huge applause from guaranteed voters and define your platform like nothing else can. Perhaps this is why the
Conservative party has seized upon Canada’s long-gun registry. It appeals to the libertarian ideals of many rural folks. Folks that don’t want government interference in taxes, farming practices, construction regulations, asset management etc. The long-gun registry is not felt to be needed by rural Canadians since they have used and maintained these firearms all their lives and feel that they can police themselves.

On the face of things, they could be right. It is understandable that they feel the registry is implying that gun owners can’t or shouldn’t be trusted. It shows in the polls too! In September of 2010, an Angus Reid poll found 46% of Canadians want to scrap the registry, and only 40% want to save it, with support for it highest in Quebec and lowest in the Prairies. As you can see, rural areas tend to favor less controls like these.

Now it’s important to note that the Conservatives would rather the police stick to using POL(Possession only License) and PAL (Possession and Acquisition License) to find out who has a firearm. Now technically, this does not say who possesses a firearm but merely who is licensed to possess one. Critics of the registry say, “What’s the difference?, if they aren’t legally allowed to possess one, then they aren’t about to register one either”. This has a ring of truth to it that’s hard to deny. The oft used argument that “criminals don’t register their firearms” is fair.

This of course does not take into account what actual police officers are saying. In the recent debates, Ignatieff points out that not a
single police officer enters a home regarding a domestic dispute without consulting the registry which is available through the C-PIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) computer in their squad car. With the possible exception of former police chief (turned Conservative Cabinet Minister) Julien Fantino, all of Canada’s police chiefs support the registry citing that it keeps their officers safe.

So, if you’re like myself, you are probably of two minds on the subject.  You agree with protecting police officers, but you feel that the
registry is too loaded down with bureaucracy to function in an effective manner.

Enter my genius solution. Insurance! Yes, has anyone ever thought about this? We insure cars and car ownership is tracked this way. We insure our homes, our boats, our motorcycles, in fact we insure all the things that can possibly cause public liability or property damage. Does anyone think that it’s odd that we aren’t mandating insurance of guns?

To me, this solves several problems. Firstly, the money required to insure can be provided by the owner and no other tax payer….I’m happy….I don’t own a gun.

Secondly, there is a harm reduction approach that insures owners have all the required training, licensing etc and if on the odd chance they accidentally maim themselves or someone else, there’s even money for the medical treatment! Police can track the insurance records for guns upon entering a home, owners will be encouraged to use safe practices with guns lest their rates go up and an expensive level of bureaucracy is replaced with a very happy insurance industry.

The vast majority of Canadians , the non-gun-owners, will be pleased at the result.

Somehow, I don’t think my solution will ingratiate me with rural Canada,
though. And so continues the wedge…

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James Moak


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