Monday, June 28, 1999
Contrary to what the Liberal government and the media have been telling you for the last five years, the police do not support the mandatory registration of between 7 and 20 million legally owned rifles and shotguns. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports the government’s ill-conceived plan but not all Chiefs of Police support it, nor do the majority of police under their command. The Canadian Police Association (CPA) supports the government’s billion-dollar boondoggle but not the majority of police officers whose views they are supposed to represent. For example, 100% of the 19 police chiefs in the Province of Saskatchewan are opposed to registry, 91% of the serving RCMP officers in Saskatchewan are opposed, as are 76% of the members of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers. A number of newspapers have recently reported that pressure from the rank and file members has forced the CPA to reconsider their support for the gun registry at their annual general meeting to be held in August.
Here are the five key reasons why police opposition to the firearms registry is growing:
1. Costs exceed benefits and the costs of the registration scheme are out of control
In 1995, Justice Minister Allan Rock told the House of Commons that the firearms registry would only cost $85 million over five years. An Access to Information Request reveals that at the end of March 1999, the government had spent $216 million dollars and the Department of Justice now admits they will spend between $50 and $60 million a year to operate the system. That’s more than a billion dollars by the year 2015. It was recently discovered that the government had between six and eight hundred paper-pushing bureaucrats working on the gun registration project.
2. Cuts and lack of police resources for real crime fighting initiatives
Here are the headlines of a few news stories published in recent months:
- Underfunding of RCMP imperils public
- Fewer police per capita report says
- RCMP’s white-collar crime unit needs staff, cash
- Systematic underfunding reduces local RCMP to critical level
- ‘Force rusting out,’ says Alberta’s top Mountie
- RCMP cuts make crime pay
- Money for gun control, none for police
- Police association ready to fight for more cops
- RCMP Chief says lack of funds means Mob ‘on a roll’
3. Information in the registry will be riddled with errors
The public was told by the government that the primary purpose of the firearms registry was to let police know which houses have firearms in them. But that only works if the system doesn’t have any errors. A few weeks ago, the RCMP’s Registrar of Firearms told a staff meeting that they were experiencing virtually a 100% error rate. In a "secret" report prepared by the consulting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Dept. of Justice, they estimated a 20% error rate. The Minister of Justice’s handpicked User Group on Firearms estimated a 50% error rate. If you were a police officer, would you rely on a computer system that was riddled with errors to tell you whether the house you were called to had guns in it or not?
4. Millions of guns won’t be registered in the system because of non-compliance
The government claims the gun registry will help police by letting them know who has guns and who doesn’t. In 1997, an Environics survey titled, "Firearms Owners Intended Compliance with Gun Registration and Licencing" revealed that only 58% of firearms owners planned to register all their guns. This represented a significant drop in compliance since 1995, when a more reliable survey reported that 76.7% of gun owners said they would register all their guns. If you were a police officer would you rely on a registration system that is projected to be missing records on millions of firearms?
5. Alienating millions of honest citizens that police rely on to help them do their job
Duck hunters and target shooters never were and never will be part of the violent crime problem in Canada. In 1996, Statistics Canada reported in Canadian Crime Statistics that there were a total of 291,437 crimes of violence. Of this total, there were 121,291 violent incidents where weapons were involved but only 6,375, or just 2.2%, that involved firearms. Of the violent offences where firearms were involved, 74.9% involved handguns [almost all unregistered] and only 6.9% involved rifles and shotguns. Clearly, the 65-year-old handgun registry hasn’t reduced the criminal use of handguns. Still, the government ignores this evidence and plods ahead spending hundreds of millions to register 20 million rifles and shotguns which represent only 0.15% of the violent crime problem in Canada. By targeting honest Canadians instead of real criminals, the government has turned 7 million responsible firearm owners into potential criminal suspects. Consequently, this useless registry has undermined respect for the law and respect for those dedicated officers who are required to enforce it.
The Liberal’s expensive and ineffective gun registry is depriving police of the resources they need to improve public safety and save lives in Canada. It should be scrapped immediately.