Gun registry religion

Here’s my disclaimer: I grew up in rural Southern Alberta, surrounded by Conservatives and gun-owners. I think my dad owned between 3 and 5 rifles and shotguns. Nevertheless, I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about the gun registry legislation.

I’ve generally supported the idea in principle, but if there’s no evidence there for it, it may be time to give it up.

That is, unless someone can provide some real, evidence-based arguments for it’s continuation.

Instead we get this (in reference to the Montreal Massacre which inspired the registry):

Not only are these ReformCons forgetting the women of the Polytechnique, they’re stripping their deaths of meaning. And dismissing 20 years of heroic feminist struggle to try to make Canada a safer place.

I’m sorry, but an emotional appeal to that tragedy does not a good argument make.

In fact, trotting their memory out to appeal to your own partisan gains is distasteful and disgusting.

If there were evidence supporting the registry, it ought to have come out in the Auditor General’s report three years ago that instead said:

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.

You can also find police chiefs on either side of the debate, bringing their personal politics in with little more then anecdotal evidence.

Can registered guns be used to kill people? Absolutely.

Can those evil villains still access unregistered guns? Absolutely.

Is this the only method we have of knowing who has guns? No. In Canada we already license firearms owners and have safety training courses. This fact seems to be absent in every single mindless debate on this issue.

So up until now I was a luke-warm supporter to neutral on the gun registry. But after so many crap, holier-than-thou arguments (especially from partisan Liberals), I personally couldn’t care less if they scrapped the registry tomorrow.

Hell, maybe we could actually put the money toward social programs and education campaigns that can actually prevent violence before it happens.

See also:

On the long gun registry. To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth


32 thoughts on “Gun registry religion”

  1. I guess I’ve just never understood how registering a gun is that much more of a big deal than registering a car.

  2. I personally couldn’t care less if they scrapped the registry tomorrow.

    Then do your fellow progressives who do care a favour and STFU instead of inadvertently helping the regressive conservatives.

    1. Giving bad and flawed arguments hurts your own cause. This isn’t all us vs. them. It ought to be about choosing the best policies. Do you have proof the gun registry is worth the money? Because there’s a lot of hurting programs out there that could use the cash.

        1. I’m a progressive because I generally consider it to be the most rational based policy. I don’t believe we’re going to win in the long run with irrational arguments. So if progressives want to trot out bad arguments I’m going to call shit shit.

          I didn’t care about the gun registry, but after seeing no good arguments – only bad ones – for it, I’m more inclined to side against it.

          And I don’t see how I’m “stabbing anyone in the back” since my party – the NDP – and the Liberals haven’t actually taken a side on this. Nevertheless, even if they had I’d still criticize them for it if they brought out crap arguments like “an attack on the gun registry is an attack on feminism.”

          I’m no fundamentalist and I sure as hell ain’t a fundamentalist liberal.

        2. And here is the problem. Bad policy is bad policy. It doesn’t matter what party came up with it. Picking a segment of the population and making them the scape goat of crime after an emotional event is bad.

          Its not a us vs them issue and never had been.

          Its just easy for a government to create laws that effect primarily middle aged white men in the name of public safety. If any other group in Canada had been attacked in this way it would have never happened.

          The simple fact that the punishment for a registered sex offender who fails to inform the RCMP of an address change is treated less harshly based on possible prison time then a licensed firearm owner who owns firearms fails to inform the RCMP. To top it off a paper criminal could now have a criminal record. Does this even seem fair?

          I suggest you look up how well gun control worked in recent history for both Jamacia and the UK. For a history lesson I suggest you look up how well it worked for Germany under Hitler and USSR under Stalin. Before you say this could never in Canada I would suggest the people of Germany would have also said the same thing. Gun Control or at least the IANSA version simply does not work and never has.

          Now we see the Liberials wanting to decriminalize parts of C-68. Why now? Some would say it is to late the Gun Lobby in Canada did not really exists before C-68 a vocal minority the Coalition for Gun Control can be blamed. There are over 2 Million gun owners in Canada and there is evidence to indicate this could be as high as 7 Million. For the most part they are angry about most of the gun laws in this country and the lax sentaces given out for “real” gun crimes.

  3. So if progressives want to trot out bad arguments I’m going to call shit shit.

    But when conservatives trot out bad arguments you call them the greatest thing since sliced bread and then go on to repeat them.

  4. Problem is, Robert, the Cons may actually be right on this one. The registry may have been a complete waste of money that did nothing to make anyone safer. Even a broken clock’s right twice a day and all that. For myself, and I suspect for Ian as well, it doesn’t matter if the guys in the orange shirts win. It matters if they win and deserve to.

    Ian, I blogged something similar earlier this week. See here. I suggested that the emotional heat may be generated by the fear urbanites — such as myself — are acculturated to feel towards guns as such. That doesn’t excuse not bothering to check for evidence, but it might account for why some folks are considering this such a big deal.

    1. I saw that and had linked to it at the bottom of this post. You nailed my thoughts exactly.

    2. FWIW, I’d also like to see the evidence which shows that registering cars has some sort of beneficial effect. I’ve been thinking about that in the context of the gun registry, and I’m not sure any longer that it works any better.

    3. The registry may have been a complete waste of money that did nothing to make anyone safer.

      How do you know that. Can you measure crimes that never occurred? As for the money, it costs very little to maintain the registry. The recent report says $8 million for both the long gun and hand gun registry. That would be even less if the fees for long guns were being collected.

      I suggested that the emotional heat may be generated by the fear urbanites

      This battle is nothing but emotion on both sides.

      1. You certainly can measure crimes that never occurred: you look at the crime rates over time and see if, post-registry, they went up, went down, or stayed the same. More sophisticated statistical tools can be used to control for the possibility of other variables affecting shifts in the crime rate. I’m not a statistician, so don’t look to me to do it, but you’d think that someone would have checked at this point to see if the registry actually affected things.

        You can also look at prosecutions and see what proportion, if any, required the information in the registry in order to succeed. That’d be another way to justify it. Again, you’d think someone would’ve checked this, rather than relying on unreliable anecdotes.

        $8 million spent for no benefit is still $8 million wasted.

        1. you look at the crime rates over time and see if, post-registry, they went up, went down, or stayed the same.

          They did go down. So I guess the registry works.

        2. They have been going down since the 70’s. The rates would have to come down even faster based on previous trends to see a difference and that just is not there.

          Even then if it had dropped faster one has to put a value on those changes.

          For 2 Billion we got unmeasurable results and less then 1/2 the firearms in the country registered.

          1 single MRI facility would have out performed the registry with real tangible results.

          What could have been done with 2 billion of put towards breaking the cycle of violence (domestic abuse)?

          What could have been done for targeting at risk youth with real funds?

          How many kids in Canada could have started the school day with a real meal?

          The government has limited resources and wasting 2 billion of it is a crime.

          Lets not even get into the the whole bill C-68 which violates the rights and privacy of firearms owners. If any other group in Canada had been the target other then law abiding honest middle aged white men this coudl never have happened.

  5. You show some sense here Ian!

    The statistics do show crime rates going down, but what one is not usually told is that they were declining at a constant rate since before the registry was in place. The point at which C68 (establishment of the registry) occurs on the year vs crime graph is simply a flat line. No change in the constant decrease of the crime rate. Therefore it did NOTHING.
    For a reference see:
    Gary Mauser, The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales, Public Policy Sources, No. 71, The Fraser Institute, Vancouver, BC. November 2003, page 16

    Also useful is: Gary Mauser, Off Target: Gun Control In Canada, Journal of Firearms and Public Policy, Vol 13, Fall 2001
    The UofA has access to both on their servers.

    Furthermore to the argument ‘registering cars, why not register guns’.
    Sure lets do it that way. A car only needs to be registered to be driven on public roads, vehicles used on private property do not need to be registered nor does the operator need to be licensed. The registration fee for vehicles was intended for road maintenance and construction so that vehicle owners pay as they are the ones using said roads. By this logic, a gun only used on private property for self defense or on a private shooting range will not be registered. If I register my gun, the cost will go towards the construction of public shooting ranges. Vehicles cannot speed on public roads without a fine, but on a private racetrack they can do as fast as they want. Registered vehicles can have the mechanical capacity to speed without being illegal. If we continue this analogy to firearms, the government can regulate how I use my gun on public property, but if on my private land I can play with a machine gun if I so wish. An unregistered vehicle gets a fine, so would an unregistered firearm (now it is criminal code charges ie jail)

    The vehicle registry and firearm registry are nothing alike

  6. Sorry Robert, it is distorted facts and emotion on your side.

    The anti-registry side has facts.

  7. Ian,

    The stance of the Liberals and NDP are very clear on the gun registry. If C-391 was a government bill and not a private members bill both parties would have whipped there caucus.

    As a matter of fact both parties are very clear on there intentions for making all semi-automatics restricted.

    The NDP is also very clearly for a ban on handguns.

    Most of C-68 is bad law and has many intrusions both in terms of rights and privacy.


    1. Yes, there is emotion on both sides of the firearms issue. The difference being the anti-gun folks have nothing to lose while the gun owners have everything to lose including their culture. The Auditor General summed up the lack of worth of the gun registry nicely. Activity has nothing to do with effectiveness.

      The Liberals have also stated on more than one occassion that they intend to ban ALL semi-automatic firearms (that would include pump actions as is the case in other jurisdictions) as well as handguns.

      Firearms registration makes confiscation possible and that is the history in other countries. So you can see the real agenda of registration is stepped eradication of private firearms ownership. Just look at the effect of the Firearms Act to date for confirmation of this statement. Otherwise why support a multi-billion dollar program that has failed in all its stated purposes?

      Yes, a vote for the CPC is the only choice left to gun owners.

  8. Like many, I am forced to vote cpc while holding both my nose and down by breakfast. I would likely vote NDP if it were not for their anti gun stance. Till then this one issue voter favours the cpc.

  9. Paul, they do not say they want to make semis restricted, they state they want to ban them. Just like they say about handguns. Handguns are already restricted, the language indicates they want to prohibit both, whether they mean take use of the 12.8 classification that is currently unused, or confiscate without compensation like they did the SPAS12 and coverted auto semiautomatic firearms after C68 was inflicted.

  10. pro c91,

    I don’t disagree with you. This was the plan all along. Starve the shooting sports or new members until such a time the rights of few vs 7 million could be squashed quietly.

  11. Sorry, I don’t usually do this, but I’m reading so much misinformation it isn’t even funny.

    Please read the following survey’s conducted by the RCMP regarding the gun registry:

    The gun registry does work, and it is used often by Canadian police. Is it poorly run? Does it waste money inefficiently? Yes to both questions. But it is an idea that works in principle, and thus scrapping the whole plan was absolutely based on ideology, not the facts available.

    1. It’s funny that you cite those studies, because they don’t really prove much.

      First, the police would likely use and find it useful to have phone wire-taps of every household in Canada, or to have video surveillance of every home, business and public space. That doesn’t mean we should have these things unnecessarily.

      Second, the question has to be not a survey of opinions – since I can poll everyone in Mexico on how long the 12th King of France’s nose was but that doesn’t make it true – but an actual look at whether the gun registry has had a significant effect (i.e. greater than the background effect) on crime and prosecutions over the time since it was implemented.

      Finally, Communism and the Free Market were ideas that worked in principle, but we have seen so far that people are too easily corruptible for most idealisms.

      But I will agree that the Conservatives likely moved to kill the registry out of ideology rather than facts (but that doesn’t automatically mean that support of the registry isn’t based on ideology either – and hence the point of my article).

  12. Hi Paul. Yes, you are correct. That is why many of the prohib categories, such as full auto, shortbarreled handguns are only banned for anyone who did not own one prior to C17 in 1991; the gov did not want to deal with constitutional lawsuits resultant from property being confiscated. Instead the ‘banners’ just wait till those who are grandfathered to die, and then take their guns, The SPAS12 was a different story, as there was only a handful registered at the time, and the gov was prepared to and did deal with the resultant lawsuits. Usually under politically appointed judges with a hard on for civilian disarmament.

    Matt: Sorry, but you are peddling the misinformation here(Or rather the RCMP, but you drank their Kool-aid). CFRO is not the long gun registry, nor is it simply queried when an officer has a gun related issue.

    Traffic stop: when they enter your name in their system(CPIC), the CFRO is queried, and it automatically tells the officer if you have a firearm license. So that number of uses they cite includes anyone in the country, whether they own a firearm or not, that gets pulled over. Either way it counts as a CFRO query.

    If they police come to your house for any reason, your name is ran through CIIDS (computer integrated dispatch system), which again automatically connects to CFRO.

    So whenever the police investigate anything at any residence, or pull over anyone, that counts towards the CFRO uses. Way to go. That info about who has a firearms license will still be available after the registry is dead anyway.

    A recent poll of front line police officers gave 2089 for scrapping the registry and 189 for keeping it. (Done by detective Randy Kuntz of the Edmonton Police Service)

  13. Ian, you know the Edmonton strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan. Would you have some words with her regarding the registry? She failed to vote for its abolition at second reading. She voted to keep it. If she wants to keep her riding, where she only won by a few hundred votes, it would be best not to alienate the 100s of gun owners in her riding. It would be sad to see her lose her seat. She has a chance to make things right at 3rd reading after the bill has been in committee.

    1. A poll of front-line officers is as useless of an argument for/against the argument as a poll of usages. I only take issue with the plethora of crap arguments. Linda Duncan won with Jack Layton announcing in Edmonton that the NDP supported an all-out hand-gun ban. I said I was ambivalent about it at the start, and I still am mostly.

  14. I never said it (poll of front line officers) was not useless. The police would advocate for warrant-less searches if they thought they could get away with it. It is simply included for contrast with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police who consider it valuable. I did not make this, clear, my mistake.

    There are far more long gun owners than handgun owners; as that is my riding, and having many hunting friends in that riding as well, I know none of them will vote for Linda Duncan now, despite voting for them before.

    Mind you, Linda Duncan was the only NDP elected in the province, when the NDP announced support for a handgun ban. This can be looked at from both sides.
    Either way, in a heavy university riding, demographics regularly change. I doubt after her poor show on this issue she will be relected.

    1. Have you considered rallying your friends to make requests to her: The NDP has no official position on the registry (media and popular opinion are not truth in this case), and as a party (minus one MP) voted against the implementation in 1995. It’s worth at least asking Ms. Duncan if she would consider voting against the registry on the final vote if it is a major concern for you (and you would otherwise support the NDP). Talking to your MPs can never hurt.

  15. Been there, done that, she is a personal supporter of it, and brings up the usual arguments for it based on emotion. I have spoken to her in person, although not recently.

    Even if she favoured elimination of it, there is still party loyalty, and Jack has a hard on for keeping the registry and a handgun ban(even sillier than the registry)

    1. Fair enough. But there is no NDP policy on the registry, so he may have a personal opinion but there’s no “party loyalty” to it. The NDP voted AGAINST the registry when it was first proposed (save for Svend Robinson), and didn’t whip this last vote because there’s no official stance on it.

  16. 1- If I punch you, or you’re loved on – You’ll punch me back, and you are legally allowed to use the same level of force to protect yourself.

    2- If I increase the threat and attack you or your loved one with a knife – You’ll grab a knife and fight back, and you are legally allowed to use the same level of force to protect yourself.

    3- If I further increase the threat to your life or your loved ones, and attack you with a gun – suddenly you claim its illegal for me to use the same amount of force to defend my life or my loved ones life?

    My are the lives of civil servants (police) more valuable than your, whereby they are allowed to carry weapons to preserve their lives from criminal assault, but you can’t?

    The problem with liberals is that common sense is beyond their grasp, as they are more focused on their Utopian agenda’s, rather than real life.

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