Long gun meeting
Canada's long-gun registry has been the subject of debate for years.
Supporters argue that it cuts down on crime. Detractors say it solves nothing and the money can be better spent elsewhere.
On Friday, Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner (Conservative — Portage-Lisgar) will be in Timmins to host a round table discussion on her Private Member's Bill C-391 to scrap the long-gun registry.
Hoeppner has received positive feedback from residents in the Timmins area and has chosen to meet with stakeholder groups and community members for further discussion.
"It's interesting, this issue," she said. "People have not settled down over the last 10 years.
"It's a huge issue and people want to talk about it."
Hoeppner has held different discussions on the issue around her own riding and in Alberta . She said it was time to talk to "grassroots Canadians" who are being affected by it.
With the bill currently in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security stage, Hoeppner said she understands that not everyone would be able to attend and testify. The obvious step was to go to the people.
Late last year, the bill passed second reading in the House of Commons and she expects it to be back in the house by the early part of June.
"These are individuals who have lived under the long-gun registry and all it's demands and yet no benefits," she said. "These are law-abiding Canadians who are not using guns to commit crimes and not using them to contribute to crime in any way, so I want to know how it affects them."
With the debate over the billions of dollars spent on the registry, It's Hoeppner's opinion the money would have been better spent in other ways to cut back on crime. It's money, she said, that could have put more police officers on the streets, providing counselling for people dealing with depression, and helping teens more prone to joining gangs.
The bill, if passed, would only remove the section on long-guns, known as the non-prohibited, non-restricted firearms. Others would still have to be registered.
"If we look now, people still have to get a licence," she said, adding that she finds licensing tremendously important. "Statistically, a study out of Simon Fraser University shows individuals who have a licence to own a firearm are 50% less likely to commit a crime, because they are not criminals.
"The criminals are not getting the licence and for sure are not registering their firearms."
Recently, federal Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff stated that Liberal MPs should vote against the bill upon its third reading, but that lesser penalties would be implemented for those who don't register. Hoeppner called Ignatieff's comments "not well thought out" and irrelevant since they were talking about the registry and not the issue of licences.
Should the bill pass third reading, the senate would have to hold its vote before it becomes official, which could take to the end of the year.
"It's such a bad idea and it's been a bad idea from the start," Hoeppner said. "It's a flawed idea that has cost so much money with virtually no benefit."
Hoeppner admits she's not a gun owner, but remembers her father owning shotguns when she was a child, and having never been afraid.
"I think I'll come away from Timmins with a better understanding," she said. "It's about getting out of Ottawa and getting to grassroots Canadians who are dealing with this issue everyday and finding out how it affects their way of life."