The case against the gun registry I’d like to hear


The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police put out a news release that makes the case—as they have many times—for the gun registry as a useful tool in police work.

They offer examples. The registry helps police find out if guns are in homes where they are responding to domestic disputes. It helps them obtain warrants to seize guns from people who pose a threat. It helps police investigate when legally purchased rifles and shotguns are diverted into the black market.

Opponents of the registry often assert that it isn’t helpful in these or any other ways. But I can’t think of any reason, aside from patently paranoid suspicions, for thinking the police chiefs make all this stuff up.

So I wish a thoughtful opponent of the registry would begin a good-faith argument by saying, “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn’t a good enough reason to keep it because…”

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The case against the gun registry I’d like to hear

  1. …because I'm an experienced blog commenter and I know a hell of a lot more about what's good for the police than some stupid cop does.

    • Commenters are also taxpayers. If the police chiefs can't convince us that this registry is worth it then we should spend the money elsewhere….and it's not as though one has to be a cop to be capable of comprehending these issues.

      But while we're suggesting that one has to be a member of a certain profession before one can weigh in on issues pertaining to it, doesn't this preclude Macleans bloggers from publishing opinions on anything other than blogging?

    • How is …because I'm an experienced blog commenter and I know a hell of a lot more about what's good for the police than some stupid cop does.

      any different than:

      …because I'm an experienced journalist and I know a hell of a lot more about what's good for the <profession X> than some stupid <professional in profession x> does.

      Isn't that what columnists do on a regular basis, profess opinions on topics they are not a professional in?

  2. “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…”

    …. it does nothing to solve crimes. Police are quick to tell us how often they look at registry but no mention of how many crimes they have solved because of it. And you can bet that if registry solved more than three crimes or somesuch we would be hearing about. Registry is just another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to keep people employed in Miramichi and keep tabs on people who are not breaking the law.

  3. “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…”

    …putting a camera in everyone's home would also be useful to police. As a democracy we make choices about where to strike the balance between security and liberty. Just being useful to the police (or CSIS, or the Canadian Forces) is not good enough.

    • "When someone tries to blow you up, not because of who you are, but because of different reasons altogether!" DEATH BLOW!

    • Now you've registered that fact…

  4. What's good for the police is not the measure of what is good public policy.

  5. My observation is that frontline officers are pretty ambivalent about it, or a mixed bag just as we commenters, some in favour, some opposed.

    It does give them information, and information that strongly indicates one thing or another is always welcome in a police investigation. But it doesn't change their approach to potentially dangerous offenders; they're trained to always prepare for the worst.

    And, being incomplete doesn't help the Registry's case. It's a nice start but not useful enough to lobby for.

    …Which is why my personal preference is to see some reforms and enforcement put in place, so that it becomes more useful and more complete – and I suspect, given the emphasis the Chiefs of Police are putting on keeping it around, that might be their end goal as well. A strategic move, if you will, to give them time to form something more comprehensive and useful.

  6. Do the reasons have to be practical? Because there's a bunch of people willing to say that when licensing turns into registration it becomes some sort of heinous privacy violation. Which seems unbalanced and abstract, but I suppose it could be, kind, of, a "reason".

  7. It's true. The Harper Conservatives, noted libertarians, have a sterling record of working to foil the police at every opportunity. You could look it up.

  8. Let's suppose a new registry. Since the police often have to deal with people in crisis, let's establish a registry of all those people who have been treated for depression, mental illness or addiction of any kind. Not that we are making any judgements or casting any aspersions, just because it' would be better for the police if they have this information when responding to an incident.

    Ignore the cost, discuss on the basis of good idea or bad idea.

    • Igarvin
      Straw man – you win the door prize…although by rights you should share it with avr.

    • We have such a thing. They're called patient medical records. They aren't readily accessible by or useful to police, but they do exist.

  9. This is true to a point. But there's a privacy issue with cameras in homes that simply isn't present with a requirement to register firearms.

  10. That would require information on a person's confidential medical record, which would constitute a privacy violation.

    • Yet these are exactly the questions that are asked of a person when filling out…wait for it…their gun registry forms!

  11. “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…”

    …. gun owners are still thoroughly vetted. Getting rid of registry does not mean we be able to buy unregistered guns and ammo from corner shop.

  12. The argument I'd like to hear from opponents of the long gun registry is their argument in favour–if they are in favour–of keeping the hand gun registry.

  13. I find this most alarming:

    The RCMP strongly supports keeping the registry alive, and has been working to iron out logistical problems in the database. The 2008 report should indicate how much success they've had, but Van Loan won't make it public.

    "Canadians don't need another report to know that the long-gun registry is very efficient at harassing law-abiding farmers and outdoors enthusiasts, while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars," Van Loan's office said in a release Wednesday.

    "They don't need another report to know that the registry does nothing to prevent crime."


  14. That's a strange response. I'm not the Harper Conservatives, neither am I a noted libertarian, heck I'm not even an experienced blog commentator (perhaps a novice, by now).

    Also, it appears to me that the Conservatives have a record of "tough on crime" rhetoric which is more about punishing bad guys than it is about accomodating police, although it may have that effect as well.

  15. "putting a camera in everyone's home would also be useful to police."

    This made me laugh because I was talking to woman this morning who was telling me that there are cameras in every tv we buy and The State is watching us watch telly and whatever else we get up to in front of the screen. I am suspicious of government but even I have not reached that level of paranoia.

  16. So? Assume that such a Mental Illness Registry would make exemption amendments to all applicable privacy legislation, and if necessary, invoke S. 33 of the Charter to be constitutionally valid. Is it a good idea or a bad idea?

  17. Does a search of the gun registry that reveals a person has a registered firearm call for increased preparations on the part of the police then a search that shows no registered firearms?

    If that is the case, then the registry probably benefits criminals who do not register their firearms as the police will be unprepared for illegally armed criminals.

    If it makes no difference to the preparedness of the police response then what does the registry actually accomplish. Where is the value in the >2 billion dollar investment?

    I honestly can not see what benefit it provides to Canadians.

  18. When did "outdoor enthusiast" become the PC term for hunter?

  19. Does a search of the gun registry that reveals a person has a registered firearm call for increased preparations on the part of the police then a search that shows no registered firearms?

    If that is the case, then the registry probably benefits criminals who do not register their firearms as the police will be unprepared for illegally armed criminals.

    If it makes no difference to the preparedness of the police response then what does the registry actually accomplish. Where is the value in the >2 billion dollar investment?

    I honestly can not see what benefit it provides to Canadians.

  20. Irrelevant. If it's a good and valid policy objective because it's so useful to police, and aiding police efficiency is our foremost concern, then what's the substantive difference?

  21. s.33 cannot be invoked to violate s15 of the Charter, which states:
    "15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

    Looking up someone's medical record because they were pulled over for speeding (for example) would open the door to targeting individuals because of their mental state. So it just starts as a privacy violation, but could quickly become a rights violation.

    Ergo, bad idea.

  22. My sense is that it's a preventative tool, more than a linchpin in convictions.

    When it helps the police get warrants to remove them from potentially dangerous owners, it doesn't count as a crime "solved", yet it still serves a valuable purpose.

    If it gives responding officers a "heads up" that there's a gun in the house, they can at least be at the ready in that respect. Again, no crime may be "solved", but the benefit is obvious.

    If it helps to prevent the uncontrolled circulation of guns (i.e., I can't just turn around and sell my gun to some anonymous soul, because I'm accountable for that gun), no crimes may be "solved", but again some may be prevented.

    In short, I suspect most police officers would tell you that a great deal of their work has to do with maintaining the peace, and that they'd always rather be preventing violence in the first place, rather than "solving" crimes after the fact.

  23. I'd have to say that most gun owners aren't in favour of the restricted-only registry. However that being said, that registry has been in effect since the 1930s and I think most gun owners could live with that.

  24. Crimes are rarely solved on one piece of evidence.

    Being able to trace the "history" of a gun may only be a first step to finding more evidence. But from the police side, that aids in investigation (even being able to rule something out through the registry is a help to police, no?), and from the crown side of things, it's probably a useful tool for case building.

  25. Gunnutism has its degrees of severity.

  26. “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…

    it makes the Con base happy and it creates exploitable divisions within Liberal and NDP ranks – notice how the pro-gun control people seem to be angrier at the minority of Liberal and NDP MPs who voted to scrap the registry or with Ignatieff and Layton for not whipping the vote than they are with Conservatives – all of which make it easier for Harper to get his elusive majority. And really that's what's important isn't it?”

  27. Registration is a privacy issue. At what point do we say that the state's right to know what I own crosses the line? Hand guns but not long guns? Long guns but not hunting bows? Hunting bows but not hunting knives? Hunting knives but not steak knives? Every time the government or police collects more information on us, it is a privacy issue.

  28. what I find alarming is that they've decided for us that we don't need to see the report and form our own opinion…

    glad I have the government looking at the facts, not sharing them, and then deciding for me what I think.

  29. However that being said, that registry has been in effect since the 1930s and I think most gun owners could live with that.

    It's irrelevant if most gun owners can live with it. If the long gun registry is abolished the gun lobby will challenge the hand gun registry in the Supreme Court of Canada on the basis that it discriminates against hand gun owners.

  30. The substantive difference lies in direct monitoring of one's activities in the home, versus the relatively unobtrusive identification of firearms owned by individuals.

    Nobody said aiding police efficiency is the prime measure of policy. Which is why we have hefty protections against things like unreasonable search, siezure and detainment.

    But where a policy can help our general security, with minimal intrusion, it's hard to see the downside.

  31. There are two items that need to be noted here.

    1/ Licensing of firearms the current PAL/POL system has been around for decades (formally known as the FAC) – This has always been a primary check for police across the country and does not change with the passing of C-391

    2/ Registration – the registration system was flawed to begin with, in the early days only 1 in 5 firearms that existed in Canada were in the database, and now at best you may have a 50% compliance rate with registry. This is for legal guns.

    And we all know that criminals don't get gun licenses and register their firearms.

    So even in a domestic violence situation law enforcement can still use the system to find out if a household has firearms by the license. They should NEVER go under the assumption that the number of registered guns are the true number of guns in the household. The Maythorpe case is a prime example of what happens when the RCMP ASSUMES that the homeowner does not have guns, since Rozcko's rifle was not registered nor licensed to have arms.

  32. (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

    But that aside: ignore interaction-of-laws or other constitutional issues. Would such a policy be a good idea on its own merits?

  33. That is indeed a popular fear among the tin-foil hat crowd, I agree. A crowd I haven't joined just yet.

    Nonetheless, it is a measure that was already used by the Canadian police (in the case of Mohamad Harkat). I chose that as an example of the absurd end of the spectrum, but it still sits on the same spectrum.

  34. Wrong, the gun registry in its entirety was challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada (Reference re Firearms Act, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 783, 2000 SCC 31)

    The Court noted that firearms have been subject to federal regulation for years and that the government of Alberta could not reasonably challenge many of the earlier laws.

    So there is no basis for a challenge based on discrimination.

  35. This monitoring can be done with licensing on it's own and it can be said that registration itself is very intrusive.

    What's interesting to note is that gun owners after registration expose themselves to inspection, search and seizure without warrant simply by having guns. This extrajudical power exists within the Firearms Act.

  36. What? You mean criminals actually DO register their firearms with the federal registry? Well, then, this changes everything.

  37. Misread on my part. Nevertheless, I don't see having a register of all people with a mental illness as having any legally-useful purpose. It:

    -Requires going into protected medical records
    -Requires targeting protected persons under the Constitution
    -Assumes all people with a mental illness have a diagnosis

  38. Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…

    …like anything else, it costs money to operate and resources are finite and need to be allocated to their best purpose. I would find a snow blower useful but I can do the job without it and that $1000 can be better spent elsewhere.

    Just to be clear though…the police are not losing any of the search and lookup functions they have for handguns, right? Because I would be against doing away with it if it means they lose that access.

  39. And so the question is, are those real or imagined benefits worth the initial insane startup costs, the continued ongoing costs, and the irritation of a substantial number of law-abiding voters. That is, assuming non-cops are entitled to voice an opinion, what with being mere citizens and all.

  40. ….It cost the government 2 billion dollars to implement and millions of dollars a year to operate a simple database.

    Money that can and could be spent on intervention and provention problem in cases of youth at risk for gang recruitement and intervention and support for victims of domestic violence. Something proven to be effective at reducing gun crime and saving lives, unlike the long gun registry.

    • Ther are no statistics that I have read about relating to the crimes committed by guns let alone long guns in comparison to stabbings, assult with no gun invovement, breakins, theft , ponography, abuse etc. and other sorts of crime. The Long gun registry is a poor excuse to lulling citizens into thinking that the police or government have things under control.
      It was a purley political reaction to the central Canada urban physche. it had nothing to do with real statistics and trends
      in criminal behaviour. It has been a collossal wate of money.

  41. I don't think it's as simple as bad guys and good guys. What do you think about the registry as a tool to help prevent tragedy?

  42. Worst job ever: the person that must watch Canadians as they watch TV. Solution: installation of a secret 'voice of God' speaker in the TVs as well. "Stop picking your nose." "MORE chips?" "Your mom honestly lets you watch this? I'm calling Social Services."

    • "How are you getting original HBO? You got one of them grey-market dishes? Please stand by for the RCMP."

  43. There was no discrimination at the time of that case; all firearms had to be registered. If the long gun registry goes however, it will provide the basis that hand gun owners are being singled out and discriminated against.

  44. Why don't you expand your argument to nix that vetting process? I mean, criminals don't subject themselves to this vetting to buy a gun, why should law-abiding citizens?

  45. Yep, just like illegal drugs make a convenient excuse to harass just about anybody.

  46. Firearms licensing has to do with checking the eligibility of an individual to purchase a long gun. It's about the person.
    Firearms registration helps to keep track of the last known location and ownership of a weapon. It's about the object.
    Saying we already have licensing provisions doesn't advance the argument against the registry as they have totally different purposes.

    The registry, while not perfect, does give police a tool to identify where weapons recovered in their investigations were SUPPOSED to be if they are legal, and by elimination helps identify black market weapons, too. They can then try to determine how and why legal weapons ended up involved in a crime. If someone transferred possession of a weapon but didn't update the registry, they'd have some 'splainin' to do if it ended up used in a crime later on. In the past, they could simply say, "Oh, it was stolen some months back … but I didn't report it." Now they have to report it. Or, "I sold it for cash at a flea market … I think his name was Dan." Now they have to transfer the registration. Imperfect as the registry is, it does help to determine chain of custody, etc.

    Moreover, what's the big deal with registering long guns?
    We have to register cars and pickups .

    • In a perfect world that is how it would work out, unfortunately in this world one of the first things criminals do with stolen firearms is to remove the serial number and/or swap parts.

      Or in the case of fireams that don't have serial number…they just remove the Canadian Firearm Centre registration number sticker…I'm not kidding.

    • Yes, we do have to register cars and pick-ups, but for a different reason. When the registry was first introduced, we were told it would reduce crime – but has the car registry prevented accidents or car thefts?

  47. it can be said said that registration itself is very intrusive….

    In the sense that the words can be formed by human mouths, perhaps, but that alone.

  48. Once again referencing the Supreme Court case (Reference re Firearms Act, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 783, 2000 SCC 31) there is no "constitutional right" to firearms, so therefore the Government has the ability to single out handguns, automatic rifles, hand grenades etc.

    By your logic, pre-1995 the Government could been challenged for discriminating against handgun owners.

    Sorry there is no constitutional case for discrimination of handgun owners, otherwise we would of challenged it a LONG time ago.

    • Yes it could have been challenged on the basis of discrimination before `95. What does that have to do with anything.

  49. There is always going to be balance. But saying the line is somewhere between registration and licensing seems kinda ridiculous. I can understand the arguments for neither or both being too much or acceptable, but I can't see why the abstract privacy line is there, except that's where its currently convenient for the anti-registry side.

  50. To be honest, it's not something I'd go to the wall for, despite my basic approval with the principle (I'm inclined to put aside initial costs for another debate, and I think ongoing costs are reasonable).

    I'd like to see solid measurements in place for another five years to help assess it's utility. After which, we should drop the registry if it cannot be shown as contributing meaningfully to our safety and security.

    All of that said, I find this issue resists debate, in that the opponents (not necessarily you, myl) have for some baffling reason chosen it as the symbolic crux of their dissatifaction with society, and that proponents have a maddening habit of assuming its logic is self evident (rather than putting forward concrete evidence).

    In short, the debate is really about a bunch of other things, as I see it.

    For myself, I'm willing to support the abandonment of the gun registry if in exchange we can eliminate rules for mandatory minumum sentences, legalize all drugs, entrench the right to abortion on demand, and fully recognize same sex unions and marriage. I think that would make everybody equally happy. Or equally unhappy.

  51. There is a list of criminal justice measures as long as your arm that the Conservatives have either campaigned on or implemented that police, via their professional associations, have positlively salivated over. The vast majority of items on that list has been strenuously opposed by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc.

    For instance, a politician can mention scrapping the faint hope clause to a room full of cops, and he'll get an ovation and drinks bought for him. Lots of people (criminologists and experts in corrections and sentencing) think scrapping it is a dreadful idea, and the opposition parties generally aren't having it either.

    Why not? Cops love it, just like they love the long-gun registry (or at least their professional associations officially endorse it). If the opposition's position is that criminal justice measures should be helpful to police, as they say to justify their support of the registry, then cops also say that scrapping the faint hope clause would be useful to them, so they should get on board just as enthuisastically, no? Ditto for tougher young offenders measures, more stringent conditions for parole, etc. etc. etc.

  52. I'm not necessarily in favour of the hand-gun registry, but it may be a more accurate tool. Its been around longer, and theoretically is a fairly accurate inventory of legally held hand-guns in the country. This could justify its continued existence.

    There's a lot of ifs there, and that doesn't even cover the additional IF it really proves to be useful in criminal investigations.

    However with long-guns, its estimated that over 50% are not registered, making the registry so incomplete its utility approaches 0. Even that estimate is a guess, because we don't know how many long guns exist in the country. Its very much barn door after the horse has bolted thinking.

  53. I take it you've never imported, registered or transfered a firearm yourself have you?

    I've known people who have been arrested, threatened with prison, seizure of their homes and their children taken away by social services because they did not register their hunting rifle or for misplaced paperwork.

    Please educate yourself before making snide comments.

  54. What if $2b was transfered (to CST) or spent on federal grants programs created to fight domestic violence. Maybe $2b is unrealistic, how about 1% of that = $20m. What would $20m do to fight domestic violence? How many lives would that save, tragedy averted? More than the money pit gun registry.

    The Dawson College shooter had a PAL and a licensed firearm, that didn't stop him from killing.

  55. Why do we have to exchange 1 thing for 5 things?

  56. It was new to me, I thought I was keeping on top of conspiracy theories. She seemed like a sane woman until we started talking about televisions.

    And I agree that we must be vigilant against the police and their desire to continue expanding their powers.

  57. ""Stop picking your nose." "MORE chips?" "Your mom honestly lets you watch this? I'm calling Social Services."

    Made me laugh. Worst job in world was my reaction as well – they might indeed be watching me but they really aren't seeing much.

  58. lol!

    Because I tend to be something of a prick when negotiating. And I also because I feel the balance of dissatifaction would be maintained with my proposal, and ultimately that is the sign of a fair deal.

  59. There's no simple, singular action or policy that can be enacted to mitigate domestic violence. But obviously, if a program could be suggested that included objective measurement standards, I'd be all for it.

    I'm interested in broad results. If a gun registry cannot provide that, then it should be scrapped. But at the same time,citing a singular, sensational example is not all that relevant.

  60. The money to get the registry was already spent, we're not getting it back. We can sit here and cry over spilt milk or make the best of what we've got. The registry, according to the much-revered Auditor General costs us only $3 million a year to maintain – the question is now whether that $3 million a year is worth it, keeping in mind that the police forces as a whole are indicating a resounding yes.

  61. There is nothing in the world more boring than arguments about what constitutes a straw man argument, so I'll just skip over that.

    My supposed registery is an analogy meant to illustrate the weakness of the justification which is "because the police want it." Frankly, I expected that most people would reject my registry immediately because it is – deliberately – an offensive idea. Just as opponents of the existing long-gun registry find it offfensive. Only more so, I would have thought.

  62. When cops talk about things they use productively in the day to day course of their job, I listen.

    When they talk about issues of abstract justice, rehabilitation, and social engineering, I tune out.

  63. Too bad the $3million figure is a complete fabrication that is being misreported in the news.

    The CBC, CTV and Mcleans have all stated that :
    "Conservatives argue the registry has been "$1-billion boondoggle," although a 2006 study by the auditor general found eliminating the long-gun portion of the registry would only save taxpayers about $3
    million a year going forward."

    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 http://www2.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/Committe

    So either Mr Martin stated this $3 million figure off record, or the number was fabricated by the Coalition for Gun Control.

    All ACUTAL AG and RCMP estimate for registration activities run in the $12 million range.

  64. It's unreliable and it's untestable. The tragedy that doesn't occur has a billion causes… so does the one that does occur for that matter. I wonder how many homocidal maniacs have been deterred by the long-gun registry? How many domestic murders? How many suicides? How would you measure?

    The long-gun registry is not a tool at all, it's an article of faith.

  65. All the cost benefit analysis done by independent means (usually the Auditor General and NOT the RCMP) have proved that the gun registry is NOT effective in stopping, solving or preventing any crimes.

  66. What billions? Again, crying over spilt milk here does nothing, the billion, 2 billion, or whatever it cost to get the registry is already gone – abolishing it just means instead of getting less than what we should for the registry, we get nothing for it – how is that fiscally responsible?

    Right now we're talking about $3 million a year to maintain the registry. You've already conceded a valid use for the registry and the other commentators (as well as the police) have provided others. The question is are those uses worth $3 million a year. The billions you mention no longer have relevance, except for bashing the Liberals a decade ago.

  67. I believe that when the late MP, Dave Batters, killed himself just a few months ago, it was with a gun. News reports said that the police were able to know that a man was making threats, and that there were guns in the home. Because of the registry, they knew what firearms were present, and to send a SWAT team. While they did not manage to save poor Dave's life, they did manage to protect themselves, and the public (the area surrounding the condo was closed off). No accidental shootings of police or members of the public by the distraught man.

  68. Of course. The money argument.
    The Conservatives' elimination of judicial discretion in sentencing will likely cost the taxpayer 100 times as much.
    Money's not an issue there, and the Conservaitve biased media won't even bother reporting on such costs.
    But they'll use the word 'boondoggle' on a regular basis to refer to the relative pittance spent on the gun registry.

  69. "The auditor general's report also found that there is a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of the gun registry, or to prove that it is meeting its stated goal of improving public safety.

    "The performance report focuses on activities such as issuing licences and registering firearms. The Centre does not show how these activities help minimize risks to public safety with evidence-based outcomes such as reduced deaths, injuries and threats from firearms," the report said." Canwest, May 17 '06

  70. Well, we already have gay marriage, so its four and a red herring.

  71. I cannot fathom how the tough on crime cons can credibly turn away from the police forces and public safety policies they claim to espouse.

    Interestingly, on the noon news here, there was a conservative man really angry at the conservatives for not going far enough, giving them half a menu only, and not fulfilling what they told the base they were gonna do.

    The thing I don't understand about current conservative governments — why the need to dismantle what is already built? Entire systems and institutions. When I read in the police presser that they would have to destroy millions of records they use thousands of times a day, I felt sick.

  72. I agree with all your points except the last. Granted many guns have no identifier but this could be changed.

    For example, a really effective gun registry would include a single round fired from the weapon. Then any crime scenes involving the weapon could be traced back to it regardless of serial numbers. In fact, this would allow the police to identify the weapon used even if the weapon is never recovered.

  73. Please demonstrate where somebody's home and children have been taken as a direct and sole result of not registering a firearm (which, it should be noted, is the exact opposite of registering a firearm).

  74. It was supposed to cost 2 million to make, and really 3 million dollars a year for a database is a little obscene.

    Anyway, somehow it blew through hundreds of millions of dollars in the last 7 years. Any evidence that it won't do so in the next 7? We've been told the money has already been spent before.

  75. I was assuming he was talking about churches who opposed it being forced to officiate over them.

    • More of a cease-fire from the groups still hell bent to reverse any gains on that front.

  76. I haven't seen any others from either the commenters here or the police.

    As to the money spent, let's recap. The registry was supposed to have a net setup cost of several million. It ended up having a net setup cost between 1 and 2 billion. Now, do you really think that this kind of excess is irrelevant to whether we should throw more money at the project?

    It's not as though the estimates so far have been within an order of magnitude (or three!) of the actual numbers.

    • The excess is irrelevant to whether we should continue to fund the project because, by all indications, the excess has already passed. The start-up costs were obscene, no argument here, but we're not paying the start-up costs now, we're paying for the maintenance. The two have nothing to do with each other at this point in the game.

      It's like buying an overpriced car with perfectly reasonable maintenance costs, then throwing the car away because of the overly high sticker price, which you already paid! Yeah the car was overpriced, but the money's gone anyway and now you've got no car!

  77. I think i've read enough of your comments to not get wound up about your analogy.:)
    It's straw man [IMHo] precisely because the reason the police want it are in no way analogous for a reason to have a cracy persons registry. On the whole i'd rather the police know where at least some of the guns are – even if that's offensive to some. Now if police officers were to come forward and say it's all bunk…we'd be talking.

  78. I have proposed an entirely re-done system of gun control in this country to the MPs involved in bringing down the registry, and keep in mind I am a gun owner:

    No 1 Case for removing long-gun registry is because the police find it so useful. They are already more heavily armed than what is allowed to the general public. It is not morally fair to have an unarmed public. What is unwritten in their support of the bill is that they can confiscate at any time for almost any reason. That is not safe or fair and is wide open to abuse and this fact has been proven throughout history.

    What I would like to see is a licensing and responsibility system that is tied into public displays of responsibility. DUI? Loose both driver's and gun licence. Drug violations? Same. Domestic abuse? Same. Public displays of irresponsible behavior. I know way to many goons who drink and shoot (and drive), and that is just wrong.

    I would make the training for the licencing far more involved. It's too easy. I completed it when I was 13 with a 96% average. There's no problem in that (I would go so far as to make it mandatory, in this age of computer-generated reality) but I believe that it would be wise to make licencing much tougher and more expensive. I would also add highly expensive, registered concealed-carry licences for citizens of good standing. Price at around $3000. This will allow a silent threat to all criminals.

    Canada's gun laws are created by polarized debate and that is stupid. I am a gun owner and I get a particular kick out of semi-auto "assault" weapons used on stumps and barrels and whatnot, but firearms are too dangerous to be used indiscriminately. Registration, however, creates a false sense of security, does no real good for the situation on hand, and creates a police state. It is unbalanced. I am not saying we need machine guns in every home, but that we need a system that reflects reality. The present system only addresses criminal intent and does nothing to eliminate a far more real threat of dangerous stupidity and ignorance.

  79. Way to change the subject Mike T. and answer a question with a question. You get a cookie!

    Registering a firearm has nothing to do with the safe storage of a firearm and there's no factual correlation with one registered/unregistered long gun and a negligent discharge causing death.

    Call StatsCan, I did.

    Unsafe use of a firearm kills kids, so do swimming pools and bicycles. What's your point?

  80. The auditor general is not a cop — why would anybody pay attention to her?

  81. Now, don't be giving any comment-dissers any ideas, there, G…

  82. Actually no. Well not according to a magazine article I read recently (in Popular Mechanics, see here:http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/milita

    The problem with ballistics is that the markings on a bullet are a) assumed to be unique, b) consistent with every round fired, c) easily and accurately identified as unique.

    All 3 points have been called into question as they have not been scientifically validated.

  83. Reports of the demise of the long gun registry may be a bit premature. The bill now goes to commitee for study and I expect it to be studied like few other bills ever have. Police chiefs from accross the country will be called to witness and once they are done it will be the turn of the families of gun violence victims (montreal massacre, RCMP officers et al.) to give their stories. This will probably take months and months and result in the bill being sent back to the house as a bill amending the registry rather than abolishing it. You can bet the assorted gun nuts who support abolition wont be called to testify because THE MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITY VOTED AGAINST THE BILL IN THE HOUSE. I suspect the bill will die in commitee when the next election is called. Just to make things clear I own some hunting rifles and very much approve of the registry.

  84. And I *personally* am not going to the wall either. I'm a wussified city-boy who hasn't camped more than twenty feet from the car in years. I don't hunt, I don't need to deal with varmints (although the skunks need a lesson taught to 'em, let me tell you…), and I do not commit crimes. The last firearm I discharged was some Fisher-Price BB gun when I was a boy scout (I hit the paper once or twice, but they did say something about inside those silly rings). I have no close family member in law enforcement.

    I just don't get how law-abiding people lining up to do good because the state says they must will be of any use in controlling the criminal use of either registered or unregistered weapons. And I have not been persuasively shown how cops' lives have been saved by this expensive intrusion. What I have seen and heard is a large number of law-abiding people pointing out what a waste it is.

    And indeed you drive a hard bargain for what you're willing to give up. Can we throw in an abolished or elected Senate, Quebec's signature on the constitution, and more polar bears?

    • Bears!!!!? But then I'd need to get a rifle, and – er, nevermind…

  85. The liberals, the CAPC, CGI, Coalition for Gun Control and a TON of other companies/organizations have their hands in the cookie jar. This crap has been going on for years.

    Now that the gov't has changed, the hand's are getting slapped at the cookie jar, and you bet your sweet ass the liberals don't like it at ALL.

    Liberals like getting free money, and they are scrupulous scavengers. They feel no guilt in their theivery. They avoid a guilt feeling by justifying their slippery business with a feeling of entitlement. "Oh, another cookie is ok…I deserve it…I WORKED for it".

    Thay haven't worked for anything.

    All the registry is to them is a cash cow….AND, it gives them control. And that's what they're all about. They care not about crime statistics or bloody murders on the city streets. They care about cold-hard-quid.

    If the liberals lose the registry, they lose a segment of control over the populace, and they also lose an avenue of cash.

    So, don't be fooled by what's right and wrong – factually and statistically. They want it for only 2 reasons – Money and Power

  86. If guns are decriminalized before marijuana I'm actually going to lose my mind. I can't believe the Liberals are actually pandering to this.

    • Most gun usage is does not harm anyone. The same is not true of marijuana. Anyway, I agree that marijuana should be decriminalized.

  87. Constable: "He has a firearms licence, your honour, and we'd like to search his home to see if he has any firearms as we consider him a threat."

    Not too hard is it.

    Of course then you need to come up with a convincing reason why the person is a threat, but that shouldn't be too hard.

  88. Why should we believe the police about any of this? These are the same clowns who have resisted any restraint on their use of tasers, and we know how that worked out.

  89. Your statement makes no sense. Legal guns are already legal. Legal medical marijuana use is already legal by Health Canada.

    Please lay off the pot and make a coherent statement, k-thx-bai!

    • The Liberals want to decriminalize failure to register your weapon as a compromise to the current legislation.

  90. Two problems:

    (1) The maintenance cost is not reasonable. It's a database.
    (2) Why should we believe the estimate for the maintenance cost after seeing what happened with the sticker price?

  91. "Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because… "

    …the money used to maintain and eventually upgrade the system could be put to better use. Most of the gun crimes in Canada are committed by gang members and parolees. If we are going to infringe on people's rights in the name of fighting crime then 3 million pays for quite a few ankle monitors and police surveillance of known criminals . But we all know that watching actual criminals is wrong while keeping an eye on Farmer Joe is critical. Seriously, spend the registry money on tightening up the border to reduce weapons coming from the US or on front-line police officers.

  92. All I know about the registry is the fact that in the 5 full years of it's operation 2004-2008 there were 321 more homicides than in the 5 years 1998-2002 prior to it's so-called completion in mid 2003. I also know using the unsubstantiated stats of the so-called police chiefs that the registry has had more hits than firearms registered and even with this the police cannot provide any evidence whatsoever that a single crime has been prevented. No wonder, their spending all their time not chasing criminals 10,000 times a day, how many more millions has that cost? . Clearly if one wanted a definition examplifying useless, one would be hard pressed to find something better than the Liberal's Firearms Registries both long gun and handgun the only difference being the handgun registry which has proved itself useless over 70 years.

  93. If we concede Geddes' point that it is beneficial to the police (which I don't believe), then the next argument is:

    Just because something is beneficial to the police does not make it worthwhile. The police would have us all under house arrest, because that would make their lives easier. Any infringement upon personal liberties, such as registries and licenses, should be avoided, because it penalizes everyone, regardless of our behaviour. People should be allowed to own something without justifying it to the police and paying targeted fees and taxes for it, if those people are law-abiding citizens. This includes hunters, gun enthusiasts, and people who want to own guns for self protection.

  94. So, Mr. Geddes. Have you heard the argument you wanted to hear yet? I mean, I don't expect you to agree with the other side, but do you at least acknowledge that there might be some room on the other side of the debate for reasonable doubts about:

    a) The effectiveness of the long gun registry in terms of public safety.
    b) The actual reason the police like the long gun registry.
    c) That we haven't seen the end of out of control spending on the long gun registry.

  95. “Sure, the registry is of some use to police, but that isn't a good enough reason to keep it because…”

    it really has no useful purpose.

    Imagine yourself as a police officer check the long gun registry when approaching a home. The check comes back negative. Would you approach the house with a casual 'well I don't have to be careful because the registry says there are no guns there" attitude? Of course not, because criminals don't register guns.

    A check of the LICENCE section would tell you that the owner was licensed, but what difference would that make? Licensed citizens have passed a background check and have no criminal record, and by and large are probably more careful with guns than the average citizen.

    The long gun registry was introduced to appear to solve a problem, but was poorly designed and was created by people who knew absolutely nothing about firearms. It was and is merely smoke and mirrors.

    The problem when it comes to firearms is more related to drugs and gangs than honest firearm owning citizens. The focus is in the wrong place. Gangs use guns to control territory, people and commodities. That should be the focus of police, not firearms owners.

    The Liberals instituted something they thought would work without really researching it properly. They ignored advice from the RCMP that it was unworkable, but once they were in it, they felt they couldn't back out. As a result, they backed it at all costs, otherwise they would have to admit they made a mistake.

    The long gun registry was ill conceived and definitely wrong headed legislation. It needs to be put out of its misery I say.

  96. using a horse to push a cart. Why are we not demanding that gun makers have pattern from each gun before being put on sale–then every purchaser will be registered to a certain gun–criminal or otherwise. work on the bullets rather than the guns.

  97. I have conclusive proof and that guns long or short don't hurt anything or anybody. Further I have very strong evidence to support the previous claim.

    I will give a hint "All guns require assistance in order to do mayhem"

    It's people that are the problem…..The justice system in this country isn't just in the toilet its has decended to the septic tank.

    Bottom line every gun fatality,injury or other crime or accident involving any firearm has a human acomplice.

  98. … because it is extremely wishful thinking to believe that the registry database is secure. There are hackers, liars, thieves, blackmail victims, desperate people, and scoundrels of all sorts in EVERY profession, including the police and related bureaucracies. It is no coincidence that break-and-enter incidents involving the homes of registered gun owners have increased since gun control was introduced. The registry is just a shopping list for the criminals. But it is now easier to identify the legal, registry-abiding owners, so they are being targeted , not just by thieves, but by the likes of David Miller (Toronto mayor) for gun confiscation because *surprise!* their guns are ending up in the hands of criminals.

  99. Personally, I'd like to be armed. Mainly because I don't want to be a victim, and I'd like to lower the risk that I could be one.

  100. I find it incomprehensible that those who register vehicles without complaint or concern cannot do the same with their guns! Every positive reason for having a vehicle registry can also apply to the gun registry. It is intended to keep vehicles out of the hands of unsuitable drivers. You must pass a test to get a licence to drive. You must register the vehicle and obtain a licence plate for it. And you must have valid insurance to operate the vehicle. Police can trace vehicles stolen or involved in accidents.

    Even though no one can prove the vehicle registry saved a life, I urge Conservatives and their supporters who oppose the gun registry to do the right thing. Get in their registered vehicles, check to make sure their licence plates, insurance and driver's licence are current and go register their guns!

  101. You can't think why the Police Chiefs would be for the registry, John? Perhaps it escaped your attention that CGI, the consultant company that built and now maintains the registry, "donated" over $100,000 to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. The organisation that Toronto PD head Chief Blair is the chair of. The organisation who had their own ethics advisor resign over similar payments from Taser International. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, there is a conflict of interest here?

    The registry is not a useful tool for frontline police, nor is it an efficient way to combat crime. I would like to direct readers of this article to a paper written by Dr.Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University on a MUCH more effective and efficient method of controlling gun crime at the source: a CRIMINAL registry. It's only three pages, and is definitely worth the read for interested parties: http://www.garymauser.net/pdf/May06ffMauser.pdf

  102. The police might find it useful to have wiretap on every citizen in Canada but could that be construed as a reasonable excuse to condone it. Or give the police the power to walk into anyone's house unannounced just to check up o their computer use. They may find it useful; police always find it useful if it gives them more power but is that the kind of Canada we want. Face it in the end citizens make laws and the majority of the people in Canada have objected to loosing yet another priviledge of living in a democracy. (thanks to Allan Rock)

  103. Just because guns are registrerd, it does nothing for gun control. Control of anything is hands on. And do we ban cars because someone my die in an acident, or because of drunk drivers, after all ,they are registred. Is amazing the stupidty of people who think because something on paper will stop crime!!!!

  104. long guns are not the problem, long guns are not an effective weapon in the commission of a crime, long guns are treated the same as restricted weapons, illegal weapons are the major choice of criminals, the registry does not change the requirements for gun ownership, the registry may create a lack of attentiveness in police responding to a domestic dispute where no registered weapons are present, the long gun registry is promoted as a solution to gun crime where the only identified benefit is being able to return stolen guns to the rightful owner (No guns are actually eliminated by registering them) , an effort to reduce illegal guns and the banning of automatic weapons, sawed off shot guns and large calibre guns would be more effective from a crime reduction and controlling costs aspect (Why anyone needs a legally registered sawed off shotgun or automatic weapon is beyong me) and by concentrating the registry on the restricted weapons police will have more time to investigate proper storage methods etc. from a smaller base of gun owners.

  105. This seems to be more of a typical political battle as opposed to a public safety issue. If it was more of a public satey issue then the registry would NOT survive very long. The 'old' FAC system was working for a long time, well, before the registry was implimented. People think that the abolishing of the registry will amount to opening up the wild west and we'll have gun battles on the streets, people killing each other in their homes in an ever escalating frenzy. Or so the Chief of Police or politicals would have you believe.

    MOST domestic murders are NOT done with a firearm but rather a knife or blunt objects. So it makes more sense to register our knives and kitchen utensels. Borders on the aburd but if this is the mindset, to reduce domestic murders, then it should be an obvious conclusion because more murders and violence is done with knives or other objects.

    The recent examples the CoP in Toronto gave amounted to stumble upons. The registry did not in fact point out that a particular individual had a horde of firearms. So far this usage of the registry is to 'hunt' down those people who have left their paperwork undone as opposed to going after the real criminals. Those that buy, sell and USE… unregistered guns.

    Because this is NOT about public safety and more about political power and the squandering of finances to keep a growing beaurocratic elephant fed and happy, you will see the oppositions forcibly 'shooting down' the efforts to use the money elsewhere, like stopping the influx of illegal firearms, etc. No… Its not about public safety but political spin to see who can garner more public funds to squander or further their career. Its not about what the people want but what the politicals want. Follow the money…

  106. The gun registry is one small step to limit so-called 'outdoors enthusiasts', aka cowardly animal killers. I support gun control to its fullest measure. I think the majority of Canadians have serious reservations about personal gun ownership and little appetite for the perverse 'hobby' of killing wildlife for sport.

    • Skinny D – Ducks Unlimited has done far more to preserve marshlands and natural habitat than PETA could ever hope to – Canada's tough conservation laws are usually the result of initiatives by hunting and fishing lobbyists. You are more likely to encounter a rabid animal in an urban area where hunting is banned and more likely to be attacked by a carnivore in a protected park than on private land.
      There is room for hunters and wildlife in Canada – the gun registry was the result of human behaviour towards other humans not animals.

    • Skinny, here’s what’s wrong about your position…

      1) You want to impose your value system on everyone else. Frankly, that is typical of left wing thought. If you don’t like “hunting”, then don’t hunt. As a hunter myself, I never advocate that everyone should hunt. To each his own.

      2) Unless you’re a total vegetarian, and never wear leather, you’re exhibiting blatant hypocrisy. Do you think that because you let someone else kill your Big Macs for you, you somehow are superior?

      3) Were it not for sport hunters, there would be virtually no government funding for wildlife conservation, period. That, sir, is a fact. It also is a fact that hunters, almost singlehandedly, fund literally billions to such organizations as Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Canadian Wildlife Federation, etc, etc, etc, for conservation and habitat protection.

      4) You obviously don’t know thing one about wildlife conservation and management. And you obviously don’t care that you don’t know, either.

  107. There's no video evidence, but the Registry is suspected of contributing to two killings, of people who were mistakenly believed to be holding weapons and shot after Registry searches revealed there were weapons in their residences.

  108. All firearms are murder weapons and should be banned with the exception of police and military . As for the brave "sportsmen" who torture and murder innocent animals to satisfy their perverse bloodlust , I suggest evening up the game by having them hunt other hunters instead of animals . We'll soon see how brave they are .

  109. The gun registry is a fabulous asset for the criminal element. All they have to do when they want a gun is hack into the registry choose a make and model, get the address, break in and get it. Seems to me that the police are complaining that a lot of the guns on the street are from breakins. Does anyone wonder where the perps are getting their info?and don't try to tell me that no one can hack into the registry

  110. A policeman that consults the gun registry before entering a house where there is a dispute is an idiot. Assume there is a weapon. Period.

    • Exactly, no policeman in his right mind would count on a government list, not if they care about living.

      One of the ten things Lenin said a Communist government had to have in place was a gun registry. When the time came, the collection began.

      The police chiefs are political appointments, not ACTUAL policemen!!

  111. A lot of points are being missed here. The gun registry was never going to prevent crimes, it was going to win votes in Quebec. The registry was opposed by the Oppsition, (Their main job, right?) so their supporters dragged their feet and didn't register and drove up the costs due to delays and etc. The guns being bought from that time forward could be related to licenses, but what about the hundreds of thousands (millions?) that were already in the hands of hunters accross the country? No, this was a cash grab by a cash strapped government, and would have probably been much better received if they had just said so. We license dogs to pay for dog catchers to control the ones of the people who won't look after their own. We license cars to pay for roads we drive on, and of course with both cars and dogs, if we lose them, the cops can use the license numbers to find us and give them back to us. Why not guns too?

  112. How many other lives could be saved and protectd for 2 friggin billion dollars. How many organ transplants. Or help for our homeless or medical system. Long gun control what a stunned program to pay for
    I would like to know who's feeding at this pork barrel. While the cries of truely needy go unanswered, as we cite lack of funding.

  113. As a victim of gun violence two armed criminals threatening our lives and robbing us with a restricted weapon confronted my wife and I in 2008 in our place of business. Restricted firearms must be registered and have been for much longer that the long gun (non-restricted) registration. A gun registry of any kind DID NOT prevent these evil men from committing this crime, nor did these evil men apply for a permit to bring the firearm to my place of business to commit this crime. These evil men had no firearms license, no firearms training, and no criminal checks. A gun registry of any kind does not prevent crime today, if a criminal is bent on committing a crime it will happen – registry or not.

    The law-abiding citizen should be properly trained, investigated and permitted to prepare for self-defense with a firearm in Canada, this should be an individual's choice not the governments. I am pro–life and I want to live, any registry will not keep me alive.

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