I got a speeding ticket the other day. It's a big one. Real stupid move on my part, and I should know better. I offer no excuses or justification. I've also been reflecting on it; my state of mind at the time, and what I've learned about myself and how I can make changes.
As I reflected on the incident, I noted something.
As the officer left his cruiser and walked toward me, I was already assembling the documentation he would need to see. My drivers licence, my insurance and my proof of ownership. It occurs to me, these documents serve a significant purpose.
My driver's licence verifies who I am, it demonstrates that, at some point, I was tested on my ability to drive, my understanding of the rules of the road and that the provincial government knows I drive.
My insurance is required by law. It's there to ensure others don't suffer for my mistakes that loss of property can be compensated for, etc.
The proof of ownership verifies the car is mine, I have the right to drive it, I didn't steal it (although I was driving it like I stole it, but I digress) and that it too is licensed, registered even, with the province.
Driving a car is a huge responsibility, it's not a right, it's a privilege in our community. A car, truck or any other type of vehicle is dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible person, present company included, someone who is suffering from specific illnesses and those over a certain age, they need to keep demonstrating they can operate the car safely.
So why is it when it comes to guns, it is such a hard concept to want to know who owns them, verify that the people who own them know how to operate them, and to protect the general public from misuse?
Opponents of the long gun registry harp on about the cost of setting up, as the most significant reason to dismantle it. Well the money is gone and spent, and there are many more wasteful and useless programs the government is attached to that could be and should be scrapped, so "waste" is not exactly a justifiable reason to scrap it. Now that it's up and running and being used the ongoing costs are not significant. To throw it away, wastes the entire effort.
And yes it is getting used. According to the most recent report on the registry, tabled, but not discussed in Parliament: in 2003, police officers accessed the online firearms registry an average of 1,811 times a day: by the end of September 2009, it was accessed by police an average of 10,818 times a day.
This debate is being framed as urban vs rural, but never have I seen rural needs triumph over urban: ever! So there's more to it than that. If rural had that much power, we'd have a regional transportation system, doctors and adequate education funding.
This registry is a step in the right direction of helping our police cope with domestic violence. One out of three women killed by their partners is killed with a long-gun. (Stats Canada) For a woman experiencing any form of domestic abuse, a gun in the home is an unspoken threat, a potential risk to her safety.
We need to keep this registry, we need to keep tools in the hands of our police so that more women are not killed. As we come upon the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, we reflect upon what that taught us, what preventative lessons we could learn. This registry was one of those lessons, one of the steps taken to protect women. Between 1991 and 2006, the use of shotguns and rifles in homicides declined by 65% because of stricter controls (Statistics Canada 2008).
This registry isn't about farmers and red tape, it's about women's safety and the safety of the officers who put their lives on the line, every time they respond to a domestic violence call.
Francesca Dobbyn Owen Sound