Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2009 (4061 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The gun registry had no impact on suicide rates either. Canadian suicide rates have declined more slowly after 2001 than before. The national suicide rate was 12.6 per 100,000 in 1991, 13.3 in 1996 and 11.7 in 2000. Since 2001, the suicide rate has declined very little; in 2005, it was down slightly to 11.6.
Parliament may finally be getting courageous enough to ditch the long gun-registry. Candice Hoeppner, MP for Portage-Lisgar, has introduced Bill C-391, which is straightforward -- all it does is drop the requirement that long-guns be registered. Her private member's bill appears to have some support among opposition members. This could mean that this important legislation will be passed, even though we have a minority government in Ottawa.
The present Canadian firearms program focuses exclusively on normal law-abiding people who happen to own firearms, yet it ignores violent criminals. Hunters and farmers aren't the problem, gang bangers are. Registering a firearm doesn't mean it can't be used to cause harm. The current firearms program is a paper exercise that wastes hundreds of millions of dollars each year and doesn't make us any safer.
The gun registry is a bureaucratic nightmare. The RCMP testified that it has too many errors to rely upon it in court. Criminals don't register their guns, hunters do. Police risk their lives if they trust it to identify dangerous people. While some police associations claim the registry works, it should be noted that these organizations are partially funded by groups that advocate greater gun control. Frontline police officers don't trust the registry as an anti-crime tool, and experienced officers refuse to use it.
In Toronto, the police are now confiscating guns from anyone who forgets to renew their firearms licence. How can these individuals become criminals overnight? Because disingenuous government legislation is in place that pretends to make us safer. It can't possibly work, because the long-gun registry is not gun control. Laying a piece of paper beside a gun serves no one. All it does is subject hunters, farmers and sport shooters to endless red tape.
Gun owners apparently do not have privacy rights. The Canadian Firearms Centre has given gun owners' names and addresses to telephone pollsters -- this constitutes one of the worst breaches of privacy in Canadian history. If this list gets into the wrong hands, firearms owners could suddenly be in dire peril at the hands of criminals who now know where they live and which guns they own. The Firearms Centre has potentially furnished the bad guys with a shopping list. Gun owners always feared the registry would be abused, and now we know they were right.
This wrong-headed approach has wasted more than $2 billion dollars since 1995, and continues to cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Since most firearms owners have not registered, the overall cost of the registry would increase exponentially if the police insisted on enforcing compliance.
The money squandered on the registry could be better spent on more probation officers, parole officers, police officers, border security and the technology they need to provide Canadians with real anti-crime protection.
Please write your MP to ask him or her to vote in support of Bill C-391.
Gary Mauser is professor emeritus at the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, faculty of business administration, Simon Fraser University.