Monday, April 19, 2010

A Registry by Another Name

Today, Michael Ignatieff announced proposed amendments to Candice Hoeppner's (Conservative) private member's bill that would scrap the gun registry. The Liberal Party would make these changes to save the much maligned gun registry that was implemented under the Chretien government as a misguided means of gun control. Mr. Ignatieff is making this move to prevent a fractured vote similar to what happened in December 2009 when some of his Liberal MPs voted in favour of the Conservative private member's bill when he allowed a free vote.

His proposal would make it easier for owners of long guns to register their weapons by streamlining paperwork, removing renewal fees and, rather than making non-declaration a criminal offence, he suggests that it should be a ticketed penalty for first time offenders.

What Mr. Ignatieff fails to realize is that many Canadians do not want the firearms registry in any form, whether it is free or easier is of no consequence. When the original gun registry was passed by the Senate in 1995, it divided Canada along provincial lines with strong support for the registry in Southern Ontario and weak support in the Maritimes, Alberta and Saskatchewan. It also drew a line squarely between urban and rural Canadians.

The original (and unworkable) registry has already cost taxpayers a whopping $2 billion, obscenely over its original net cost estimate of $2 million after collection of fees. As well, an estimated 5 million gun owners in Canada did not register their weapons rendering the whole system a very expensive farce.

It would be interesting to know exactly what percentage of crimes involve the use of long guns versus crimes that are committed with handguns which are already restricted. It would also be interesting to know how many legal handguns are used to commit crimes versus those that have been illegally acquired. These are numbers that seem to be very difficult to access.

Michael Ignatieff needs to step down from his ivory tower, analyze how and why the Liberal's attempt to organize a gun registry didn't work in the first place, ascertain whether the majority of Canadians actually want a gun registry and rethink his plan before any more tax dollars are wasted.


Ignatieff Announces Moves to Save Gun Registry

History of the Canadian Gun Registry


  1. And yes, I realize that this is an extremely divisive issue!

  2. What I find interesting about the gun registry from a political perspective is that the same groups that the Conservatives so often trot out in front of the press to promote their "tough on crime" platform -- that is, victims' groups, police forces, and so forth -- are actually in favour of gun registries. They Conservatives just keep quiet about that.

    Gun registries may have their uses. For example, did the Dawson College shooter register his guns? Since his was doing so much boasting on-line, a quick check by the police to see that he had bought and registered a significant number of guns in a short period would have been a good tip-off that he was up to something. But it would be good to see the numbers.

    As for why it's been such an expensive debacle, God only knows.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    From your profile, I see you are in TO. In contrast, I'm in rural Maritimes. I guess that we see the registry from opposite ends of the spectrum. I see it has certain uses but it is certainly detrimental from a privacy perspective if you're a law-abiding citizen. Yes, I'm aware we all aren't law-abiding but where do you draw the line between privacy and having a drone in Ottawa know more than they need to.

    Some people don't mind law and order knowing what they're up to (i.e. allowing L&O to sample their DNA). I'm not in favour.