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Gallant reacts to Conservatives scrapping gun registry

The long-gun registry has met its Waterloo, 17 years after becoming the law of the land.

As expected, the majority Conservative government, plus two Northern Ontario NDP members, voted 159-130 Wednesday in support of Bill C-19, killing the registry which the party and rural Canada have rallied against since it became law in 1995.

While it technically still exists - the bill now moves into the Senate - it is expected to pass there too, thanks to the majority the Conservatives enjoy in the Upper Chamber. After that, it just needs Royal Assent from the Governor General to make it formal.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has stated the information gathered under the registry would be destroyed as soon as possible after Royal Assent has been granted.

The battle against the registry, and claims law abiding shooters, hunters and farmers were being treated as if they were criminals, has been often portrayed as an urban/rural clash of values, with city dwellers trying to dictate how those in the country should live their lives.

This fight over the long-gun registry spilled over into Renfrew County, and led directly to the 2000 election win of MP Cheryl Gallant, as she rode the angry backlash against the Liberal Party and then-sitting Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Hec Clouthier into becoming the riding's representative, ending 76 years of Liberal rule.

Now 12 years later, she is basking in the glow of victory over this week's scuttling the long-gun registry, something she has sworn she would work towards since the day she first took office.

Describing it as a historic vote in the House of Commons which represents years of hard work, the MP said this is a win everyone in the riding can savour together.

"It was a day we all looked forward to, and a great moment for everyone," she said, saying this is a win which should be shared with everyone who never lost faith that they would be successful.

"This is really a victory for everyone who stuck with this fight all these years," since Bill C-68 first appeared on the scene.

The defeat of the long-gun registry doesn't mean the end of all registry of firearms, she said. The hand gun registry still remains in place, and the government will go back to the old FAC system which was in place before the long-gun registry was imposed.

"The real celebrating will come once Bill C-19 receives Royal Assent," MP Gallant said, which will happen later this year. How soon depends on how quickly it goes through the Senate.

She also said the long-gun database and all its copies will be deleted, that way if any other government wanted to resurrect it, they'll face a difficult task to do so.

The Member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke said the registry, with a total cost approaching $2 billion, wasn't doing the job it was intended to do anyway, which was keeping track of the movement of long-guns.

She said what isn't known is serial numbers on firearms will repeat themselves as their manufacture continues, making their use to track individual ones inaccurate over time.

As well, the registry does nothing to prevent people from legally trading and borrowing firearms amongst themselves.

"The whole thing has been a farce from the outset," she said. What made it particularly infuriating is how the government of the day ignored the facts and the will of the people to push the registry through.

MP Gallant said since word got out of the passage of C-19, she and her office have been receiving a lot of emails of support from people of all ages thanking the government for taking steps to do away with the registry.

Members of the Pembroke Outdoor Sportsman's Club, who have chafed for years under the registry, were delighted by its impending end. Firearms owners have argued existing licensing laws and regulations are sufficiently strict, and so a national long-gun registry was not needed or desired, especially as it seemed to be aimed at the law abiding, who would obey gun laws, rather than target the criminals, who would not.

Troy Gervais, club president, said all members of the POSC are extremely pleased with the long awaited "scrapping" of the long gun registry.

"It's unfortunate that it took this long to finally put an end to this inefficient waste of resources, funded by hard working Canadians," he said.

"As this is a major first step for responsible firearms owners in the struggle to regain their rights, we feel the Conservative government of Stephen Harper should be thanked for their determination in completing an election promise, and are encouraged to continue to challenge ineffective laws like this that only punish law abiding citizens of this great country."

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