ANADA’S GUN CONTROL PROGRAMS
WHAT DO THEY COST AND DO THEY WORK? THE GOVERNMENT ISN’T SAYING!
By Dennis Young
AIRDRIE, AB, Jan 28, 2014/ Troy Media/ – As taxpayers we should all be concerned about how much government programs cost and whether they are working or not. But what are we supposed to do if the government doesn’t tell us (or even tell our Members of Parliament) what a program costs? What if the government pumps out lots of numbers but never provides any real evidence proving that the program is truly effective? Canada’s gun control programs are a case in point.
True, the Conservative government scrapped the long-gun registry in 2012, but it left in place a complex multi-million dollar program that tracks the addresses of no-risk or low-risk gun owners but not the whereabouts of high-risk convicted violent criminals.
What does this program cost taxpayers? Sadly, the federal government hasn’t reported the detailed costs of running the Canadian Firearms Program to Parliament since the 2007/2008 fiscal year, when costs were running at $80 million a year compared to $15 million a year in 1994. Even Access to Information Act requests can’t pry more current information out of RCMP files. Taxpayers and Members of Parliament deserve to know why these detailed spending estimates are now a state secret.
Does the $80 million gun control regime work better than the earlier $15 million version? We don’t know that, either, because parliamentarians are kept in the dark on the program’s performance too.
The RCMP, responsible for the program, produces lots of numbers but, as the Auditor General Sheila Fraser told a Parliamentary committee in 2006, this is evidence of activity – not effectiveness.
Parliament has been waiting seven years for the Conservative government to fully implement Fraser’s 2006 recommendations. In her report, she recommended that:
“The Canada Firearms Centre should improve its reporting on the performance of the Canadian Firearms Program by providing targets and evidence-based results, and by showing through the use of a results chain how these results could contribute to public safety goals.” and further, “The Canada Firearms Centre should present its performance information in its performance reports in a comprehensive and complete manner that allows Parliament to fully understand the performance it has achieved and the challenges it faces.”
While the government thumbs its nose at the Auditor General’s recommendations by eliminating cost and results-based effectiveness reports on the firearms program to Parliament, McMaster University’s Dr. Caillin Langmann produced convincing evidence in his 2012 groundbreaking analysis, Canadian Firearms Legislation and Effects on Homicide 1974 to 2008 to conclude there was no:
“. . . beneficial association between legislation and firearm homicide rates between 1974 and 2008.”
Fifteen million dollars a year in 1994, $80 million a year in 2008 and who knows how much the Canadian Firearms Program is costing taxpayers this year? If it is to continue to support the Liberal firearms program they repeatedly vowed to repeal completely between 1995 and 2006, the government must begin to produce real evidence showing that today’s gun control program is doing a significantly better job at saving lives, reducing violent crime and keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals.
The lack of oversight of the Canadian Firearms Program in Parliament today is appalling. The silence from all our MPs, whose job it is to expose government deficiencies such as this, is deafening.
Dennis R. Young started his career as a member of the RCMP and retired to Airdrie, Alberta after working 13 years on Parliament Hill for the MP for Yorkton-Melville, Saskatchewan.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Report on Plans and Priorities – 2007-2008 (Pages 95-101)