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Bill C-391 Wins Free Vote Nod

Aprivate member’s bill aimed at scrapping the long-gun registry passed a critical vote in the House of Commons last week, but local gun sellers and owners aren’t breaking out the champagne just yet.

Travis Vandaele, owner of Jo-Brook Firearms in Brandon, noted that before Bill C-391 becomes law, it will still have to survive more steps in the legislative process.

“It’s always the same old story – don’t get your hopes up,” he said. “Everything is going to be the same until they make it law.”

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s Bill C-391, which would end the requirement that all long guns in the country be registered, passed second reading with the support of 12 NDP, eight Liberals and one Independent member of Parliament from mainly rural ridings.

In a statement released immediately after the vote, the member for Portage Lisgar called the vote “a victory against government waste and mismanagement” for law-abiding long-gun owners.

Bill C-391 now proceeds to the Public Safety committee for further study. As part of the legislative process, witnesses both for and against the bill as well as experts will be heard before it returns to the House of Commons for third reading and a final vote.

If approved, it will go to the Senate for a vote. If approved, it would then receive royal assent, and finally become law as early as next spring.

Vandaele said that when the changes to the Firearms Act were introduced in 1994, business dropped off temporarily while hunters, farmers and sport shooters digested the changes. But once they got their training and applied for the appropriate licensing, business picked up again.

Still, an end to the registration step for gun buyers and sellers would mean a much more convenient and streamlined process.

Greg Steele, an avid Northwest Mounted Police re-enactor, gun collector and firearms safety instructor, said news that an end to the long-gun registry may be within sight was heartening, but he joked that it’s probably too early to start burning long-gun registration certificates.

“We only really have a first good step,” he said, adding that Bill C-391 still has a long way to go before it becomes law.

Steele admitted to being “a little bit” surprised that the bill actually passed, mainly because there is a tendency to assume that the public is always in favour of more regulation and restrictions on firearms, especially in urban areas where gun crime is common.

“Maybe public demand for gun control measures is not as widely held as some might think,” he said. “If we’re using gun registration to achieve crime control, maybe we’ve learned a lesson here that that’s not the way to do it.” [email protected]

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