The Impending end of the "Long-Gun" Registry
The Long Gun Registry is on its last legs, and it’s about time. Although some claim that the Registry is an important part of keeping Canadians, both Civilian and Law Enforcement safe, this is simply not the case. While Firearm safety and control are important, the current registry program fails to prevent those who are a risk from gaining access to the weapons they intend to use. The Registry is a good idea, poorly planned and executed.
To begin with, the name alone shows a lack of understanding held by most Canadians regarding firearms. A gun entails a smooth bore, or barrel. A mortar, cannon, or shot-gun fall into this category, sometime, though not exclusively. The “long guns” referred to are actually rifles, which are not ‘guns’ and shotguns, which are, though they too may be rifled. The lack of understanding of such things shows that those who developed the registry program lack the experience required to properly establish a viable registry. They do not even know the terms, how can they understand the issues?
The majority (75%) of violent crimes in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Canada do not involve a weapon. According to Stats Canada, in 2006 only 2.4 percent of violent crimes involved a firearm. This is in comparison to the 6.2 percent involving a knife. Knives account for double the instances of weapon use in violent crimes over firearms. Moreover, the use of a knife to cause bodily harm is a more personal, brutal act. The majority of people will react more fearfully toward an assailant armed with a knife than with a firearm. So why is there not a registry for all bladed implements? Because that would be an irresponsible waste of tax payer dollars; yet you are twice as likely to get stabbed or slashed as shot. Thus, more money is being spent to prevent a less likely crime. This too, would seem to be a waste of those tax dollars.
According to Stats Canada, between 2003 and 2006, approximately 70% of firearms used in violent crime were unregistered. Taking into account the rate of violent crimes involving firearms, this translates to 0.72% of all violent crimes involving a registered firearm. Also according to Stats Canada, approximately two thirds of Firearms related crimes in 1998 involved a hand-gun, rather than a long firearm. Thus, approximately 0.23% of violent crimes involve a registered long firearm. And yet, when the Liberal government brought in the registry (in the period of 2003-6), it cost over a billion dollars net by the summer of 2006. This does not take into account the costs incurred by the owners of these firearms or the various police forces across Canada in order to comply with the requirements set by the establishment of the Registry. Less than a quarter of a percent of violent crimes, and yet the government at the time spent more than a billion dollars, the onus of which is placed on law abiding citizens, to try and lower the number.
This is not to say that the control of firearms is not an important issue. Indeed, control and registry are very important factors in keeping the rate of firearm related injury or death so low. The problem is, we are throwing money at a system that is not effective. Moreover, it is taking money and attention away from initiatives which could help to address the issue of illegal firearms. Indeed, as the majority of incidences of firearm violence are occurring with unregistered, short firearms, the majority of which are smuggled into major population centres like Vancouver and Toronto, usually from the United States. That should be a bigger focus. Stopping the smuggling of drugs and firearms across the border would help decrease the number of illegal firearms in Canada. From there, the rate of firearm related violence would decrease by default. At what point do we stop throwing good money after bad? After seven years, has the Long Gun Registry stopped the use of firearms in violent crimes? Are the registered firearms even the ones being used in the majority of these instances? No, so lets find something that works.
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Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada