For it before he was against it, Easter edition

by Aaron Wherry

Fun facts. From 1892 to 2005, Canada had a solicitor general. From Oct. 2002 to Dec. 2003, Liberal Wayne Easter, as noted here, held that title. From April 2003 to Dec. 2003, that position put Easter in charge of the federal firearm registry. And on Wednesday night, Easter voted to have long guns removed from that registry.

In July 2003, six gun owners showed up at Easter’s constituency office, reported that they had not registered their weapons and invited him to take action. He declined. “I don’t direct police operations,” he told Canwest at the time, “that’s up to the police to decide. And as I’ve said a number of times, the police know the difference between somebody trying to make a point politically versus concerns for public safety.”

Three months later though, with the release of statistics showing a drop in gun-related deaths, Easter was sought out for comment and seemed generally supportive of the registry’s general purpose. Canadian Press dispatch after the jump. Relevant portion in bold.

Gun-death rate drops to all-time low; anti-gun groups hail regulations
Canadian Press Newswire
Wed Oct 1 2003
Section: National General News
Byline: BY MARTIN O’HANLON

OTTAWA (CP) _ The rate of gun deaths in Canada fell to an all-time low last year, providing fresh ammunition for gun-control advocates and drawing envy from south of the border.

The 26 per cent of homicides committed with a firearm was the lowest proportion since statistics were first collected in 1961, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Stabbing was the most common method of killing, accounting for 31 per cent of homicides. Beatings resulted in 21 per cent of deaths, while strangulation or suffocation came in at 11 per cent.

The overall homicide rate actually increased slightly, but it was pushed up by the 15 deaths of missing women that occurred in previous years in Port Coquitlam, B.C., that were reported by police in 2002.

The lower gun-death rate was hailed by anti-gun groups in Canada and the U.S.

They pointed to years of firearms regulation, but stopped short of crediting the federal gun registry which requires all gun owners to register their weapons.

“The numbers look encouraging,” said Wendy Cukier of the Coalition for Gun Control in Toronto.

“It’s still a bit soon to attribute it to the most recent gun-control law but certainly the trend in Canada of strengthening controls over firearms does appear to be having an effect.”

She said handguns being smuggled into Canada from the U.S. is the biggest problem.

The Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said many Americans will envy the Canadian numbers.

“We lose nearly 30,000 Americans every year,” said spokesman Blaine Rummel. “That is astronomically higher than Canada’s actual gun death rate. The reason why is because Canada has always taken a very responsible approach to regulating firearms ownership.”

Canadian police reported 582 homicides last year, up 29 from the previous year.

The national homicide rate was 1.85 homicides for every 100,000 people, compared with 1.78 in 2001.

Solicitor General Wayne Easter welcomed the numbers, but he also stopped short of crediting the gun registry.

“The more important aspect of the firearms registry at the moment is the greater ability, with more registered guns, it gives the national weapons enforcement-support teams a greater ability to find illegal guns and stolen and missing guns,” he said.

“That’s the success story of the firearms registry system so far.”

Alberta’s justice minister disagreed.

“The gun registry has been an absolute waste of time and resources and has shown no effectiveness,” David Hancock said from a meeting in La Malbaie, Que.

“The reality is … we had very strong gun laws in this country for a very long period of time and the guns involved in most of those incidents were already restricted or prohibited weapons.” Of the 149 gun killings last year, handguns accounted for two-thirds, up from about one-half during the 1990s and one-third prior to 1990.

B.C. saw the biggest jump in homicides, to 126 from 84 in 2001.

With regard to cities, Winnipeg, with 23 homicides, and Saskatoon, with eight, each had a rate of 3.41 per 100,000 residents, the highest among metropolitan areas.

Statistics Canada also found that:

_ For a second consecutive year, gang-related homicides dropped substantially.

_ As usual, most homicides were committed by someone known to the victim.

_ Almost half of the 182 victims killed by a family member were killed by their spouse.

_ Forty-four per cent of female victims and eight per cent of male victims were killed by someone with whom they had a relationship.

_ Men are more likely to be killed by a stranger than women.

_ Almost two-thirds of the 523 people accused of committing homicide in 2002 had a criminal record.

_ Consistent with previous years, men accounted for nine in 10 accused, and about two-thirds of all victims.




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For it before he was against it, Easter edition

  1. Excellent research I had no idea – only in canadian politics from hypocrisy to doorknobs – go figure!

  2. "Of the 149 gun killings last year, handguns accounted for two-thirds, up from about one-half during the 1990s and one-third prior to 1990."

    In other words, guns other than handguns accounted for 2/3 of gun killings before the 1990s, guns other than handguns accounted for 1/2 of gun killings during the 1990s and guns other than handguns accounted for 1/3 killings thereafter.

    Guns other than handguns = "long guns"

    Since the total number of gun killings decreased over that period, the number of gun killings caused by "long guns" decreased quite significantly from the time the registry was implemented.

    But hey, there's no empirical evidence to suggest the long gun registry was of any use. It has "shown no effectiveness".

    In light of the above, what possible statistic could gun control advocates possibly use to make the case for registering long guns?

    • It's more complicated than that. The smuggling of handguns alone from the US has probably increased significantly from that time, as has gang activity (outside of bikers) and related murders.

      • Umm, direct quote, from the above article: "For a second consecutive year, gang-related homicides dropped substantially"
        The whole purpose of bringing empirical data into a discussion is so that we can do away with premises like "probably has increased significantly".
        Furthermore, I don't expect us to agree on ideology, but surely we can accept the basic rules of algebra as a starting premise for any meaningful discussion.
        Total gun killings are down. Long gun killings, as a proportion of those deaths are down substantially. That means, by even Jim Flaherty's math, long gun killings have been reduced significantly in the tiome period since the registry came in.
        I readily concede that that, in and of itself does not prove the effectiveness of the registry. But since the neocons are going to drag statitics into the debate, tell me what possible statistic or quantifiable measurement could the otherisde bring into the discussion, if the one I have mentioned above can be cited by an Alberta justice minister as proof – to the contrary?<i/>

        • "Total gun killings are down."

          This matters because people killed with non-guns are less dead? The total homicide rate hasn't significantly changed (it's been between 2.2 and 1.8 since 1993).

          "Long gun killings, as a proportion of those deaths are down substantially."

          Again, why does this matter. If you start registering long guns, criminals find it is just as easy to get an illegal handgun. The public safety benefits of gun control were realized with user licensing (safety training and backgrounds checks). These registry schemes are just bureaucratic make-work projects so politicians have something to point to and say: "See! We're dealing with gang violence!"

          Unfortunately, dealing with actual criminals is harder than hassling hunters and target shooters.

  3. Time for Iggy to clean house IN THE HOUSE. He could do well to start with Wayne Easter, continue with Keith Martin and a few others – put the fear of God into the rest of the caucus that the party has some core values. Replace the two of them with people who can command a broader respect – because right now – I place Messrs. Easter & Martin in the same bag of cynics that include Carol Hughes on the NDP team.

  4. Easter was a minister. Ministers must observe cabinet solidarity and should refrain from expressing their personal views, especially concerning government policy, in public. For all we know, Easter was against the registry at the time and argued for its reform/abolition in cabinet meetings but lost that battle and accepted the outcome. I am sure examples of hypocrisy by MPs of all parties on this question abound but this is not one of them. Mr. Easter was a backbencher when the bill was first passed in 1995. It would be of greater interest to know what his opinions on the matter were at that time.

  5. Wayne Easter is a woozy.
    When Ralph Goodale had the chance,
    he threw Western Canadian grain farmers in the clink!

    Here is a list of the farmers and their penalties.

    Gary Brandt, 33, of Viking, faced 62 days in jail. He took a bag of wheat across the border, forgot about it and ended up carrying it back into Canada.

    Ron Duffy, 50, from Lacombe, faced 68 days in jail. He took one bag across the border, then a commercial quantity of wheat across the line.

    Jim Chatenay, 59, from Penhold, faced 62 days in jail. He took a bushel of wheat to the U.S. and donated it to a 4-H club.

    continued

  6. Bill Moore, 63, from Red Deer, faced 131 days in jail. He donated a bag of wheat to a 4-H Club, then took a half-ton truck of wheat across the border.

    Jim Ness, 58, from New Brigden, faced 25 days in jail. He drove 100 lbs. of barley across the border and donated it to the 4-H Club.

    Mark Peterson, 42, from Cereal, faced 124 days in jail. He hauled a truckload of wheat across the border.

    Rick Strankman, 49, from Altario, faces 180 days in jail. He took 756 bushels of wheat across the border and sold it for $1.50 per bushel higher than the Canadian price.

    John Turcato, 42, from Taber, faced 131 days in jail. He drove 900 bushels of barley across the border.

    Darren Winczura, 35, from Viking, faced 24 days in jail. He drove a bag of wheat across the border.

    Thankyou Ralph Goodale.

    • How many of them SERVED the days in jail? I'm just curious.

      • With the Conservatives' imposition of mandatory minimums, they'll be making criminals out of hard working farmers. Shame.

    • Well, Liberals have always been tough on crime, eh.

  7. Martin Hall, 42, from Vulcan, faced 131 days in jail. He took a semi-trailer full of wheat across the border and sold it.

    Rod Hanger, 32, from Three Hills, faced 75 days in jail. He took a commercial load of wheat across the border and sold it.

    Noel Hyslip, 42, from Vulcan, faced 131 days in jail. He took a semi-trailer full of wheat across the border and sold it.

    Ike Lanier, 72, from Lethbridge, faced 60 days in jail. He trucked 300 bushels across the border.

    …more jailed farmers:

  8. Wilson, are you suggesting we should register farmers? Perhaps that's going to be part of the CONs next fundraising letter, now that this is (temporarily at least) off the table.

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