Recalling how police use the gun registry, and how very, very often -

Recalling how police use the gun registry, and how very, very often


Last spring, just after Prime Minister Stephen Harper revived scrapping the gun registry as a Conservative priority, I tried to find out how useful the registry is to police.

What I found out then seems relevant right now given this evening’s vote in the House to get rid of the federal system for keeping track of who owns rifles and shotguns.

The RCMP, who were made responsible for the Canadian Firearms Program back in 2006, told me that police across Canada used their computer systems, often terminals right in their patrol cars, to pull information from the Canadian Firearms Registry over 9,400 times a day last year.

If you’re interested in more details, I talked to officers and broke down the statistics for this posting. By the way, more details on the functioning of the registry provided by the RCMP in an unreleased report are being held back by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, according to this news story.

When I reported last spring on the staggering 3,438,729 times police officers used the registry last year, many critics of the registry told me those numbers are meaningless. Among other things, they said criminals don’t register their guns, so the police are wasting their time when they check the system.

But police officers I spoke with said they occasionally learn that a gun might be in the home where they are responding to a domestic dispute, or at an address where there’s just been a robbery. It’s really not hard to imagine why they’d like to know what only the registry can tell them.

So let’s assume that the registry is of at least some use to police. The question, then, is whether it’s of enough use to warrant the cost of the registry to taxpayers and the inconvenience it represents to gun owners.

On those two points, I’d make these observations. A friend who just registered his deer-hunting rifle, and who doesn’t like the registry, admits registering was no real problem. And the Auditor-General figures getting rid of the long-gun registry will save about $3 million a year.

In other words, I’m told the inconvenience is minimal and the ongoing cost marginal. If that’s true, why deny police the registry even if it’s not all that potent a crime-fighting tool?


Recalling how police use the gun registry, and how very, very often

  1. If the long gun registry was supposed to cost $3 million a year, that cost is $3 million a year more than the Liberals promised it would.

    I don't understand where that figure comes from, given the fact that the Mirimichi facility where the gun registry is housed, has a staff of 290 employees. Assuming the cost to employ, insure, and provide benefits for these employees is $40,000 a year (not an unreasonable estimate, I think, for data entry, IT specialists, and administrative assistants), that cost alone is about $11.5 million dollars.

    • Let's see, a $3 million (or even $11.5 million) tool that police use thousands of times per day, or $100 million in totally useless 'action plan' ads? Which one is a better use of taxpayer dollars?

    • The CPC – soft on crime. Who would've guessed.

    • $40,000 a year is way low. You should add the overhead costs, for office space, utilities and communications among other things. In private industry a rule of thumb is to double gross wage costs.

    • It does not cost 3 million a year. It's 3 million a year on top of the fees that are paid to register the guns.

      • But it's absolutely free to the criminals, who don't register.

        • It's quite easy for a 'normal' person to become a criminal, you know.

          • Is that so? I've been on the earth for a few decades, and so far it hasn't happened. Same with my family. Same with my friends. In fact, I'd say the opposite – it's very, very easy to not become a criminal. Very easy.

  2. "But police officers I spoke with said they occasionally learn that a gun might be in the home where they are responding to a domestic dispute, or at an address where there's just been a robbery."

    This interests me. What happens when police go through registry and see that no gun is registered for a specific domicile. Do they relax a bit or do they keep up their guard when they go out on a call? I would like to know if registry provides false confidence.

    If it's not potent, Geddes, why have the program at all. Not all of us are keen to have police be even more intrusive than they already are.

    • I doubt that they would relax all that much, knowing there could also be unregistered guns around.

      • Bingo. The imposition of this silliness had better not help a police officer relax one bit.

    • This is a point I've been harping on. Since the gun registry is incomplete and is therefore inaccurate (not all gun owners have registered yet), what use is partial information?

      There's another way to confirm that legally owned guns are in a home, check to see if the residents have gun licenses. For decades now, people have been registered as gun owners, just not what they owned, though that could be inferred from the type of license (long-gun, registered hand-gun owner etc.).

      This appears to be duplication of effort without and real results.

      • Can police get information on gun licenses from the computer in their cars? If they can, I completely agree with you. If not, is the process of digitizing the licenses about the same in terms of cost as the gun registry?

      • Because, as everyone knows, those armed persons most likely to be in "contact" with police officers have obviously registered as gun owners…

    • but they can learn that from the licensing system still in effect.. more Liberal & NDP lies…

    • The suggestion that the police are dependent on the registry is completely false. While knowing if there is a gun in the house is handy, the reality is that police have to treat EVERY call as if there is a gun present. Why? Because criminals don't register their weapons. It's this kind of thing that will get officers killed because they get complacent.

      If police are so worried about owners, then let them look at the registry of people who have firearm PERMITS for ownership, and not permits for individual guns. It would stand to reason that a person doesn't get a license to own a firearm and then not put it to use. So query that database instead of the list of long-gun weapons they may or may not own.

    • Training that police receive just assumes there are various weapons in the house – from long guns (rifles) to clubs, to knives. Any police officer who doesn't make that assumption is usually dead. Harsh, but true.

  3. So let's assume that the registry is of at least some use to police.

    Based on that logic, police should have the right to be aware of any potential weapon or otherwise dangerous object owned by every person in the country. Why stop at long guns? I've never tried it myself, but I'm pretty sure it's possible to commit an assault or murder with chattels other than firearms.

    • God that nonsensical argument makes me nuts. Because the sole purpose of a gun, be it a handgun or a long one is to kill. It has no other purpose. That alone supercedes any privacy concerns for those who own them. You can own one but it must be registered.

      • The purpose of most long guns where I come from is to protect oneself from bears and other wild animals. Sure an animal might be killed, but that's better than a person being mauled to death. And anyway, bear meat tastes pretty good.

        • TwoYen, you can semantic this one all you want. Guns have but one purpose and one purpose only: Killing. Don't sugarcoat it. You know this is true. If you are perfectly comfortable living in a society where anyone can now purchase those things without registering, you need to embrace this fact and be proud of it.

          • Untrue. Guns have another purpose: maiming.

          • So is that the real issue…killing things, not about public safety? The city vs country philosophy…
            City folk find hunting and fishing iky….?

          • Ahem. Criminals purchase "those things" without registering all the time.

          • God that nonsensical argument makes me nuts. For 40 or more years people have had to apply to get a permit to buy a gun, have their police records checked, etc. and have to have that renewed every 5 years. The registry is for each gun you dolt, not the owner.

        • Adn no one ever uses a hunting rifle to kill his wife or have a stand off with the police? Are you pretending no crime happens in rural areas?

      • That you believe that, is why you don't understand how this vote happened.

        • avr, what belief would that be, exactly? That a gun's sole purpose is to kill?

          • Yup. You're wrong, and come off as a paranoiac nanny-statist afraid that your fellow citizens are only a hair's-breadth away from casually gunning you down in the street. If you're okay with the political implications of that, by all means, keep railing about it, though.

          • avr, please explain to us what other purpose besides snuffing a life that can be applied to guns?

          • Making you freak out and wail embarrassingly about how much the whole democratic process sucks because it arrived at an outcome you dislike, apparently.

          • Couldn't think of one, eh?

          • I rest my case avr.

          • Wow, that's a rather pathetic, one-dimensional, simplistic and naive argument. Where's the part where you argue that registering guns actually achieves anything? Where's the part where you argue that harassing millions of law-abiding people and taking their money has a measurable benefit?

            Guns are bad! Let's throw all gun owners in jail, while we're at it.

          • Sport Target shooting. Something I've engaged in myself. It is a difficult skill to master, so much so that there are 17 Olympic events centred around it.

          • Filling freezer with meat.

            Infact, Elk season opened Sunday, hubby cut and wrapped this am.

          • "afraid that your fellow citizens are only a hair's-breadth away from casually deciding to gun you down in the street"

            The way some of you behave doesn't exactly disabuse me of that concern. Some of you are perfectly OK with children languishing in foreign prisons without access to law. That's pretty barbaric.

          • Above question about conservatives realizing how dumb they sound ANSWERED!

      • hear hear. I often wonder if those parroting that foolish mantra realize how dumb it sounds.

      • "God that nonsensical argument makes me nuts."

        It sure does.

        • Nuts? Well, that explains the expectation that armed criminals are actually registering their weapons.

          • It sure doesn't

      • That's funny, I own several guns and not one of them has killed anything unless you consider paper targets to be alive. I guess I'm not using them properly.

  4. Shame on the NDP and the Libs for allowing this to happen. We expect the Reformers to push for such a bill but for the NDP and the Lib to stand behind it too is just down right shameful.

    And this is how the Tories get away with it. They won't even carry the blame for it either. All of those who wanted the registry to be maintained will turn their ire on the Libs and the Dippers.

    And then they wonder why people don't bother going to the polls…

    • I agree with your sentiment but I do place a higher value on parliamentary democracy – in this case letting MPs vote their conscience on private members bills – than on the gun registry.

      As a matter of public policy though this was a stupid vote by the House.

      I wonder what Annie Turcotte would have to say about it if she were alive today?

      • Anon, save that "voting your conscience" nonsense for the uninformed. Those MPs voted for this bill out of fear of what the Tory attack ads would do to their chance at re-election.

        • Perhaps the principle they were adhering to is that MPs should represent the views of their constituents.Now sometimes I think MPs need to lead and not follow public opinion in their ridings, but it's a balancing act.

          As I've stated, I support the gun registry. I do acknowledge though that people in rural areas may feel differently about it and their views should be treated with respect by their MPs.

          The real problem with gun control though is that a majority of people support it, but many in a wishy-washy way, while people who oppose it REALLY REALLY oppose it and will base their vote just on this one issue.

      • Waving the bloody shirt is an explicit acknowledgment that your argument has no logical value, and appealing to emotion is the only avenue left.

        • No it means I have emotions you jerk. I'm from Montreal and what happened in 1989 affected me emotionally as it did many other Montrealers and people across Canada. I'd like to think that at least a few good things came out of that tragedy. It gives a little more meaning to the lives of those young women. Tighter gun controls, including the gun registry, were one of those good things. Now it looks like it will be dismantled.

          I guess it'll take another senseless tragedy before we wise up again.

          • "I guess it'll take another senseless tragedy before we wise up again."

            Not for the gun rights advocates

          • Government-by-radical-overreaction-to-tragedy is something I'd prefer to avoid, thanks.

          • Yeah it's really "radical" to require people to take 30 minutes to fill out an online registration and pay a few bucks to register their potentially lethal weapons. A horrible invasion of your privacy, What;s next? Will they bust into your home and read your diary? Yada yada yada..

          • I'd add that it's also pretty insulting to suggest that the only thing that gives a person's life (posthumous) value is the idea that their martyrdom might allow enacting a massive legislative boondoggle of questionable utility, to Send A Message About How Much We Care.

          • It's not the only thing that meaning to their lives but it is something that makes the way they died less senseless.

            Even if the gun registry is only of modest value every time it helps police do their work, every life it does help save, is a testament to the lives of those women and the work of their families and gun control advocates who moved on from the tragedy and tried to do something to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

          • There are lots of things that would "help police do their work." You wouldn't like a lot of them, no matter how many lives they could be claimed to "help save."

          • I don't disagree with you actually but the gun registry certainly isn't one of them.

            The freedom not to do paperwork is not high on my list of most important freedoms.

          • The criminals won't be doing the paperwork.

          • You keep saying this – What % of domestic violence is a first offence? What percent of violent crime is a first offence? If the answer is '0' then I'll agree with you. Since I suspect it isn't, your argument is insufficient (although there are lots of good ones for abandoning the registry).

          • I am certain the percentage is nonzero. So tell me, how does a registered weapon remove itself from domestic violence by the very nature of its registration?

          • I don't understand your question but I'm saying something different.

            You have claimed that criminals do not register their weapons. I am saying many "criminals" don't become criminals until they use a weapon, assault, whatever. I suspect many "registered" weapons are used in crimes. I may be wrong.

            But overall – I do not really see the value of the registry.

          • "I suspect many "registered" weapons are used in crimes."

            I am law/order person so I am sympathetic to police most of the time.

            What makes me suspicious about registry though is that police don't seem to mention how many crimes the registry has solved. The police tell us how many times they use registry but they rarely, if ever, say that it solved 42 (or whatever) crimes last year and that's why we need it. If it was such a vital tool to solving crimes we would know about it.

          • The fact that you can still self-identify as conservative after 9-11 and STILL say something like this should trigger cognitive dissonance sufficient to blow the head right off your shoulders.

            The fact that you breeze right by it without noticing is… well, it seems to be characteristic of conservatives these days.

  5. "In other words, I'm told the inconvenience is minimal and the ongoing cost marginal. If that's true, why deny police the registry even if it's not all that potent a crime-fighting tool?"

    Logic has nothing to do with this debate, we all know this.

  6. In other words, I'm told the inconvenience is minimal and the ongoing cost marginal. If that's true, why deny police the registry even if it's not all that potent a crime-fighting tool?

    Because it'll make the Conservative base happy and create problems for the NDP and Liberals.

    • Actually Anon, you can count on Duceppe to make hay of this one and the Libs are sure to sink further in the polls in Quebec. Not to mention the fact that most Canadians support the registry.

      I wonder if the NDP and Libs thought this one through. The Cons have nothing to lose either way. The Dippers and the Libs may have avoided problems in those 20-some ridings but what happens in the other ones?

      • sounds 'bout right.

        • Harper obviously prefers Bloc MPs to Liberal ones.

          • You can say that again.

    • You could view it as a small act of kindness to the Liberals/Bloc/NDP who have all had a very bad time of it over the past few months.

      It's not the biggest issue in the world, but at least it's an actual policy issue to focus on… something of substance to think about until the next bout of hysteria can be manufactured.

      • "It's not the biggest issue in the world, but at least it's an actual policy issue to focus on… "

        Tell that to those who lost loved ones at the Polytechnique or were terrorized during the Dawson shooting.

        • Bloody shirt. No merit. Next?

        • "Tell that to those who lost loved ones at the Polytechnique or were terrorized during the Dawson shooting"

          I was going to suggest that you explain to them how a wasteful, intrusive and pointless makework project is supposed to comfort them. But then I decided to just leave them out of the discussion altogether, it's just the respectful thing to do IMO. There were already more than adequate controls on the possession of firearms in this country when it was decided to pour two billion dollars down a sinkhole as some kind of gesture of concern. Well, your concerns are all well and good but you might just as well have put the money into interpretive dance for all the good it did anyone. So let's grow up, admit to the fulility of the damn thing and get on with something a little more… substantive.

          • Yeah, you know if you don't mind, I think I'll listen to the police chiefs instead of you in deciding whether it's "wasteful, intrusive and pointless"


          • Why would I mind? When given the choice, the police will always choose their access and their authority over the rights of the public. That's just the nature of the police. It's not a criticism, police are necessarily authoritarian by nature. That's why we don't let the police dictate public policy, in the normal course of events.

          • Facists! First they'll register our guns. Then they'll euthanize all the non-blondes!

          • I love the hysteria! It's sooo compelling as entertainment.

            As a logical argument? Not so much.

  7. I sense that the next Liberal caucus meeting will be an interesting one.

    • My sense is that EVERY Liberal caucus meeting has been interesting (you know that curse about interesting times) for a while now…

  8. I share the privacy concerns mentioned by some of the posters above, but from what I've heard about the story (correct me if I'm wrong) the government is proposing scrapping the registry because it's a waste of money, not because it violates citizens' privacy.

    I can't help thinking (being the cynic that I am) that this is just a move to score political points based on lingering public resentment of the registry's initial (enormous) cost overruns, not because it is sensible from a policy point of view (see also : cutting the GST). What I do find most shocking is that the party that spends the most time portraying itself as being tough on crime is willing to deliberately handicap the police in order to do this.

    Yes, the program was horribly over budget. But the money's been spent, we're not getting it back no matter what the government does, and the registry seems to be working. It may make sense (in a sleazy sort of way) for the Tories to do this, but I can't see what possible reason the other parties would have to go along it.

    • "It may make sense (in a sleazy sort of way) for the Tories to do this, but I can't see what possible reason the other parties would have to go along it."

      A failure of leadership all around. What's more is that the immediate effect of this bill will be an upswing in support for the Bloc in Quebec. If I'm Duceppe, I start working on attack ads on that very issue right away.

  9. Does anyone know how many Canadians didn't register their long rifles? Of course not. This in itself is enough to question the validity of the program. It's a lot like betting the farm before you've seen all the cards. There's no way that this can be viewed as the 'glass half empty' adage. Without complete compliance, it's as good as empty.

    • the AG had a scathing report on the inaccuracies in the gun registry. Numbers were wrong, names were wrong, it was a real mess and she advised police do not rely on the info.

  10. If you just asked the police the would probably say that an ability to search any person place or thing as quickly as possible without the annoyance and delay of getting a warrent would help them in their jobs. That doesn't make it right. Any cop who did a search and found no gun registered and proceeded to behave accordingly would have to be a fool.

  11. Introducing the long gun registry was a way for the Liberals to seem like they were improving public safety without actually getting tough on criminals. Instead they created a database of law abiding citizens who will be the first to be visited by soldiers & police if we ever have another October Crisis.

    • Are you planning another October Crisis Ian?

    • Wolverines!!!!

  12. My car is registered. My kids are registered. My dog and cats are registered.

    Please educate me: why is this so hated after all these years? Is it just a symbol at this point?

    If police services use it across the country on a daily basis — why is this such a bad thing any more?

    • Shhh…. stop making sense, the conservatives are on a self-righteous bender here and you're going to ruin it with all that common sense.

    • You actually think we should register everything under the sun? The fact that dogs and cats are registered is completely ridiculous. Why don't you put on an ankle bracelet while you're at it?

      • what the hell does the gun registry have to do with an increase in gun-related crimes? It is not supposed to be a friggin' deterrent.

        It is about the ability to track the use of guns to the best of our ability, particularly when they are used in crime.

        It is no different than car registration. A car can potentially kill, but the vast majority of people are responsible drivers. When a crime does occur, then that registration information can be used to track down either the perpetrator, or the route by which that vehicle was acquired for criminal activity.

        Why don't you whine about car registration? Damn evil government bureaucracy….

        • "Why don't you whine about car registration?"

          Do you think society would fall apart if the government did not know what vehicle we own? If you have not broken the law, the government has no reason to know anything about you.

        • Car registration is a damn bureaucracy. For one thing, they choose your birthday as your annual registration date. If you register your car the week before, they'll actually charge you for an entire year. Why? Because they can. They're the government, and they want your money.

          It's just like the gun registry – I can see the point of a driver's license, but when it comes to registering cars, I cannot see any other reason than the fact that government wants to suck the money out of your pocket.

          As for your reasons for the registry, frankly they make no sense to me. Why on earth do we need to track the use of guns? You cannot track the perpetrator – for one thing nobody uses a rifle in a gun crime. Secondly, a criminal would never use a gun that could be traced to himself.

      • I was under the impression that you were in favour of imprisoning people, one way or another, for no apparent reason. avr, too.

      • Gun homicides are up 24% since 2002, despite the existence of the registry. Obviously it's useless.

        Where did you get that statistic? Is it a real one or the type used by 85% of the population to convince 17% of blog readers that 43% of statistics are made up?

        I have not seen any specific gun homicide stats so I'll have to take your word on this, but I do have some questions: are these lumping all gun homicides together as one? Is there a comparison of handgun vs. long-barrel vs. automatic weapon homicides? How does the trend of gun homicides compare to the rate of non-gun homicides over the same period? What was the trend prior to 2002?

        Or to put this another way- are you making your assessment of the trends based on a legitimate understanding of all the information, or are you confusing correlation and causation? Taking one statistic and extrapolating from that is a dangerous way to form opinions. For example, <a href=" target=”_blank”> tiger attacks in Canada have skyrocketed since the GST was lowered to 5%. Obviously this cut is a menace to public safety… I demand an inquisition!

        • "Of the 611 homicide deaths in 2008, 200 were committed with a firearm, 12 more than in 2007. That represents a 24 per cent increase since 2002." Canwest, Oct 28, '09

        • are these lumping all gun homicides together as one? Is there a comparison of handgun vs. long-barrel vs. automatic weapon homicides? How does the trend of gun homicides compare to the rate of non-gun homicides over the same period? What was the trend prior to 2002?

          Why don't you make yourself useful and post the answers to these questions?

          • Well, see, I don't have the answers. If I did, I would have provided them instead of questions. But not having them, I asked. It's an annoying habit I have of seeking clarification.

            But I have looked up the article in question (thanks jolyjon!), I can actually provide answers: yes, no, not mentioned, unknown, unknown. Which is really my point- the stat itself is far too specific to provide any useful analysis, let alone reach any great conclusion.

            But I dug a bit deeper, and got a few points that would invalidate the conclusion. The stat in the article mentions the increase of gun related crimes since 2002, but this increase is in gang-related homicides, which (while a serious problem itself) has nothing to do with the long gun registry. Further digging shows that gun homicides that are not gang related have been pretty much stable since the mid 90's. I can't really find any information that would support or deny the usefulness of the registry with regards to stopping crime, but the RCMP report does seem to imply that it is a useful tool to the police. Whether it's worth the cost, I really don't know.

          • but the RCMP report does seem to imply that it is a useful tool to the police

            I'm skeptical. For one thing, any search for any information in their computer systems automatically triggers a search of the registry, so search statistics are extremely misleading. Secondly, I cannot possible imagine that police officers change their behaviour based on information in the registry, which is not complete and which tells you nothing about where a gun happens to go after it is registered, and tells you nothing about unregistered guns.

            I find that police will tell you anything you give them is useful. They'd have us all under house arrest if they could, it would make their jobs easier. The police will say they like to scour this information about us, but in reality does it actually help them to investigate, to make arrests, to make us safer? I seriously doubt it. They have so few anecdotes about the registry leading to anything positive, they reuse the same ones over and over again.

          • Well, keep in mind we are both basing our opinion on news reports of what the report is said to contain. As to the accuracy of the report, I'd really have to give more weight to the conclusions made by the people involved as opposed to my own notions of a job I know very little about.

            That said, anecdotal evidence I have had (basically talking to a few off-duty cops a few times… far from scientific, but it's all I got!) says that even the incomplete knowledge the registry gives is better than nothing, and knowing ahead of time that a rifle was on the premises HAS changed how some officers approached a seemingly routine situation such as a domestic dispute that quickly got out of hand. But that's anecdotal evidence which is about as useful as cherry-picked statistics when trying to reach a well formed opinion.

            I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's difficult for us in the general public to form a solid opinion on this topic, given we just don't have solid information. Everything that I have seen or heard on this is a slanted and filtered sliver of the bigger picture. I can see both sides of the debate, and I think the report that PVL is going to table today would have been useful to MPs voting on the bill, but that ship has sailed.

            I find that police will tell you anything you give them is useful. They'd have us all under house arrest if they could, it would make their jobs easier.

            I'm just glad I don't live in the police state you seem to live in…

          • I don't need to be a policeman to have an opinion about a gun registry, just like I don't need to be a politician to have an opinion about the government.

            I'm glad that I don't live in the literalist metaphor-free world that you live in. It's widely known that powers of search and seizure and other police powers are limited for a reason.

          • I didn't say you can't have an opinion, I said it is difficult to form a solid opinion. That would be an informed opinion based on facts, not gut feelings about things you don't fully understand.

            You don't have to be Einstein to know that not all homicides happen in Toronto. A lot of times, smaller cities end up having some drunken domestic dispute suddenly go awry. If I were a cop, I would like some indication before entering a situation that there may be a weapon on the premises. Does the registry do this? Again, the report would seem to indicate that it does. Is it worth the cost per year? I don't know. But I am willing to try and learn more before blindly opposing something just because it was a Liberal policy. But that's just me… again I have that annoying habit of trying to learn things before making a judgment.

            And by the way, I am well aware of why search and seizure and other police powers are limited. I am also well aware that the police are not some band of fascist thugs that are out to get us all, just barely held at bay. I hear that some are real people who are doing a difficult job, often with little to no help or thanks from an increasingly paranoid public who think they are out to get them.

            Then again, I try to live a life that is not ruled by broad sweeping generalizations that have little to no basis in reality. It's quite nice really… it means that I don't live in a constant state of fear and anger. It even allows for a sense of humour, and sometimes lets me recognize sarcasm. Maybe some day you can give it a try when the roving bands of angry police stop hunting you.

          • It's not a sweeping generalization to say that the sky is blue. Your nuance is misplaced. If you were talking about handguns in urban areas, then perhaps you'd have a point. But you are talking about a cross-country long gun registry. And that is a not a sweeping generalization, it is a cross-country long-gun registry.

            And you don't have to be paranoid to know that you should not accept the police's opinion as truth, and in fact, what you are complaining as the police's opinion is not, I've heard that large numbers of rank-and-file policemen oppose the registry. You are talking about statements made by a few police chiefs and a few organizations.

    • Is the punishment for not registering your car, kids and dog,
      6 months in jail?
      That's the difference. Law abiding citizens ASSUMED to be criminals if they don't fill out an online report.

      Funny how Libs will race to the defence of an alleged terrorist,
      but have no quams about throwing farmers in jail for selling their own grain or hunting without registering on line first.

      • Name me one law-abiding person that's been thrown in jail for not registering their hunting gun. One.

        Besides which it's incredibly easy to avoid: just register your dumba** gun.

        • I've got a better idea – let's abolish the useless registry, solving the problem for everyone at once.

    • Are your dog and cat registered with the Federal government?

      My cats aren't registered, and I am not required to register them with the Federal government, nor with any other jurisdiction. I suppose if the Liberals were in power they might consider it though.

      I know a man who has about 10 old cars parked on his farm. Only two of his vehicles are registered with the Provincial government. Those are the ones that he uses on public roads. If the Federal government told him to register all of his vehicles he would be rightly miffed.

      Your analogy breaks down. Try again.

  13. Proportionate response ≠ radical overreaction. But, nice try. It must have been such a rush to think you'd caught me in a cunning contradiction! Sorry about that.

    • Really, invading Iraq was proportionate? Crushing America's vaunted civil rights, including habeas corpus, was proportionate?

      Only in your world, avr. Only in your world.

      • Only in your world.

        Nope :)

        • You, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. TJ stands corrected.

  14. Surely the privacy argument applies far more to licensing than registration. Once the eeeeevil feds know you are doing the learning and paperwork to legally own a gun, the number and type of guns you actually own is just another small detail?

  15. Wow, what a comeback. As usual, you exemplify conservative "intellect"

    • It takes so little effort to get you worked up, why bother with "A" material?

      • Heh – you've mistaken my mockery for me being "worked up". That's adorable.

        Also – you sound like a bratty kid sister. As if a kid sister ever had "A" material – she's just in it for the attention. As are you.

  16. Why not get rid of CPIC – based upon Mr. Harper’s logic!
    It contains millions of pieces of information about innocent civilians – witnesses – complainants and victims – that pops up every time some employer asks for a “Police check”. They aren’t criminals either.
    Heck – even in the US – gun heaven – they have to register weapons!

    Harper the Hypocrite – can’t be plainer than that!

    • I'd rather get rid of the CPC

  17. The real tragedy is that the 2 billion dollars + 3 – 11.5 million dollars a year wasn't/isn't being spent on intervention programs for troubled youth and domestic violence. Those actually do work to reduce gang related crime, and thus firearm deaths.

    Instead we spent all the money on chasing after .22's people use to shoot rabid skunks with.

    • The key figure there is the 2 billion (I've heard only 1 billion, but whatever). Even 11.5 million a year is, well, chump change and almost certainly worth the costs for police officers.

      But here's the thing – we already paid the 2 billion (or whatever). Throwing away the registry doesn't get that back. A lot has been made about the wastefulness of the gun registry, but that waste has already occurred. That's no reason to waste even more by denying our police services what little benefit can be derived from the gun registry. Unless I'm mistaken, something is still better than nothing, even if we overpaid for that something.

      • Throwing away the registry doesn't get that back.

        Keeping that registry will not convince criminals to register their weapons.

        • As Geddes pointed out, the registry seems to have other important uses. No one forces the police to use the registry, yet they do, what, 9400 times a day? I dunno about you, but when I'm at work – whatever that is – if doing something doesn't help me do my job at all, I stop doing it.

          The police use it. The police want it. It costs little to keep and evidently has some worth for those using it, so the argument, which seems to be the main dialogue here, that it's costly and worthless, is flat-out false – it may have been costly to get, but we already have it, and it's not expensive to keep.

          I suspect that the main objection is more ideological, that the gun registry is a violation of privacy. That's a valid debate to have – but our legislators don't seem to be having that. This legislation would basically throw $1 billion or more down the drain – shouldn't we debate the actual issues with the registry before doing so?

          • " No one forces the police to use the registry, yet they do, what, 9400 times a day?" Actually programmers do. When a cop queries a license plate, his computer automatically queries the registry. Ditto for other systems. It would be great fun to see how many queries are initiated directly to the registry and not as an automatic by product of something unrelated. Great FOI request, methinks.

    • Did you get the $11 million from the essentially made up figures in the first post? Because that's how stupid rumours start (ooooh, I think it was much more based on something I made up which was not addressed in the three paragraphs I just read).

      • Fair point. But it wasn't that long ago (2002) that it was a boondoggle because it was 1 billion dollars spent, and now we are up at 2 billion. Wikipedia says that the annual costs are estimated between 15 and 80 million for what that's worth. The original cost of the entire registry was supposed to cost 2 million dollars, with a negligible annual cost of tens of thousands, which sounds about right for a database of that size.

        So what went wrong?

    • The reason cops use this so much is that, unlike on TV, a big part of their job is answering calls relating to domestic disputes. Couples are yelling at each other, someone is drunk and and perhaps in a jealous rage, and has just lost his job and is feeling like a loser, and if there's a gun in the house this is a far more likely cause of a horrible crime than something we might see on American TV. This is why cops use the thing so often.

      Funny how the Tories pander to the cops as a constituency in all areas but this one. Sorry, guys and gals, but you are hopelessly outnumbered by the rural rubes who voted Reform and need some reassurance that their MP hasn't completely sold out his principles, as well as taken a vow of silence, in return for that amazing salary and pension.

      • Cops "use" it so much because every time they enter a licence plate number in their computer for something like a speeding ticket, it generates a hit on the registry. Every time someone buys a gun, the registry gets 3 hits. The numbers are artificially inflated to make it looks like it actually gets used.

        Anyway, since all legal gun owners have a federal firearms licence – information police officers have always and will continue to have access to – is enough to make a police officer take extra caution in such a situation. The firearm registry, which was and never could be as accurate as the licencing information, is not nearly as useful. For example, I have a firearms licence, and I own several firearms that are registered to me, however I have lent one of these firearms to my friend who also has a firearms licence but doesn't personally own any guns. Do you think that if the cops responded to a domestic dispute at his home they would be any less careful because the registry shows he doesn't have any firearms, but he does have a licence? I don't think so. Regardless it is not people like myself or my friend who are a threat to the police or anyone in the first place…

  18. So let's assume that the registry is of at least some use to police

    Why? It's not. So why would we assume that? Do they change their behaviour based on the information in the registry? Of course not.

  19. I can't imagine, since gun owners are license, what on earth is the purpose of a gun registry? Does it tell you anything about where the guns are? No. Do criminals use it? No, guns are easy to get, and even if they weren't, criminals would find a way to get guns, they're criminals!

  20. Wicked cool.

  21. "In other words, I'm told the inconvenience is minimal and the ongoing cost marginal. If that's true, why deny police the registry even if it's not all that potent a crime-fighting tool?"

    Police entering a house act on the assumption that firearms are inside regardless of what the registry says. Any public expense is to be avoided unless it serves a clear purpose. This one doesn't.

    • Yeah like 100 million on Economic Action Plan! advertisements.

  22. So Wayne Easter thinks farmers should 'not' be thrown in jail for packing an unregisterd rifle (abolish the registry),
    but Easter thinks farmers 'should' be thrown in jail for selling their own grain outside the CWB.

  23. One of the reasons the gun registry is so hated, is because it was rammed down the throats of Canadians despite any obvious benefit, despite widespread opposition in many regions of Canada, and despite the fact that it cost gobs and gobs of money that could have been put towards a million good uses.

    Despite all this, the Liberals rammed it down the throats of Canadians anyway, Hey, what's a billion dollars between friends? Who gives a damn what farmer Joe thinks? We're not gonna allow those deer hunters to fire their rifles on Bloor Street, we'll show them!

    • Yeah those democratically-elected Liberals with support from a majority of Canadians rammed it down the throats of Canadians!

      Was is it with you Cons and all the ramming down the throat? The National Energy Program was "rammed down your throats". Official bilingualism was rammed down your throats". Is this some kind of oral fixation your therapists should be aware of?

  24. Have a look at the number of police shot and killed in the last ten years. Not one was at a place with a "registered" gun. Not one.
    BTW, those 9400 checks of the data base for registered weapons doesn't break out the number of calls to confirm whether a weapon found at a location was registered.
    I don't know of any policeman attending a robbery or domestic dispute who doesn't assume possible violence with a weapon of some kind.

  25. Recalling how police use the gun registry, and how very, very often

    How do armed thugs register, and how often?

    • Most crime is not committed by armed thugs.

      • Oh? Is it committed by unarmed thugs?

        • No, by armed non-thugs.

          • And the registry can prevent that?

          • Well, no, nothing can prevent people losing it and using guns, since there will always be guns in rural areas and there will always be very irrational people. I don't see the registry as some kind of panacea to gun crime, especially since most of that happens in the cities, thanks to gangsters with illegal handguns. But it certainly wouldn't hurt, as far as I can see, when it comes to other potentially dangerous situations.

            I'm just making this up, but say you've got a guy who goes on a two-day drinking binge, starts railing about how he's going to stir some sh*t up before he dies, and disappears. His family calls the RCMP to report him missing. The guy is registered as owning two rifles. There are no rifles in the house. It would then be a near certainty that the guy is out wandering around with a rifle. If he owned unregistered guns and the family reported that, it would also constitute confirmation; but the family might not volunteer the fact, as it would certainly increase the danger their guy was in.

            Just a made-up example, but there are hundreds if not thousands of incidents like this around Canada every year, because there will always be guns and there will always be irrational people. Ten cents a year seems like a pretty small price to pay to help improve the odds in dealing with such situations.

          • And since we'll never know in advance the possibility of unregistered weapons in those hundreds-if-not-thousands of incidents like your scenario, well, it's late, and we both know the circular discussion we're in right about now.

            My best to your brother, and to you. G'night.

  26. I don't see why the gun registry was necessary, but now that it exists and costs next to nothing to upkeep (seriously, $3 million is chump change: about 10 cents a year. By comparison, I'm paying $1 / poppy and I lose 'em) it's just irrational to get rid of it.

    My brother's a police officer and frankly anything that can alert him and his colleagues to the presence of a gun in a house is a good thing in my books. I'm sure they are cautious anyway — for one thing, in certain areas every house has a rifle — but there actually is a difference between uncertainty (= caution) and certain knowledge, if only in that the latter is marginally less nerve-wracking (at least for the police officer's family). It certainly doesn't hurt that police officers be given as much information as possible; believe me, we can trust them not to get cocky if a name doesn't show up on the list of registered gun owners. These guys are professionals and they don't take unnecessary risks. Nor should we ask them too simply because we've watched too many Charlton Heston speeches on YouTube.

    It does not follow that because career criminals are not apt to register their gun that therefore registered guns are innocuous. From what I can gather, most dangerous situations arise not from career criminals making a last stand or lunatics gunning for the police, but rather from alcohol abuse by ordinary people. Sure, most interactions the police have with the public are with the same law-breaking 10% of the population, but there is a difference between those 10% and a genuinely murderous criminal. Yet those 10%, or even the remaining 90% (the generally law-abiding part of the population), also have the potential to misuse guns; and the misuse of guns is potentially lethal for everyone involved.

    Finally, there is no repeat no conspiracy to take away people's long guns.

    • Your brother's search of the registry can never lead to certain knowledge, even if one (two? three?) weapons turn up on the query. What will NEVER turn up on that hit will be any non-registered weapon.

      Furthermore, it does not follow, since (as you say) registered guns are not innocuous, that maintaining the registry renders them any more so.

      • I thank him for that on a regular basis, if not in so many words. It's a very honourable profession. I'll pass along your tip of the hat. Incidentally, my having a brother who's a constable doesn't make me any better informed on this stuff, as my brother is a model of discretion and modesty. What we need in this debate is the honest, albeit perhaps anonymous voices of actual police officers.

        To address your points:

        a) "search of the registry can never lead to certain knowledge"

        Yes, it can. If a search reveals gun ownership, that is fairly certain knowledge that a gun is on the scene, if the incident is taking place at the gun owner's home (as I bet 90% of them do). If a search does not reveal gun ownership, that is not certain knowledge one way or the other. It does not follow that, because some queries turn up nothing useful, those queries that do turn up something useful are useless.

        b) "What will NEVER turn up on that hit will be any non-registered weapon."

        Right. But, as I said above, I think we can trust the police not to get all reckless when they find no gun registered. As they do this kind of thing on a regular basis, they are not keen to play the odds and assume no record equals no gun.

        c) "it does not follow, since (as you say) registered guns are not innocuous, that maintaining the registry renders them any more so."

        You mean it is of no use to police to know that there is definitely a gun in the house they are dealing with? That's like saying it's of no use to snorkelers to know that there is definitely a shark in the shark-friendly environment they are about to explore. I would guess, though of course I hardly know, that it would make their jobs easier to know more about what they're dealing with.

        • (a) No, the certain knowledge is never there, because it can never get better than "AT LEAST such-and-such weapon MAY be on the premises." To prepare specifically for a certain weapon just because that's the one that happens to be blinking on the screen back in the cruiser strikes me as a potentially tragic attitude.

          (b) repeats my point in (a).

          (c) No, you mistake my meaning. Those weapons are deadly whether registered or not. So is the pit bull, that may or may not be registered. So is the bread knife, the crossbow, the axe, the meat cleaver…

  27. I don't get the whole "well we've spent the money, so we might as well keep it" argument. We already know that the operating costs annually for this database (even is use the figures most favorable to the registry) are greater than the total cost of this registry were supposed to be. I myself am not so charitable, and assume that the costs will continue to escalate. If it can lose the vast amount of money in the past seven years that it has, I don't see why it couldn't lose the same amount of money in the next seven. Particularly since we were told seven years ago that the money was largely "already spent".

    If it wasn't for ideology of "we can't give in to the rednecks" perhaps the gun registry would have been killed earlier when the first cost overruns happened (ie. when it started costing more than 10 million dollars rather than the 2 million estimated). Then it could have been reintroduced with different people in charge and different expectations of what could be accomplished. I do not believe that a budget of 2 million could balloon to 2 billion without gross incompetence, horrible mismanagement, and a fair bit of corruption.

    Mostly though, I'm serious about the fact that this money should be spent on intervention programs for youths at risk for gang activity (rural, reserve and urban) and for greater intervention and better management of domestic violence. These are programs that are proven to work, and require a lot more money. If that 2 billion was invested there, there would probably be thousands that would be productive rather than incarcerated and hundreds of people would be alive today.

    Instead we threw the money away on a database that even if it functioned well, would have no discernible effect on gun crime. So we threw away a huge amount of money for the sake of a culture war talking point, and because people were fanatics about it, they've lost opportunity to create a long gun registry for decades to come.

    All of you who are outraged made it easy to kill by insisting that the gun registry should not be questioned and allowed it to gallop away into one of the greatest boondoggles in Canadian history.

    • Intervention programs do apparently work, and may be a better allocation of resources. However, we're dealing with an ideology in this current government that is not interested in programs that reduce crime – they are solely interested in appearing to be 'tough on crime.'
      It's interesting how the conservative posters on this site are so willing to parse the cost-benefit balance of the gun registry, yet nobody – gun-nut or normal person – has proposed a cost-benefit of the Cons 'get tough on crime' charade.
      That's fine – it's not about reducing crime or saving lives or making the cops' job easier. If it doesn't have that get tough look to it then these guys in Ottawa aren't interested.
      The Cons should go ahead, tell the cops that they waster their time 10,000 times a day looking up stuff on the website. Tell them that they don;'t know what they're doing, that it'll all be solved with mandatory minimums and longer sentences. Someday a competent government will be back in Ottawa, leaving the Cons to wail their ideologies in the wind.

      • Yeah, locking people up alone is indeed more expensive than programs like we are talking about.

        As well, if the gun registry is something that is indeed useful, doubters like me would have had a lot less traction if it had cost 50 million dollars (25x the projected initial cost) and had stabilized at a reasonable operating cost for a database. The fact that we kept throwing money at something that didn't work, leads me to believe that liberal ideologies that are wailing in the wind are to blame, rather than carefully thought out and examined civic policy.

        Do you think the registry would still be an issue today, if it had been operating like it was promised 10 years ago? No, it would have been a settled victory for supporters of the gun registry.

        • Well the registry works horribly. My mother inherited a bunch of firearms a couple of years ago. She didn't have a license herself and not all the guns were registered to begin with and had an extremely difficult time simply getting a consistent response from Miramichi to her questions about to properly cross all the t's and dot the i's. We all got the impression of system poorly run.
          But I don't think 'liberal ideologies' are at fault, Rather, liberal ideolgies such as that that conceived the registry recognize the it is but one tool and part of a mutlifacetted approach to reduce crime and create safer communities. No less than the police themselves agree.
          But conservative idealogues and the gun-nut lobby fought this one tool tooth and nail, and, coupled with a poorly implemented and prroly run regustry, here we are now.

          • Even if the "gun nuts" as you call them were completely uncooperative, it should have made little difference to getting the system up and running. Once it was up and running, and running efficiently, people eventually would have wandered in to get their guns registered. Most gun owners wouldn't want the hassle of worrying about whether or not they are in compliance with the law, because they have homes, businesses, and families to worry about. In fact, I'm pretty sure that though the gun registry was wildly unpopular, you did largely see compliance by the public.

            However, the absolute refusal for people to admit that the registration system was perhaps not feasible or cost effective, or needed to be killed and started over, was completely for ideological reasons. Yesterday they reaped the reward for their stubborness.

          • I tend to agree with the faults of the registry, including cost overruns and poor management, etc. I do not agree that it should be scrapped, as it is part of a broader public safety strategy. I also think that gutting it is ideological pandering of the worst kind and (especially from a government that pretends to want to reduce crime), and counterproductive to law enforcement activities.

  28. I'd argue that as a society, we no longer condone having a few drinks and driving home afterward. Unless, of course, you've not been paying attention to any of the medical or social media campaigns out there and still perceive driving drunk as a sport.

    Where I grew up, abusing one's privileges meant you could get them revoked. That includes the privilege of driving, the privilege of owning a gun, and the privilege of having a domestic pet. They're not rights, they're privileges, where people have the opportunity to use them well or abuse them. Where they abuse them, charges can, and often should, be laid.

    If we leave the registration of long-guns out of an overall registry, abuse of the privilege of gun ownership is a viable and potentially legal option for those gun owners, regardless of their intent today. Registration is intended to be further incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

    Lots of front-line officers are ambivalent about the registry – it serves to confirm what they already assume in any situation. But it does, from time to time, provide them with useful information. And insofar as that is the case, I believe the cost of keeping the registry on the books is worth it.

    • In re-reading your post, I overlooked at first your comment regarding the registry as a further incentive to "stay on the straight and narrow". I disagree. While I agree that loss of privilege is a deterrent, registration of said firearms does not act as more of a deterrent. I have had a firearms license of one form or another since I was 16. I own(ed) long gun of many types as well as a few handguns over the years. My handguns were registered to me as well as permits to convey them to the gun club to target practice. the registration did nothing to convince me to be "on the straight and narrow", rather it was to potential loss of privilege that kept me on the path of legality. Handguns have been registered since 1935. Did the handgun violence drop in that time, no. Registration does not work. Real penalties for misuse as well as resources to investigate and intercept and prevent abuse is a much better solution.

  29. John, I will say pretty much the same thing I said back in April, those statistics are very revealing about police procedure, not the utility of the firearms registry. How so? You will note that the number of registry accesses is quite similar for Quebedc and New Brunswick (QC 149 K, NB 132 K). Of course Quebec has eight times the population of NB. Either there is overuse of the registry in NB, a pronounced underuse of the registry in QC, or the numbers have nothing to do gun safety and instead reflect the procedures of individual police agencies. My bet is number three. (Of course NB could be inherently more dangerous than other parts of Canada with daily shoot-outs on every corner. I'll check that out the next time I cross the street in Saint John.)

    My feelings about the long-gun registry really haven't changed since 1995. If its such a great crime fighting tool we should keep it, but finance from police department budgets (say charging them each time they make aan access request). If that won't cover the costs, kill it. My gut feeling has always been that the police chiefs of Canada can always find more useful things to do with their budgets, useful in terms of actrually fighting crime.

    • Update: Went to lunch. No one took a shot at me. Thank you gun registry!

  30. I would just like to point out that the $3 million figure that Mr. Geddes has in his article is a complete fabrication.

    This quote is factually incorrect, as referenced in the May 2006 update on the Firearms Registry by the Auditor General. The $3 million figure is not attributed anywhere in any document from the Auditor General's Office

    Please see the report itself:

    The $3 million figure is attributed from a Coalition for Gun Control press release – dated April 1st, 2009 to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Martin

    "The RCMP estimate, that if the registration of rifles and shotguns were discontinued, it would save only $3 million per year. (RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Martin testimony to the Government Operations and Estimates Committee, November, 2006.)" (

    However upon review on the Parliament's Government Operations and Estimate Committee records (minutes and evidence), Mr Martin was not a scheduled speaker for any committee meeting in November 2006
    (Please review

  31. Because it's NOT nuts to expect criminals to register their weapons?

    Or because you also do not expect criminals to register their weapons? And that somehow means it's NOT nuts to track only non-criminal weapons?

  32. Good point. Congratulations. Now stop yer whining and register your guns.

  33. Gun owers will STILL be required to be licenced, and renew those licences every five years. It is therefore STILL possible to find out if a licenced gun owner lives at a given address. That' s just as good as finding out if he has three guns or five guns or ten. The most dangerous ones, of course, will continue to possess guns without licencing.

  34. criminals with guns versus criminals with a gun registry.

    who cares?

  35. So my nervous 90 year old aunt hears a noise in the night and calls 9-1-1 and gives her address to the dispatcher. An automated hit on the Canadian Firearms Registry results. 3.5 million hits in a year suddenly doesn't look like such a big number when we realize how those hits are generated, and "how very, very often".

    Even if the firearms registry is axed, the other provisions of the current firearms legislation will survive, including licensing of individuals to own OR BORROW a firearm. That rightly puts the emphasis where it belongs.

  36. Wendy Cukier, her objective was “To ban all guns” that was what she wanted to do, that was her objective. Can you imagine, the only people with guns are the criminals/police/soldiers…

    ok, if she can elimate “all” guns in the world, great, but their always be a power hungry madman with a stash of weapons wanting to take over.

    She cost us a lot of money,

    She is “very” quiet right now. all her Liberal cronies have been disgraced (allan rock) and are long gone.

    iver since this registry came in to effect, gun crime has gone “up” 28%,

    it is very sad we let a person like that do this much damage.

    anyway, she is done like xmas dinner, her research is very flawed, and all it did was get us further in the hole.

  37. All of my guns are registered and I had no problems doing so. The disturbing part about all of it is that the whole system can be toppled in one generation. If gun owners become annoyed by continuing changes of rules and regulations ( it is already happening ) all they have to do is make sure their spouses and children never get there possession and aquisition licenses. In the event of the gun owner"s death,if those guns can't be found who are they going to go after? Another problem is that alot of unregistered guns are being given or sold because of the hassle of ownership to individuals who collect guns. Point is would you rather have a gun in most homes or hundreds in a few? I'm not kidding I have seen a few personal collections of that size in our area. You tell me what is better especially if someone decides to steal that collection.

  38. I am a gun owner. I have owned a gun for several years. I had to obtain an FAC firearms acquisition certificate, from the police who did a criminal records check, and then put it on file. This would show up beside my name if I was entered into the computer by police, stating that I am a possible firearms owner….I have an FAC…….The only difference now is the firearm registry lets them know what kind of firearm I own….Well guess what, who cares, Do you really think it matters. We are paying how much for the police to know what kind of gun I own, what a joke. The police are going to proceed the same whether i have a 20 guage or a 12 guage, what the heck is the difference..They would have known that I was a gun owner before this whole regestry thing started…………………what a waste……………lol it's expensively funny….not