Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The Access to Information printout is a very interesting document.
Garry Breitkreuz, Member of Parliament, asked for:
Copies of reports showing from December 1, 1998, to present:
- The total number of individuals that have registered firearms;
- the total number of individuals that still have to register their firearms;
- the total number of individuals that have re-registered firearms;
- the total number of individuals that still have to re-register or dispose of their firearms;
- the total number f firearms registered including a breakdown of non-restricted, restricted and prohibited;
- the total number of firearms that still have to be registered;
- the total number of firearms re-registered;
- the total number of firearms still to be re-registered;
- the total number of Applications to register and Re-register in processing and backlogged;
- the total number of firearms registered to museums, to public agencies and in dealer inventories; and
total number of firearms brought into Canada by foreign visitors and
the total number of firearms taken out of Canada when the visitors left
All of the above
questions were answered on one side of one sheet of 8-1/2" x 11" paper,
with this statement: "This completes our processing of your request. If
you have questions concerning the above, do not hesitate to contact
Josee Roy at (613)946-1570."The single sheet of paper is actually quite
The "Number of firearm licence holders" is shown as 1,968,163 as of 03 Jan 2004.
The "Number of licence holders with registered guns" is shown as 1,561,329 as of 20 Jul 2004.
The "Number of licence holders still to register" is shown as 406,834.
- 1,56I,329 = 406,834. Their calculation indicates a belief that the
numbers of "firearm licence holders" remained steady at 1,968,163 from
"03 Jan 2004" to "20 Jul 2004" -- which seems unlikely.
"Total number of firearms re-registered" (handguns, mostly) is shown as 523,004.
"Total number of firearms still to be re-registered" is shown as 619,627.
523,004 and 619,627 comes to a total of 1,142,631 -- fairly close to
the oft-repeated estimate of 1,250,000 firearms registered on the old
"green paper" system. However, as of 09 Jan 2001, they were estimating
that only 600,000 of those 1,250,000 would be re-registered. The rest
were non-existent 'ghost guns' and 'gone guns'.
'ghost gun' is created when the registry issues a registration
certificate to a buyer, but does not delete the registration
certificate for the same firearm from the seller's file. The Registry
does this with monotonous regularity, for a number of technical reasons
that the NFA can and will explain to anyone who asks.
is no known way to tell a 'ghost gun' from a real gun by looking at
registration certificates or at Registry data base information.
A registration certificate seems to say that 'this firearm' is owned by 'this person' and is located at "this place.'
'gone gun' is created when a firearm owner moves, emigrates, or dies
without telling the Registry that he has done so. If 'this person' is
no longer at 'this place,' the registration certificate no longer
points to the firearm. That firearm could be anywhere -- in Canada, out
of Canada, in existence, or destroyed. The registration certificate has
become essentially meaningless.
1,250,000 firearms were registered, but, according to the Registry's 09
Jan 2001 estimate, 650,000 (52 per cent) of them had become 'ghost
guns' or 'gone guns' by 31 Dec 2002, when all green-paper registration
certificates expired. That meant, according to the estimates, that only
600,000 would be presented for re-registration. In fact, only 523,004
have actually been presented for re-registration since it became
mandatory on 31 Dec 2002.
current information, sent out as a response to an ATI request, is
interesting. The documents indicate that the total number of firearms
to be re-registered is 1,250,000 -- apparently an attempt to indicate
that the green paper registration system was accurate, and was not
riddled with 'ghost guns' and 'gone guns.'
"total number of firearms re-registered" (523,004) and "total number of
firearms still to be re-registered" (619,627) figures indicate that the
"600,000 to be re-registered" figure of 09 Jan 2001 was fairly
accurate, and that the current "619,627 to be re-registered" figure is
very, very wrong. It is apparently merely a last attempt to claim that
the Registry's "1,250,000" figure, spread about for so long as the
"number of registered firearms in Canada," had been seriously in error
The rate at which overdue applications to re-register are coming in indicates that there will not be many more coming.
the accuracy of the Registry's figures and data base contents have
never been checked, annual 'ghost gun' and 'gone gun' errors have been
accumulating since 1934. It is hardly surprising that over half of the
firearms shown to be registered by the green paper system (which came
into use in the late 1950s) did not, in fact, exist.
two errors -- 'ghost guns' and 'gone guns' exist in every firearms
registration system's data base. They accumulate, because there is no
known way to detect them, or to eliminate them from the data base. As a
result, every known system of firearms registration accumulates these
errors, year by year, and the data base becomes more and more
inaccurate every year -- because they are in it.
types of errors cannot be detected by looking at the records in the
data base. A 'ghost gun' record, a 'gone gun' record, and a real gun
record are identical in form, and all appear to be equally accurate.
only known way to check for 'ghost guns' and 'gone guns' is to send
someone to the address shown on the record and ask to see the person
and the firearm. Unfortunately, that is prohibitively expensive, so
Canada has never done it and probably never will.
problem first came to light in 1945. In 1939, new legislation required
the re-registration in every fifth year, beginning in 1940. The 1945
re-registration caused consternation, because 20 per cent of all
registered firearms had disappeared, and were not brought in for
re-registration. The same thing was about to happen again in 1950, but
the government reacted in time. It made registration permanent, and
ended the requirement to re-register at intervals. The problem did not
go away, but it became invisible until the green registration
certificates were forced to expire, by the 1995 legislation, on 31 Dec
2002. Re-registration became necessary, and this time over 50 per cent
of the firearms in the Registry's data base proved to have disappeared.
the disappeared firearms to find out where they went would be
prohibitively expensive, and would occupy far too much of available
police resources. It is unlikely that Canada will pursue this option.
The Canadian government has just come out with another
73 pages of firearms control Regulations with force of law (pages 1878
to 1952, Canada Gazette Part II, 15 Dec 2004). They include changes to
17 Orders in Council.