BRING BACK GUN REGISTRY: OPP DEPUTY COMMISSIONER
By Frank Matys
A deputy commissioner of the OPP is applauding Quebec’s plan for a provincial firearms registry and says Ontario – or the federal government – should consider following suit.
“Would I personally like to see a discussion start to take place? Absolutely I would,” Scott Tod said in an interview. “(At) either level.”
Tod broached the subject at a recent event hosted by OPP General Headquarters in honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
(The event included an emotional presentation by Dawn Novak, whose daughter Natalie was stabbed to death by a former boyfriend.)
A father of two young daughters and a son, Tod personalized the issue by wondering aloud if his daughters are more vulnerable than his son might be.
“The answer to that every day is yes,” he said.
Moments later, Tod addressed the plan by Quebec to introduce a firearms registry, telling the audience it “promotes what we believe is public safety.
“And it promotes the ability for us to keep weapons out of (the hands of) people who are dangerous,” Tod added.
The OPP supported the national firearms registry that was abolished under the former Conservative government.
“We are not supportive of the elimination of the firearms registry in any way,” Tod told Orillia Today. “From an officer safety standpoint, it provides us information that is readily accessible to our individual officers who are responding to residences and other places, businesses that may have firearms present or registered to those addresses.”
The gun registry was important not only for officer safety but for the general public as well, he said.
Liz Westcott, executive director of the Orillia-based Green Haven Shelter For Women, agrees.
“The fact that police chiefs across the country were really in favour of (a registry) and fought hard to keep it, and then to have demolished it was, I thought, a bit of a tragedy,” Westcott said. “Hopefully, (Quebec’s plan) will set a catalyst and set an example for the rest of the country to follow.”
Ontario’s Liberal government supports tougher gun laws but says a long-gun registry is only effective on a national scale.
The province has no plan to create a registry, said Lauren Callighen, press secretary to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
“However, our government encourages the federal government to put in place stronger measures to get handguns off our streets and to work towards a system that will alert officers of potential weapons in a residence when they are responding to calls,” Callighen said.
Ontario urged the former Harper government to retain Canada’s long-gun registry, she noted.
It then asked Ottawa not to delete the data contained in the now-abolished registry, “but it was to no avail,” she added.
During the federal election campaign, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau vowed to enact measures that would make it harder for criminals to acquire and use handguns and assault weapons.
These include: $100 million annually to support guns-and-gangs task forces; enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearm; and repealing legislation that allows restricted and prohibited firearms to be transported without a permit.
The federal government will not create a new national long-gun registry, Trudeau said.
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