The Commons: Bonfire of the registry

We mustn’t lose sight of the clear and present danger this registry poses

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. At its essence, this debate over the long-gun registry was always a debate about paperwork. And so it is only right and fitting that it should end now with a fight over what should be done with that paper.

For the record, Article 29 of Bill C-19, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, states that “the Commissioner of Firearms shall ensure the destruction as soon as feasible of all records in the Canadian Firearms Registry related to the registration of firearms that are neither prohibited firearms nor restricted firearms and all copies of those records under the Commissioner’s control.” And variously this much is viewed as a waste of both information and money.

“Why,” Nycole Turmel asked this afternoon, “destroy two billion dollars of accumulated information, while the provinces and the police want to keep it?”

Jason Kenney, whose turn it was to stand in for the Prime Minister this afternoon, stood and did his best John Baird impression, reading aloud a few quotes from NDP MPs who have stated their opposition with the registry. When he’d finished, Jack Harris stood to restate the question on behalf of the official opposition.

“Mr. Speaker, new information released today by Statistics Canada shows that homicides in Canada are at a 45-year low. The main factor is fewer deaths caused by rifles,” Mr. Harris reported. “Yet, on this very day, the Conservative government wants to not only turn its back on police, but burn all the data that helps keep the homicide rate in Canada low. Why is the government putting a divisive ideology ahead of our communities’ safety?”

In fairness, the clause in question does not specify the precise means of destruction. And while the NDP prefers to imagine that it will involve a fire pit in Vic Toews’ backyard, it is just as easy to imagine that the paper in question will be shredded and, indeed, even recycled. Or perhaps it will be used to build a giant papier-mache bust of Queen Elizabeth (or a smaller series of busts that will be displayed in Canadian embassies around the world).

Whatever might come of the files, we mustn’t lose sight of the clear and present danger this paper poses. ”Let us be clear,” Mr. Toews explained by way of response to Mr. Harris, “the only reason the NDP wish to retain these records is to reinstate the long gun registry whenever it is in the position to do so.”

Ominously, various New Democrats applauded this. A couple even held aloft four fingers.

Mr. Harris was unimpressed and now leaned forward to bark his lecture at the Public Safety Minister. ”Mr. Speaker, the minister’s answer is no excuse to destroy life-saving data that would help police keep our streets states,” he declared. “The Conservative government’s plan is tantamount to a $2 billion bonfire. It wants to destroy the data that police use 17,000 times a day and which they have asked the government to keep. The police deserve a fighting chance against gun crime in Canada, and if provinces also want to maintain this information for their own use, they should have the right to do so. Why is the government handcuffing law enforcement in Canada by burning all the records?”

On this matter of the $2 billion spent to establish and maintain the registry, Mr. Toews was equally concerned. Or at least he knew a woman who was.

“Mr. Speaker,” he reported, “as one woman from the Georgian Bay Women’s Outdoors Workshops stated, ‘As a woman, the long gun registry does not make me feel any safer or more secure. It is wasteful, ineffective and reduces funding to do real things. The $2 billion that have already been spent would have been better used on programs like health care, child care, women’s issues and allocating moneys to policing agencies to fight criminal and real crime.’ ”

Now all the government needs to do is use that paper to build a time machine to go back and redirect those funds to establish a national child care program and all our problems will be solved.

The Stats. Service Canada, the economy and the long-gun registry, six questions each. The G8 Legacy Fund, four questions. The auditor general, the RCMP and the Canadian Wheat Board, three questions each. The military, two questions. Aboriginal affairs, veterans, firefighters, the disabled, sharks and affordable housing, one question each.

Diane Finley, eight answers. Vic Toews, seven answers. Jason Kenney, six answers. Jim Flaherty and Pierre Poilievre, four answers each. Gerry Ritz, three answers. Peter MacKay, two answers. John Duncan, Steven Blaney, Leona Aglukkaq, Keith Ashfield and Maxime Bernier, one answer each.

The Commons: Bonfire of the registry

  1. Typical of the Con macho men that they would hide behind a woman’s skirts…..

    • I think you’ll find that most women sport shooters and don’t take crap from anyone, especially men.

      • Sorry…we’re all familiar with ‘prairie muffins’

  2. I doubt that scrapping the registry ever meant putting it in the recycle bin.

  3. I love that they dressed down and went out to a farm for the presser.  The data destruction may be violating the Access to Information rules.

    http://afewtastefulsnaps.net/?p=1365

    • You know it’s pretty trivial to amend the bill around that, even if it did apply, right? Which it doesn’t, as it’s destruction ordered by another Act of Parliament and thereby explicitly authorized, as opposed to the offense described in ATIA? McGregor’s gotten excited over nothing.

  4. The info should never have been collected from law abiding people. If the info applied to criminals that is a different matter. “handcuffing law enforcement”, grab a brain. Criminals did not register their guns in the 1st place.

    • Here’s something for your brain to ponder – people who kill people with long guns are no longer law abiding. 

      • Ya but JanB C only if the registered owner uses that long gun is the registry effective. Handguns and prohibited weapons are more than 95% used in crimes involving guns. Should all drivers get a speeding ticket cause one person causes a high speed accident. I think not

        • I’m somewhat ambivalent these days on whether or not the registry is effective, but I think your analogy is more than a bit off…

          Should all drivers get a speeding ticket because of one high speed accident?  No.

          Should all drivers register/license their vehicles because of a high speed accident?  Harder to answer what ought to be the case, although the reality is that we do require such registration. And maybe what is more curious, no one seems to complain about vehicle registration, and there are severe penalties for not registering your car or driving unlicensed, so why the anger towards the long-gun registry?

          • Bingo!!!

            I’ve never understood why registering is such a big deal. If one isn’t planning on breaking the law, why do you care if the authorities know you have a gun?

            It always struck me that the people who objected must be thinking that there is a chance they may use the weapon for illegal purposes down the road and so don’t want to make it easy for the cops to figure out who did it.

            Other than the cost, I have yet to hear a reason for opposing the registry that makes sense.

          • Clearly you don’t listen or care to talk to anyone opposed to it. People don’t want to register there firearms because the end goal of gun control advocates is to confiscate them.
            And the vehicle registration argument is ridiculous. The number of people killed by motor vehicles is orders of magnitude higher than those killed by long guns. Also a car is worth thousands of dollars and tends to be insured which means it could be used for other crimes (theft, insurance fraud) which may partly explain why we are forced to register them. But keep comparing apples to snowmobiles if it suits your worldview.

            Also enjoyed the “If you don’t register them, what are you hiding argument?”. A true classic. Right up there with “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

          • You are missing the point. Criminals never register their guns therefore no crimes are prevented. Long guns account for only 5% of  crimes with guns and registering a gun is not going to stop anyone who wants to commit a crime. A far better idea is mandatory jail time for crimes involving guns.

          • If you forget your drivers licence on the way to work and get stopped by police you don’t go to jail. If you forget your firearms licence on the way to the range and get stopped you will be charged criminally.

            You can own a car without a drivers licence.
            You can own a car without ever registering it.
            You can drive a car on private property without registration or a licence.
            If your drivers licence expires the SWAT team does not come to arrest you for possessing a vehicle without a licence.
            When you own a car the police do not randomly show up at your door and try to con you into consenting to a search of your home.
            When you own a car you don’t forfeit your rights against self incrimination.

            The comparison between registering vehicles and guns is not even reasonable.

          • @62da7cdbf9f4072f8b935b5452c8d5b6:disqus  – “the end goal… is to confiscate them.” Paranoid NRA-fan ranting. As I said… no argument that makes sense (well, to a rational person).

            @c41d85075ddbac09fce72e1bd5f45cfa:disqus  – true: hardened career criminals don’t. But lots of people commit crimes of passion or engage in criminal activities when intoxicated, etc. If they have guns handy, they may well use them as part of these impetuous crimes. The registry can help track them down.

            @CanadianLiberalist:disqus - the difference between a car and a firearm is that a car’s primary intended function is transportation; a gun’s primary intended function is killing things. So you’re right; the comparison isn’t reasonable. Clearly there is a more compelling reason to register firearms. (And before you assume I’m some raving anti-gun type, I used to target shoot, and I have hunted. For the life of me, I can’t see how registering a firearm in any way restricts one’s use of same.) Oh, and in Ontario, you will get charged and heavily fined, and will likely have your vehicle impounded, if you’re unfortunate enough to get caught driving without your licence with you. Not as serious a charge as the firearms charges you mention – but I refer you again to “primary purpose”.

            Could the registry have been better and/or cheaper? Probably. Was it oversold as a crime prevention device? Definitely. But is this sufficient reason to destroy data that has been collected at great expense? Not that I can see. But then, I don’t have paranoid delusions about government plots to seize my weapons and enslave me, nor any urge to join a US-style militia.

          • Could the registry have been better and/or cheaper? Probably. Was it oversold as a crime prevention device? Definitely. But is this sufficient reason to destroy data that has been collected at great expense? Not that I can see.

            The thumb upped portion. ;-)

          • the lgr does nothing. period. I can not tell you who owns a gun or where that gun is- thats what it was supposed to do and it doesnt.

            2,000,000,000 for nothing.  

          • If a crime was committed while drunk or enraged the cops would not need the LGR because their would be plenty of evidence around. Have you ever heard of a crime by a law abiding citizen using a long gun that was not solved? 

        • Actually, no the the LGR is not effective because it does nothing to stop a crime. If someone wants to kill someone with a gun, somehow they will get one. The police have plenty of forensic tools available to solve LG crimes without even needing the gun.

      • I’m having a harder and harder time remembering why I support the long gun registry as the day goes on.

        • No you’re not.

          • No, I’m not.

            Holy crap!  How’d you do that!?!?!?!

          • LOLOL….thanx for the laugh. I really needed it.

        • “You will be assimilated”  Lol!!

        • Can you at least remember how this jewel of Police Oversight actually cost?

      • Less than 2% of murders are committed by licensed gun owners. It would seem the world would be safer if the police focused on the unlicensed citizens who are most likely to commit murder. The spotlight is on you!

        • However, most calls to police are over domestic disputes.

          Police are called thousands of times a day to homes across Canada.

          Now, I can’t say whether or not this is the best use of funds, but if you were the cop ordered to respond, woudn’t you like to know that the drunk man beating his wife has 10 rifles in the house?

          • No police officer would ever assume that the registry can tell them whether a gun is present or not. The registry is full of errors (guns registered to the wrong people) and omissions (less than half of the guns in canada are registered. As well, If you are the type who is willing to shoot a police office it is quite likely you have never registered your guns.

            As well, the officer will often not know exactly who is present at the scene. Just because there aren’t any guns registered to the address or known occupants doesn’t mean the perpetrator doesn’t have any. They could live elsewhere, have unregistered guns or have guns registered to other people or locations.

            Police officers, for their own survival, assume there are weapons at every scene they attend. They do not
            approach the scene any differently. All houses are filled with weapons,
            it’s not just about guns.Only those ignorant of the reality would believe a police officer attending the scene of a violent crime would find the registry useful.

            Even if the officer did want to know, they still know if there is firearms licence holder who lives at the address. The registry is not the end of the licensing system which will still track owners. That said, for the above reasons, it doesn’t help an officer much.

          • Don’t try to rationalize with the lefties on this board.  Anything that this Conservative government does is to be criticized even if they have to turn themselves into pretzels to argue the case.

      • People who kill people with long guns never registered their long guns, or if they stole them from someone who DID register them the filed off the markings…… so then its no longer registered.  The LGR had no function- even the guns of legal gun owners could not be traced or tracked. You do know we can loan our guns to other legal gun owners right?  

        Whats the point of doing police checks on law-abiding gun owners all the time too….as if we are potential criminals for owning a gun legally…. as if the actual criminals will have their PAL or have their guns registered….

  5. Getting rid of the long gun registry was a long time coming. It only ever affected those who were honest enough to register their guns in the first place. And destroying all the records is a wonderful idea. Again whose info is it anyway. Oh ya the law abidding citizens that’s who. Not the criminals. I am glad it is finally being done and being done right

    • Actually the data is now available all across Canada…and some provinces are keeping the registry.

      • You’re still not very clear about this, are you.

        That data floating around online is completely stripped of identifying information. No names, no addresses, four years out of date. Downloading a copy is not the bold act of defiance you think it is.

        • The police in every province have it….unstripped.

          • Not for long, and it’s already mostly useless.

          • There is nothing the feds can do about it….and no, it’s not useless.

            Mine has been upgraded regularly….I always get a notice.

          • Jeez, she has a gun !

      • No they are not. It isn’t going to happen.

        • AHAHAHAHAHA

      • We shall see if they obey the law that will be passed which requires all  records to be destroyed. This was a federal program, not a provincial program. It was federal legislation and the records are the property of the federal government even though they shared the information with the provinces.

        The records are now so outdated they would be virtually useless to a province anyway. Yes they may know who registered a gun when back when but that has long since passed. The Conservatives stopped enforcing the registry back in 2006.

        • It’s illegal to wipe out a govt data base….and the program belongs to everyone that paid for it….which is all of us.

          The records are not outdated….I get notices about it, so I’m sure everyone else does.

    • So here’s a question: if it’s so useless, why do the cops access it “17,000 times a day”? Are they that bored sitting in their speed traps?

      Most registered long guns are used properly. But some ARE used to commit crimes. And it’s for those occasions the registry was created. No, it’s not the cure-all that some politicians proclaimed it to be. Yes, it cost a lot more than it should have. But isn’t it a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face to destroy the data that we spent billions collecting and which is actively being used?

      • Where do you get “17000″ times a day? That is garbage.

        • Scroll up. The article quotes Harris, and I’m quoting him. May well be hyperbole, but that’s why I used the quote tags.

        • The registry is part of the overall computer system. Everytime the police use the system it searches the gun registry whether they need it or not.

          The sad part is the Liberal government thought spending $2 billion to set up a computer system to track law abiding long gun owners as a way of preventing crime is laughable.

          • Is that like spending $50 million on infrastructure in the Muskokas for economic stimulus?

          • At least Muskoka got something for it. We got a fancy computer system that doesn’t work and a bureaucracy that tracks law abiding citizens. You may think its alright to do that but I believe we are innocent until proven guilty.

          • Hollinm,

            Hello, can you read your own posts?

            we got a fancy computer system that is accesed 17K times a day!

            Do you think the Gazebo in the mukoka gets that kind of traffic?

          • backness….pay attention. The 17,000 number is a false argument. As I explained. The gun registry is part of the police computer system. Anytime they search the system it automatically connects to the gun registry whether the police officer is interested in the registry or not.

  6. My arse pols and bureaucrats are going to dispose of info. Cons making a big song and dance about how they are going to erase data because they actually have no intention of completely deleting info. 

    Nature of bureaucracies, they don’t erase info.

    Also, even tho I am sure she’s a wonderful woman, I am not all that keen to be ruled by anon people who belong to Georgian Bay Women’s Outdoors Workshops.

    • “I am not all that keen to be ruled by anon people who belong to Georgian Bay Women’s Outdoors Workshops.”

      Why not?

    • It almost like Chretien talking to homeless people right?

      • Quite. 

  7. If anyone thinks there aren’t hundreds if not thousands of electronic backups of the registry, they’re still living in 1956

    • Vic Toews thinks shredding is all that’s needed. 

    • The bill can easily be amended to make it an offense to retain such data.

      • What – make criminals out of law abiding public servants?  My surreal meter just  went up in smoke. 

        • LOL you don’t even own a gun, so stop blowing smoke outcherass

          • Careful Omen, she has a gun.

          • LOL and I knows how to use it ~ Annie Oakley

  8. I notice no one supporting the gun registry has yet provided empirical data studies that show the value of the registry. One would safely suggest if there was evidence to support the registry it would have been properly researched and published to prove the registrys’ worth.
    Why would people not support the registry? In the absence of any supporting statistical data to prove otherwise, it appears like just another Orwellian big brother invasion of privacy.

    Please… don’t bother to regurgitate half truths and empty rationalizations as rebuttal… show me the proof.

  9. “Why,” Nycole Turmel asked this afternoon, “destroy two billion dollars of accumulated information, while the provinces and the police want to keep it?”
    LOL  they admit it cost 2 billion dollars here because the police want it but wasnt it the police “report” that said it was only 4 million a year or something? These guys cherry pick their stats to suit their argument.

    • The 2 billion is the total cost of the registry.  The RCMP,  who operate it,  say that it currently costs 4 million a year to run. 

      • Incorrect, Jan. $4m is the savings realized when the RCMP took over the program. They found efficiencies. If you look at the costs that are involved in every transfer for postage, printing and envelopes as well employee labour, you’d realize how laughable that $4m figure is. In every transfer multiple pieces of mail are sent out.

        Real yearly costs of the registry portion are over $20 million. The $4m figure is a misrepresentation started by the Coalition for Gun Control. The police chiefs recently asked that  if the registry was eliminated that the budget be passed onto them to fund other policing initiatives. The funds they asked for were a multiple of the $20m figure.

        In the end, if it costs us $1 and saves no lives, it’s $1 too many.

  10. “ but burn all the data that helps keep the homicide rate in Canada low.” LIE.    Homicide rates in Canada have been falling at a constant rate for the last 45 years, TRUE, but DISRESPECTIVE of the LGR.     This is one of the arguments commonly made against keeping the LGR I find it odd that this guy tries to twist it into a reason to keep it.    

    If the LGR had never existed murder rates in Canada would still be at a 45 year low……
    http://www.globalmontreal.com/gun+control+homicide+rates+not+linked+study/6442496940/story.html

  11. A 16 year old registry is responsible for a 45 year trend! Who knew!

  12. Getting rid of the motor vehicle registry was a long time coming. It only ever affected those who were honest enough to register their cars in the first place. And destroying all the records is a wonderful idea. Again whose info is it anyway. Oh ya the law abidding citizens that’s who. Not the criminals. I am glad it is finally being done and being done right     

    • You’re not as clever as you think you are, sweetie.

      Cars and drivers only need be registered only with regards to public roads. If you own a vintage sports car and never drive it off your property, neither you nor the vehicle is required to be licensed. Which is analogous, really – personal property used in such a way as to affect no other person shouldn’t be tracked by government. Only once ordinary use of it requires affecting others is a registry justified.

      • Sounds reasonable, honeybuns.  How are firearms different?  Presumably, just as most cars in the country are actively used on the roads, most of the long guns in this country are used for sports/hunting/protection.

        • Public roads. Private property. See the difference?

          • I think most hunting is done on Crown land. And the weapons have to be transported on public roads. Your analogy only works if the gun never leaves the owner’s house.

          • Crown land is public, I’m certain.

  13. To purchase a rifle or shotgun you must have a “possession / acquisition” certificate that reflects that you have passed a hunter safety course.  That means that a certified firearms officer has tested you and found you safe.

    The Long Gun Registry is simply a list of compliant, law-abiding Canadians who are careful to follow the legal guidelines of gun ownership.  Criminals do not comply.

    In Switzerland, every day someone who has been assigned an automatic weapon travels with that weapon by bike or private automobile with ammunition to “comply” with their laws in being ready to defend the nation.  Canadians, on the other hand, are being scared sh_ _less that they may not comply with the growing multiplicy of police-state-ready rulings to muzzle and confine a FREE PEOPLE.  

    If you break the law and cause harm, take the punishment.  If you abide as a free-born person of good reputation, continue in that reputation. 

    Hell no!   I do not accept the stigma and control of those who would withdraw my Canadian rights.
    When the government punishes those police who did violence at the last G-20…when appropriate punishment is meted out to the many police who have demonstrated their “fast-on-the button” use of tasers to kill or psychologically harm Canadian civilians–then, and only then, will I consider the opposition to dismantling the Long Gun Registry.

    Imagine….how many lives could be saved with $2 Billion put into homeless shelters!!!

  14. Its $4 million too much. The registry is useless.

    • I feel the same about our current government: useless and costs too much.

      • Of course that is your opinion. Many Canadians are quite happy to have a Conservative government who is working on behalf of all Canadians. You really think that Turmel or Rae would be better. Don’t bother answering I know what you are going to say.

  15. Peter McKay and Natinchik spend more taxpayer money on private and unnecessary public trips than the yearly gun registery costs.

    • Oh get off the pot! What a silly comparison. Yes the Canadian government should not use the Challengers because it may offend some of the lefties in this country. They should sell them and hitch a ride with the Americans when they want to go somewhere or even better ask the Russians to give them a lift.

      Don’t be so damn petty! These men are working hard for the country. These challengers cost money even when they are sitting on the ground.

      The registry certainly costs more than $4 million a year. In fact someone I think on this board suggested it was more than $20 million. Any amount is too much. It is not doing what it was intended to do and you know it. If it was supporters could name one person whose life was saved because of the registry. How can it save anybody when it is tracking law abiding gun owners? Criminals do not register their guns. Get it!

  16. “Why destroy two billion dollars of accumulated information, while the provinces and the police want to keep it?”
     
     First off, because it was fraudulently collected information to begin with, remember “it will only cost 2 million dollars if you pass the bill”? An outright fraudulent lie to sell the Canadian people 2 billion dollars, less several millions in unaccounted money, of socialist garbage that only harmed honest taxpayers.
     Secondly, Canada is a free country not a police state where the Stasi get to keep private documented records of people’s property, especially firearms. Didn’t history teach you anything?
     

    • You must be over the top about Harper’s new big brother internet surveillance legislation.  Talk about Stasi-like.  I would expect the freedom loving gun owners will be standing up against it.  

      • @ JanBC, 
         
         Absolutely! I have already voiced strongly against any invasion of privacy of Canadian citizens by our government. The Harper government’s concern of foreign borne terrorism occurring in Canada needs to be met by other means. Namely, far better border control including better screening of visiting foreign nationals, their national affiliates, and recent Canadian immigrants.
         
         

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