Good riddance to gun registry, NTI says

Land claims organization keeps lawsuit on hold until details clear



The new Conservative government’s decision to scrap the gun registry has given the president of Nunavut’s land claims organization “new hope” that firearms officials will stop “harassing” Inuit beneficiaries who were supposed to be protected by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

“I’m looking forward to new changes so that Inuit will get better access to ammunition they need and the firearms they need on a daily basis,” said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Paul Kaludjak.

NTI is organizing a meeting with the new federal Justice Minister Vic Toews, one of three members of Parliament charged with finding a way to kill the gun registry as quickly as possible. The other two members of that committee are Garry Breitkreuz, a Saskatchewan MP and former Conservative gun registry critic, and Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Security.

NTI and the Government of Nunavut have had a legal challenge outstanding against the federal Firearms Act since November, 2000.

That lawsuit is still “engaged,” Kaludjak said, although in five years, no date has been set for a court hearing.

Ideally, NTI will be able to scrap that lawsuit once the registry is dismantled, but Kaludjak said his organization will wait and see what the Conservatives intend.

“Does it mean that we don’t need to register our firearms anymore? Does it mean that they’re going to kill the fee? Are they going to stop requiring licences within the settlement area?”

Overall, the Firearms Act has had minimal impact on the Inuit of Nunavut, Kaludjak said, where firearms are still viewed as a harvesting tool rather than a dangerous weapon. At its worst, gun licencing applications have been “something a lot of people are getting harassed with.”

To make matter worse, the Canada Firearms Centre in Iqaluit has been an “on and off again service,” with firearms officers coming and going, and long periods with no staff at all. None of the federal gun materials were translated into Inuktitut.

If the gun registry is dismantled, the Government of Nunavut will no longer have an excuse not to provide gun safety training and education to Nunavut harvesters.
The GN is ultimately responsible for what happens in Nunavut, Kaludjak said, but he expects future gun safety training to be a joint effort between the two organizations.

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