I am a hunter, not a criminal

Every year, at the end of October, my father and I head up to the old family farm in southwestern Manitoba and participate in an age-old Mirecki tradition: deer hunting. As I write this article, I am sitting in an old school bus that my uncle has converted into a supreme hunting shed. Stars are shining, wood stove is burning and I’m eating peanuts out of a brown paper bag. It may not have Wi-Fi, but it certainly gets the job done.

Now, I am as typical a city slicker as one gets, but four days of the year I become Mr. “Man vs. Nature.” I wake up at 5 a.m., pack my gear, brush the dust off my muzzleloader and spend about 12 hours alone in the bush waiting for the big kill. This may not sound like the typical “fun” to the average reader and some may even find it offensive, however, as the old saying goes, “Don’t judge until you have tried it!”

For the record, I do not hunt for sport. I hunt to provide food for my family. If it happens to be fun at the same time, well, I guess I kill two deer with one bad joke.

My family has been hunting for generations, and when I was old enough for the Government of Manitoba to allow me to hunt, I took the hunter safety course, strapped on my camouflage (and mandatory blaze orange wear) and away I went.

The next decade of hunting is history. I came away with some great hunting stories and experiences, got to spend some quality time with my family, and got some much needed peace and quiet from the busy city.

This year, I was sitting in the freezing cold, nothing but trees and snow in sight, when it suddenly hit me: I am not a criminal! Nor is anything about deer hunting criminal in nature. So why does the Liberal Party of Canada feel the need to treat me like one?

Lets play the game “if I were a federal legislator” for just a moment. It seems Canada, like many developed nations, has a problem with illegally imported firearms and restricted weapons, which are then used for various criminal activities in Canada. So why don’t we crackdown on legally purchased muzzleloaders and hunting rifles? That way we will have fewer resources to combat crime where it actually exists! Genius.

If you are twisting your face in confusion just now, then I have done my job. Firearms that are used for crime are rarely registered. In 2003, Vancouver police recorded that 97 per cent of reported firearm seizures were smuggled from the United States by organized crime. In addition, out of the seven million registered long guns in Canada, only two per cent of the 2,441 homicides recorded since mandatory long gun registration was introduced were committed using long guns.

For the over $2 billion ($106 million per year to support) it has cost Canadians for the long-gun registry, what has it accomplished?

Do you feel safer now that the names of the long-gun owners who are least likely to commit gun crimes are recorded in an inefficient database gaining dust? Could you think of a better way to spend $2 billion in order to protect Canadians from firearm violence? Putting that money towards stopping the imports of illegal firearm imports perhaps? Or maybe, placing more resources behind our men and women in uniform so that they can better crack down on organized crime? Unfortunately, the opposition view is that if the bill has a “Tory” sticker on it, it must be wrong — regardless if it is arguably the right thing to do.

As Canadians, we often frown upon police profiling innocent Canadians who share a common characteristic — race, social class, geographic habitation, etc. One particularly controversial list in Canada is the National Sex Offender Registry that “works to enhance public protection by helping police identify possible suspects.” The notable difference is that these individuals have actually been convicted of crimes! Innocent Canadians who own long guns should not be treated like possible suspects, and this form of profiling should be stopped.

In November of 2010, the Conservative government managed to get 21 opposition MPs to vote to scrap the long-gun registration, but unfortunately 14 MPs who had originally voted against the Registry decided to flip flop and support the wasteful registry. On Sept. 22, Bill C-391 to scrap the long-gun registry was defeated by the federal opposition, 153 to 151 votes, in the House of Commons.

Now, I completely agree with Canada’s policy on handguns and other restricted firearms. I am not some raging gun nut who thinks that any government restriction on my right to bare arms should be removed! I am simply a good old fashioned deer hunter who disagrees with having his name on a list of suspected criminals, paying for additional fees and going through government red tape.

Especially when the federal government could clearly be using that money to better protect the lives of all Canadians.

Kyle Mirecki fourth-year political studies honour student.