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The Long-Gun Registry Fires Back

The controversial decision to axe the registry is sparking a gun battle both on parliament hill and at home.

by Justin Ling

Creative Commons image from NicoleG; http://www.flickr.com/people/74924323@N00/
Creative Commons image from NicoleG; http://www.flickr.com/people/74924323@N00/
PSAC members at the registry office in Miramichi protest the anticipated scrapping of the long-gun registry
PSAC members at the registry office in Miramichi protest the anticipated scrapping of the long-gun registry

For more on the politics on the registry, check out my blog post; The Long-Gun Registry; On the Firing Line.

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Peter Stoffer doesn’t mince words.

“I decided back in 1995,” He said. “I’ve always been opposed. It’s a bureaucratic mess.”

That “mess” is the section of the Canadian Firearms Act mandating that owners of non-restricted firearms, such as rifles and shotguns, register their weapons with the federal government.

Stoffer, MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore, and eleven of his colleagues in the New Democratic Party voted to scrap the long-gun registry in November of 2009. Despite considerable pressure by labour unions, women’s groups and the association that represents all of Canada’s police chiefs, they don’t seem to be backing down.

Away from parliament hill, activists are putting pressure on those New Democrat MPs who supported the bill to kill the registry. Letter writing campaigns and demonstrations have been organized to encourage Peter Stoffer to change his mind. They have other protests, both in Ottawa and Halifax, in the works for before the bill comes to a vote in the house on September 22nd. Two MPs have already decided to change their vote to support the registry, but unless more of the rogue New Democrats join them, the registry faces an almost certain defeat.

Stoffer, however, doesn’t seem to be feeling the heat.

“It’s hard for me to say what the strategy to move them is; but they need to be moved.” Said Tony Tracy, representative for the Canadian Labour Congress. “Jack [Layton] and the NDP need to do what the Liberals are doing; they need to whip their caucus.”

The Canadian Labour Congress, along with several other labour organizations, has prepared a substantial opposition to the bill, rivaling that of the government’s public campaign to scrap the registry. A website was started that is aimed at pressuring the NDP and Liberal critics of the registry to hold their ground.

The labour movement is doing the exact opposite. The groups have been hammering MPs on the issue, especially those Nova Scotia MPs who supported the bill. Peter Stoffer has been the focus of much of their attention to date. The group has also been reaching out to the public to dispel what they say are myths being propagated by the government.

Tracey says that it doesn’t make sense to exempt long-guns from being catalogued,

“We register cats and dogs. We register cars. There’s very little in our lives that isn’t registered.” He said.

“I don’t see a compelling argument to get rid of it,” Tracey said. “It’s a matter of eradicating violence. It’s a public safety issue.”

According to Statistics Canada, rates of homicide by rifle and shotgun have indeed dropped by about half since the mid-90s, when the registry was introduced, far outpacing the fall in murders using handguns. Since the registry was introduced, robberies with a weapon have fallen by 50%. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians  has also pointed to a sharp decline in the rate of suicides and spousal homicides involving firearms since the implementation of the firearms act. In 1996, 20 cases of spousal homicide involving a rifle or shotgun were recorded. That number went into a steady decline and reached its lowest point in 2007, when there were only six such cases.

It also protects police officers, says the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who recently passed a unanimous resolution to support the registry. They have also begun a public relations campaign intent on salvaging the program.

“I have been a long-time supporter” Said Frank Beazley, Halifax chief of police. “I believe it’s working well. It’s very efficient and very economical.”

Part of Candice the campaign to scrap the registry asserted that while police officers across Canada check the registry about 11,000 times a day, the vast majority of those lookups were for names or addresses.

Beazley explains that the registry is used for more than just checking certification and registration on guns.

“If officers are going on call or to a dangerous area, we check to see if there are weapons in the home,” He said. “There’s a whole lot of difference between knowing there’s a gun in the house and guessing.”

Beazley himself owns several long-guns and said that registering them was a very easy process. It was done online and for free.

“I don’t know what the issue is.” He said.

In a move to stem the loss of jobs that could be caused if the registry is scrapped, Harper announced the consolidation of a pay center for the public service in Miramichi, New Brunswick, where the headquarters for the firearms registry is currently stationed. If the long-gun registry is scrapped, some of the jobs there could be lost.

According to Debby Kelly, the two are apples and oranges.

Kelly, regional vice-president for the Union of Solicitor General Employees, has been active in a campaign by the Public Service Alliance of Canada to save the registry. The PSAC has been active in not only saving the jobs associated with the registry, but saving the registry itself. The union will soon add a feature to its website allowing users to directly email Jack Layton to pressure him to influence his MPs.

“I don’t think it’s going to help the 240 workers at the [firearm] registry office.” She said.

Kelly said that those workers at the registry office do not have transferable skills to the pay center. More likely, those who are already in those positions across the country will either be forced to move to Miramichi or they will lose their jobs. While a few of those who may lose their jobs at the RCMP firearms center may be able to transfer, the rest will likely be cleaning out their desks for good.

The other catch is that while the pay center will create 550 new jobs, it won’t be for another six years. What’s more, Kelly says, is that it could take over a year to train new staff at the center.

 “Up until to the point that Prime Minister Harper announced that there were going to be jobs coming here, he said there would be no job loss...We can estimate that there will be from 20 to 40 jobs [lost].” Said Kellie McKay, president of local 60001 of the Union of Solicitor General Employees; the union that represents the firearms registry workers.

McKay, who works in the registry’s call center, doesn’t put much stock in the anti-registry fervor that Stephen Harper is touting as a reason to axe the program.

 “On a daily basis I may deal with anywhere from 75 to 100 calls a day...It’s not every day we may deal with someone who may be upset. It’s personally been awhile since I’ve had anyone that’s called who’s been upset.”

McKay certainly doesn’t agree with Stoffer’s evaluation of the program as a “mess.”

“The fees have been waved...The program has been streamlined,” She said. “I think the program is very effective.”


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1151 words

Comments

So, just as I figured...

So, just as I figured... according to the Unions, this is about jobs, not safety.

A Little More Research is Needed

My daughter, who has her B.Jou degree, tells me that lots of published stories would not pass first-year muster in J-School. I think we can all agree that paraphrasing press releases with an agenda claiming to quote legitimate statistics is not reporting.

For example, the anti-gun lobby frequently states on air, in its press releases, and in talking points they send to their union buddies, that rates of homicide by long guns has been dropping since the mid nineties, when the registry was introduced. In fact, homicides by all guns and violence against women in general has been dropping since the seventies. Why? perhaps because the '70s featured a demographic bulge of young people not present today, and it is young people who commit most violent crime.

The anti-gun crowd cherry picked the date of the start of the registry to make it appear that it has had some effect on reducing firearms violence. How can it?  The registry contains only about half the long guns in Canada. And a significant number of entries it does have are incorrect.

Remarkably, since the introduction of the registry, handgun violence has increased, even though handguns have been registered since 1934. It seems that the criminal element can make more money importing illegal guns from the U.S. than running the risk of stealing them here.

Mr. Ling might want to go back to check his stats regarding robberies. Robberies with a weapon are not the same thing as robberies with a firearm. Also, he should go back to researching how many of the firearms used in assaults were actually registered. He will find that it was next to none or none at all. We have the criminal element at work here, not law-abiding firearms owners.

Finally, the stats Mr. Ling relies on seem to have come from the anti-gun crowd. This bunch only cares about violence against people if it involves firearms. They could not care less about stabbing, beating, vehicular manslaughter, poisonings, choking, and all the other way people find to hurt each other. Suicide by firearms may have dropped, but suicides in total have remained the same. A person determined to kill himself, herself, or someone else will always find a way.

Great Britain and Australia tried registration to lower gun violence. It didn't work. They tried confiscation. It didn't work. Registration and confiscation only affect the law-abiding. The armed criminal element simply laughed and went about their business. And gun crime stayed the same in Austrailia, and absolutely skyrocketed in Great Britain, which, according to the U.N. is now the most violent country in Europe, including The Balkans. Why not, now that armed British criminals now have a disarmed populace to push around.

Hahaha.. what?

The registry fires back? With what? So far, everything we've seen for the past 15+ years were... BLANKS! Blanks that have cost over $2 billion dollars... and counting! Is continuing spending into a program which was a failure from the get-go such a smart move?

Some people need a serious reality check... less leftist propaganda and more education on the actual subject at hand would be a great help. Because what good can come out of opinions based solely on the propaganda campaigns made by special interest groups (that receive huge amounts of cash from the registry, either directly or indirectly) and the entity actually in charge of the registry itself (the RCMP)?

Wake up and smell the coffee already!

Long Gun Registry Fires Back

Despite the pleas from CACP, unions, feminist groups, and assorted other fellow travellers, there has yet to be shown or demonstrated a case where the the Long Gun Registry has prevented violence from occurring. None, nada, zilch.

So one has to question the blind faith that these various groups have to a system of dubious  public safety or crime fighting merit. It is afterall, a database of legally owned guns by licensed law abiding citizens. So if the purpose of the LGR is to track the property of law abiding citizens, then all I can say is "Mission Accomplished" a job well done. If it is to fight criminals, then we just blew $2billion.

But the fact of the matter is that aside from the inevitable job loss in a depressed area, the system takes valuable tax resources away from policing, women's shelters, the construction of a  registry of sex offenders,and those criminals under weapons prohibition orders etc. It also reduces funding for suicide prevention centers and hotlines and other mental health facilities.

We need real and effective solutions to fight crime. Not political hysteria and the creation of a database that fails to deliver on any of the promises of public safety. The effectiveness of the LGR would be the same as if we placed the names of all Canadians in a database, and like J. Edgar Hoover, kept files on them all in the hopes that one day we might be able to use it to solve  a crime.

It is a nice to have in certain types of societies, but likely a nice to have that many Canadians would reject.

Correction

Mr. Ling should do some research.

The firearms act was passed in 1995.  The long gun registry didn't come into force until 2003.

The long gun registry has never worked.  It can't work. 

 

Someone is missing the obvious...

1st. The gun registry didn't come into force until 2003... NOT 1995

2nd. The number of some 'gun' offence might be down... but there are still as many Canadians being murdered/assaulted/raped... It's hardly something to be proud of!

My stats come from Statistics

My stats come from Statistics Canada. This is their toll-free number, take it up with them;

1-800-263-1136

And, according to the Justice department,

"The management of the Program, including overall responsibility for its implementation, rests with the Department of Justice Canada's Canadian Firearms Centre, which was established in 1996 ... By September 2002, over 90% of firearms owners had complied with licensing requirements ... As a result, by September 2002, over two-thirds of all licence holders had participated in firearm registration – well ahead of the January 1, 2003 deadline."

Their number is;

(613) 954-0811

 

Thanks for your talking points,

Justin Ling.

It's not about the guns

This is much more about using the registry as a wedge issue to divide the opposition than it is about the merits of the registry. If Harper's so determined to get rid of it, why not put it through as a government bill, instead of using the private-member route? 

Registering guns is free. Completely free. Get over it.

Dad of a journalist: on what basis do you state that gun-control activists don't care about other violence? Do you seriously think this?

C Broad Arrow: How exactly does one prove definitively that something that didn't happen, would have?

Long Gun Registry

One aspect has not been mentioned here.

Why are all the police chiefs pushing gun registries and confiscations?

Initially for their own safety - so they would have us believe.

They still barge into homes without proper warrants, with squat teams

to ruffle and threaten many innocent persons.

It all comes down to adding to their work opportunities, they like

to keep their wages up and create an endlessly number of growing reasons for

their existence. As their piece of the taxation pie grows ever more

burdensome. I would rather see a lot more of the money used

for policing transferred to better education and health.

The more power they have in more areas of our lives will

only end up creating creating the full "police state."

Spending billions of dollars where millions would have done the

same job is typical. Will anyone ever get to see where all that

money went?

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