Monday, November 16, 2009

Long gun registry critics can't shoot straight - Tieleman fires back with both barrels

Returning fire on gun registry critics

Align Right

- Nick Atkins photography

UPDATE November 18 - The Globe and Mail's Jane Taber reports that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is "reconsidering" his decision to allow his caucus members a free vote on the gun registry private members bill. Watch this blog for more info as it becomes available.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday November 17, 2009

Last week, many assailed my defence of the long gun registry - here's why they're wrong

By Bill Tieleman

"The recent vote is appalling. We will witness the tragic consequences of this bill."

- Dr. Carolyn Snider, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians

A lot of people had strong opinions on last week's column opposing the vote in Parliament to kill the long gun registry, passed with all Conservative and some Liberal and New Democrat MPs voting in favour.

Today, I return fire on registry critics.

Long guns aren't a problem? In 2008 a full 17 per cent of all homicides with firearms were committed using rifles and shotguns -- that's 34 deaths, Statistics Canada reports.

Rural Canadians can handle their guns?
In non-urban areas rifles and shotguns were responsible for 48 per cent of all firearm homicides.

And surprisingly, rural residents are at higher, not lower, risk of being a homicide victim than city dwellers.

When it comes to who the killers are -- rural or urban -- the statistics are disturbing: in 70 solved homicides in 2008, 40 per cent of victims were killed by an acquaintance and 33 per cent by a family member, while just 17 per cent of deaths were at the hands of strangers.

The registry isn't effective? Since the registry was passed in 1995, homicides by rifles and shotguns have dropped by nearly 50 per cent, while handgun deaths are up and non-firearms homicides are down slightly.

Last year 1,833 firearms licences were revoked and 462 firearms licences were refused, Firearms' Commissioner William Elliott report to Parliament stated.

Number one reason for revoking firearms licenses -- 75 per cent of them? "
Court-ordered prohibition or probation." Yes, 1,366 revocations last year alone were because a court ordered someone not to possess firearms -- gee, maybe they had a criminal problem.

And another 201 applications were refused
for the same reason.

What are the second-through-seventh biggest reasons for revocation or refusal of a firearms license? "Potential risk to others; potential risk to self; mental health; violent; drug offences; domestic violence."

Or look at Firearms Interest Police reports, which checks if a licence holder has been the subject of a police incident report by checking the registry.

That only happened
102,841 times last year, including over 12,000 in B.C. alone.

Perhaps the information in the Commissioner's report is why Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan
didn't want to release it to Parliament until two days after the vote.

Registered long guns are hardly ever used in crime? A number of Conservative MPs have information on their website using two-year-old stats claiming that of 2,441 homicides between 2003 and 2007, under two pe rcent -- or 47 -- were committed using registered rifles or shotguns.

Up to date statistics are not readily available, but logic is. First, 47 homicides in five years with registered long guns is not insignificant.

Second, as the registry continues to revoke and refuse long gun registration to criminals and others, as seen above, the homicide rate should drop.

Third, if stolen guns are used in a crime they can be traced through the registry -- see an example below -- meaning criminals will increasingly avoid using registered long guns.

Does it work? Here's one example from the report: "The Canadian Firearms Program provided support to an RCMP detachment, assisting with a Criminal Code of Canada warrant to recover firearms from a subject who had reportedly pointed a rifle at a co-worker and threatened to kill him."

"[It] confirmed the suspect had... nine long guns registered in his name. A warrant was granted and executed, resulting in the recovery of all nine long guns, including the suspect firearm and a quantity of ammunition."

Or this one: "Canadian Firearms Program provided support to an RCMP detachment after a suspect was stopped with four non-restricted 'long guns' in his vehicle. The suspect was evasive when questioned, leading investigators to believe the firearms had been stolen... checks on the recovered firearms determined all four were registered to a local resident and not the person who was in possession of them.

"The registered owner, who was working out of town, was contacted by police and said that, as far as he was aware, all of his firearms were safely stored at his residence. Police attended the owner's residence and discovered evidence confirming that his residence had been broken into and that all 16 of his long guns had been stolen. Subsequent investigation resulted in the recovery of the remaining 12 long guns from the suspect."

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is "biased" and "political"? A ridiculous argument but let's hear from police chief Mike Osborne of Midland, Ontario with a population of 16,000 -- in other words a small town chief, not Toronto's.

"If we’re en route and we know a person has firearms -- you always try to be cautious anyway -- but it just gives you that added information. We do use it when we attend residences to help us gauge what the threat level is," Osborne said. "I do, regardless of whether it's a handgun or a long-gun, see the value of the registry."

"To scrap it now would almost seem like a real waste of the millions that have already been spent," he said. "There's some value in making people feel responsible for their firearms in a way that makes them store and secure them properly, so that was one of the positive things that came out of this whole system.

"It changed people's attitudes about gun and ammunition storage. It put some tough laws in place that regular gun owners are more likely to secure their firearms so they're not being stolen or misused so often," he said, adding it also provided tougher licensing and training for firearms.

"People had to really want a firearm for a particular purpose... and I believe that made them take gun ownership more seriously," Osborne concluded.

Others argued that "rank and file" police oppose the registry. But that argument is completely bogus. Only one, repeat, one police union has publicly opposed the long gun registry -- the Saskatchewan Police Federation, representing 1,100 municipal officers.

But Yves Francoeur, the head of Montreal's 4,700-member police union says the registry is essential and can't believe people are complaining about registering rifles.

"We have to register our vehicles, we have to register our properties, we have to register our trailers and we shouldn't have to register our guns?" Francouer asked. "It doesn't make any sense."
Don't polls show opposition to the registry? A new Harris-Decima
poll last week said 46 per cent of those surveyed said getting rid of the registry was a good idea, while 41 per cent thought it would be a bad idea.

But an Ipsos-Reid poll in 2006 found 67 per cent supported having a gun registry.

And even in the Harris-Decima poll, 44 per cent of urban residents oppose killing the registry versus 42 per cent who want it gone. Only in Conservative-held ridings are a majority in favour of abolishing it.

The reality is that the former federal Liberal government's incompetence in creating the registry at great cost in the first place has biased many against it, even though the current annual budget is just $8.4 million and getting rid of it now won't recover the money already spent -- but will waste it.

Lastly, some critics thought it was great that the NDP leader Jack Layton and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff allowed a "free vote" that let 12 NDP and eight Liberal MPs from rural ridings to vote to kill the registry.

How political parties failed us

Political parties exist with platforms and policies to give voters clear choices that distinguish one from another. Like it or not -- and some don't -- most voters decide to cast their ballot based on the party and leader, not the local MP.

And party members and donors join and fund their choice of party based on its ideological perspective and goals -- not because it has hundreds of candidates for office who all hold different views on important issues.

That's why many New Democratic and Liberal supporters were appalled by the free vote -- they feel the gun registry is a fundamental value question, not a minor one where a free vote has little consequence.

Jack Layton was a founder of the White Ribbon Committee in Canada, a group of men working to end violence against women. It was created after the Montreal Ecole Polytechnique massacre on December 6, 1989.

And Layton promised he would let provinces implement an "absolute ban" on all handguns -- something I oppose -- in the last federal election campaign.

How does Layton square those positions with letting a third of his NDP caucus vote to kill the long gun registry?

Ignatieff told Liberals in just April of this year his caucus would block Prime Minister Stephen Harper from killing the gun registry: "We won't let him. We won't pass his bills."

But now he has done exactly that.

Both leaders face serious credibility questions on the gun registry -- and both are getting a backlash for their new positions from supporters.

And so they should.

But as I said last week, there is still time for Canadians who support the long gun registry to influence the final vote by MPs.

Contact Layton, Ignatieff and other MPs to let them know it is a vote-determining issue for you -- it's the only way to save the registry -- and save lives.



Anonymous said...

This says it all, Bill:

Long guns aren't a problem? In 2008 a full 17 per cent of all homicides with firearms were committed using rifles and shotguns -- that's 34 deaths....

34 deaths out of 30 plus million people, not only are long guns not worth the cost, any cost, of regulating, that can be expanded to most firearms. Every dollar wasted on the type of firearm regulation that we have in this country is a dollar taken away from solving problems in more serious areas with a much higher mortality ratio.

I have been following this issue for years, and the one thing that is apparent is that the gun control supporters can only make their case by cherry picking facts out of context.

Firearms regulation is a good idea, but not in anyway that has been proposed. Forget tracking a zillion firearms. Require people who possess them to have a firearms permit for firearms by class, like we have driver's licences, not keyed to any particular firearm, just like a driver's licence is not keyed to any particular vehicle. Have very stiff mandatory penalties for anyone caught in possession without a permit.

Anonymous said...

Bill, all I can see from your article is ANGRY. You can't wait to fight back due to the lack of support from your previous post so you are citing all the information you can get but very dis-organized and most don't even relevant.

Are you talking about registry or the licence system?

Firearm licence system is the only thing provides safety to the community because it filters out those unsuitable people from owning firearms.

Firearm registry only provide the information that what and how many firearms the person has lawfully in prosession.

All the examples and info you used in the article are aiming at licence.

Once the licence system failed to filter out a protetial risk, registry or not doesn't really matter because this individual has the ability to obtain a firearm already.

If a police officer wants to determine the risk before responding a call, he/she just needs to know if any firearm licence presents. When a firearm licence presents, will it make any difference to know how many or what type of firearms this person owns? I guess not.

I support registry. It is a very good tool to determine the lawful ownership, but it's certainly not a tool to provide safety to the community, instead, the firearm licence system is.

Bill, the biggest problem is that you label all the firearm owners as a potential risk. This is totally wrong.

In BC, it is very hard to get a driver licence. It is a such long process, but, how come there are still so many bad drivers? Should we do something about the vehicle onwership as well? Everyone who owns a car should be treated as a criminal because car is such a dangerous weapon. It can cause multiple death with only one hit.

When a system (licence) failed to do its job well, we need to fix the system instead of blaming the innocents.

Chris said...

See how your MP voted:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding to your critics. The tone and content of many of the comments attacking your column, the long gun registry, you personally, or whatever, I found disturbing but even more reason to have a long gun registry.

kootcoot said...

"We have to register our vehicles, we have to register our properties, we have to register our trailers"

Why stop with guns, when do we need to start registering our penis, subject to proper storage and take a course in proper use?

Rod Smelser said...

Here are links to two articles from the Georgia Straight published in the summer months of 2001 which bear on the politics of the gun registry:

Dewdney-Alouette: Mike Bocking (NDP)
“The federal Liberal government's handling of the gun registry will doom the chances of consultant Blanche Juneau.”

Rich Coleman's drug war overlooks the gun problem
“We live in a gun culture where popular musicians like 50 Cent and D12 celebrate violence. We live in a society where too many people think respect comes from carrying weapons, not from a decent job or contributing to their community."

Rod Smelser said...

Sorry, I mean to say they were from 2004. Eyesight issues.

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read that article. Thank author for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

zeister said...

Mr. T cannot tell the difference between results brought about through licensing and those through registration. Bill C-391 ONLY ends the registration of long guns. The rest of the Firearms Act is left intact including personal screening, training & storage requirements. Firearms deaths are statistically minor in comparison to vehicular deaths. This stat is more emotion and propaganda than it is a significant concern.

Bans fail in every circumstance and yet this is the extent of Mr. T's understanding. There is no practical difference between banning firearms through legislation/Orders in Council and police seizing firearms from an owner whose paperwork is not in order. Under the Firearms Act both citizens and criminals are suspect.

Mr. T. and his sort stand for cultural cleansing in the way they pursue gun control. He wastes his time arguing with those he would dispossess. Record and anonymous have hit the nail on the head.

The Liberals and their supporters confuse the issues of crime control and gun control. A registry that represents perhaps 50% of Canadian firearms will always be a broken tool that cannot be fixed. Ignoring that reality makes all other arguments irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Again Bill, you've failed to acknowledge the fact that in your last column you condemned MPs who voted how their constituents wanted, yet at the end you implore people to contact their MPs to vote in favor of keeping the registry.

You create an illusion of wanting people to get involved in the process to influence government policy while at the same time condemning those who get involved in a way that you don't want.

Bill Tieleman said...

Zeister bizarrely claims that I and "my sort" stand for "cultural cleansing" - all because I want all guns in Canada to be registered!

These are the kind of ridiculous arguments that undermine those who oppose the registry.

Other arguments here at the Tyee include: "gun crimes have been going down since the 1970s" so the reduction in long gun homicides is meaningless.

Wrong. Read the 2008 StatsCan report linked above and you will find this line: "The rate of firearm homicides has increased 24% since 2002, including a 5% increase in 2008. About 6 in 10 firearm related homicides were committed with a handgun in 2008."

Firearms homicides up by a quarter since 2002 but rifle and shotgun homicides are down - leaving the handgun responsible for the increase.

We can argue whether or not the long gun registry is the sole or a major reason but what's clear is that use of long guns is diminishing.

On the difference between gun licensing and gun registration - of course there's a difference.

But when someone has their license revoked - especially for "criminal" or probation reasons - I want all their guns taken away too. Without a registry, how would police know how many guns the owner in questions had.

And anticipating counter arguments - yes, the owner could have unregistered firearms too. But someone with a criminal record might be a lot more careful about getting caught with illegal guns and no license.

Taking some of the other arguments here to their conclusion - why register cars? Just issue drivers licenses and don't worry about it.

If we register cars and pets, surely registering guns isn't such a crazy idea.

Bill Tieleman said...

Anonymous 2:03 - I want the two political parties whose leaders and most MPs say they oppose killing the gun registry to use majority rule in their caucuses and parties.

I certainly want Canadians to tell their MPs and leaders what their position is on the gun registry - if a majority of NDP and Liberal supporters want to kill the gun registry, so be it - but right now a small minority of both caucuses is helping the Conservatives do what I believe most NDP and Liberal voters do NOT want.

zeister said...

What has changed in Canada that suddenly registration is so important? Well we do have problems with drugs and smuggling that we did not have say 50 years ago. And we do have Liberals that have turned ignorance and fear of firearms into votes and we do have an expensive and ineffectual long gun registry.

Now how does this justify registering all LEGAL firearms when law abiding ownership has NO impact on the aforementioned problems?

Mr. T is still unconvincing. He is certainly too young to know what life was like in the 50s & 60s in Toronto. We were awash with surplus military firearms, including automatics and endless cheap ammunition. There was no gun problem nor were there gang shootouts with machine guns. The red herring of the registry is just to get our minds off the fact that government (mostly Liberal) has failed to deal with the social problems that come with massive societal changes. Nor have the violent urban gangs, who are the market for smuggled guns, been suppressed. Border control was a laugh and only the Conservatives are now making an effort to counter past Liberal cuts to programs that have made the present problems possible.

I voted solidly Liberal for most of my adult life but I now feel betrayed by them. Let this failed program die.

P.S. The Liberals never allowed a cost/benefit analysis to be done contrary to their own Treasury Board rules. The Liberals also did everything possible to hide the real costs of the long gun registry. These two facts alone damn the long gun registry.

Anonymous said...

is that a gun on you're post,or are you just happy to see me?

Anonymous said...

Oh man I'd better not shoot, my gun is registered,How asinine is that I ask you?And even if the ass**** that shot those women in Montreal,had his gun registered,how would that of helped,they used the blood of those poor women to justify another ripoff of the taxpayer so get off it Bill!!!!

Maureen said...

Really glad you are writing about this Bill and people should not mistake that the few people posting supporting your position means a lack of support for the registry. More people support it than those who don't like to think.

Finally, people should know that C-391 not only would dismantle the registry it would eliminate 8 million firearms records. As the president Montreal's police officers union said - 95% of Quebec's registered firearms would be erased. I don't know about you, but I'd really like the police to know that nutty neighbour of mine down the street has a firearm if they're ever called to his house for some disturbance...

Rod Smelser said...

Normally I would simply provide a link to this article, but the Globe and Mail site no longer carries it as far as I can tell.

The only on-line sources consist of copies of the article on websites run by zealous extremists, and there are more than enough of those on this issue.

This is the first of two parts because of length:

A gang that couldn't shoot straight

The Liberals' gun registry program was pointed at Kim Campbell, not crime. That's why it shot itself in the foot, says former justice adviser JOHN DIXON

The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, January 8, 2003

We now know that the government's gun-control policy is a fiscal and administrative debacle. Its costs rival those of core services like national defence. And it doesn't work. What is less well known is that the policy wasn't designed to control guns. It was designed to control Kim Campbell.

When Ms. Campbell was enjoying a brief season of success in her re-election bid in the summer campaign of 1993, Mr. Chrétien was kept busy reassuring what he called the "Nervous Nellies" in his caucus that Ms. Campbell's star would soon fall. To bring her down, the Liberals planned to discredit her key accomplishment as minister of justice, an ambitious gun-control package.

Those measures -- enacted in the wake of the Montreal Massacre -- included new requirements for the training and certification of target shooters and hunters. We got new laws requiring: the safe storage of firearms and ammunition, which essentially brought every gun in the country under lock and key; screening of applicants for firearms licences; courts to actively seek information about firearms in spousal assault cases; the prohibition of firearms that had no place in Canada's field-and-stream tradition of firearms use.

I was one of the department of justice officials involved in that earlier gun-control program. When the House of Commons passed the legislation, Wendy Cukier and Heidi Rathgen of the Coalition for Gun Control, which had been part of the consultation process, supplied the champagne for a party at my Ottawa home.

So what were the Liberals to do, faced with a legislative accomplishment on this scale?

Rod Smelser said...

This is the second of three parts (sorry, thought it would be only two):

Simple: Pretend it hadn't happened, and promise to do something so dramatic that it would make Ms. Campbell look soft on gun control. The obvious policy choice was a universal firearms registry.

The idea of requiring the registration of every firearm in the country wasn't new. Governments love lists. Getting lists and maintaining them is a visible sign that the government is at work. And lists are the indispensable first step to collecting taxes and licence fees. There is no constitutional right to bear arms in Canada, as is arguably the case in the United States.

So why not go for a universal gun registry? The short answer, arrived at by every study in the Department of Justice, was that universal registration would be ruinously expensive, and could actually yield a negative public security result (more on this in a moment). Besides, in 1992 Canada already had two systems of gun registration: the complete registry of all restricted firearms, such as handguns (restricted since the 1930s) and a separate registry of ordinary firearms.

This latter registry, which started in the early 1970s, was a feature of the firearms acquisition certificate (or FAC) required by a person purchasing any firearm. Every firearm purchased from a dealer had to be registered to the FAC holder by the vendor, and the record of the purchase passed on to the RCMP in Ottawa. So we were already building a cumulative registry of all the owners of guns in Canada purchased since 1970.

The FAC system was a very Canadian (i.e. sensible) approach to the registration of ordinary hunting and target firearms. If you were a good ol' boy from Camrose, Alta., and didn't want to get involved, you didn't have to -- as long as you didn't buy more guns. Good ol' boys die off, so younger people in shooting sports would eventually all be enrolled in the system.

After the Montreal Massacre, the then-deputy minister of justice, John Tait, asked me to review the gun-control package under development. One thing I immediately wanted to know was how many Canadians owned Ruger Mini-14s (the gun used by the Montreal murderer). The Mini-14 came into production about the time the FAC system was introduced, so the FAC should have a good picture of the gun's distribution.

But when our team asked the RCMP for the information, we couldn't get it. Computers were down; the information hadn't been entered yet; there weren't enough staff to process the request; there was a full moon. After a week, I said I didn't want excuses, I wanted the records. Then a very senior person sat me down and told me the truth.

The RCMP had stopped accepting FAC records, and had actually destroyed those it already had. The FAC registry system didn't exist because the police thought it was useless and refused to waste their limited budgets maintaining it. They also moved to ensure that their political masters could not resurrect it.

Such spectacular bureaucratic vandalism persuaded my deputy and his minister to concentrate on developing compliance with affordable gun-control measures that could work. A universal gun registry could only appeal to people who didn't care about costs or results, and who didn't understand what riled up decent folks in Camrose.

Rod Smelser said...

This is the third of three parts

Which is precisely why it appealed to those putting together the Liberal Red Book for the pivotal 1993 election. If the object of the policy exercise was to appear to be "tougher" on guns than Kim Campbell, they had to find a policy that would provoke legitimate gun-owners to outrage. Nothing would better convince the Liberals' urban constituency that Jean Chrétien and Allan Rock were taking a tough line on guns than the spectacle of angry old men spouting fury on Parliament Hill.

The supreme irony of the gun registry battle is that the policy was selected because it would goad people who knew something about guns to public outrage. That is, it had a purely political purpose in the special context of a hard-fought election. The fact that it was bad policy was crucial to the specific political effect it was supposed to deliver.

And so we saw demonstrations by middle-aged firearm owners, family men whose first reflex was to respect the laws of the land. This group's political alienation is a far greater loss than the $200-million that have been wasted so far. The creation of this new criminal class -- the ultimate triumph of negative political alchemy -- may be the worst, and most enduring product of the gun registry culture war.

John Dixon is a hunter, and president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. From 1991 to 1992, he was adviser to then-deputy minister of justice John Tait.

I have bolded two portions that I think need special emphasis.

Anonymous said...

Once Again Bill you have missd the mark. You acknowledge That the vast majority of gun crimes are committed with handguns. Handguns have been covered by a registry since well before we were both born. Next you quote Stats Canada as saying that firearms homicides have increased 24% since 2002 . Well if handguns have been registered since the 1930's and their use in homicides has been increasing then you are making a pretty good argument that registration DOESN'T work. Try again Bill. But please leave out comments by Bill Blair or Dr Carolyn Snider or any other Chicken Little who thinks the sky is falling. As Dr. Snider said `We will witness the tragic consequences of this bill`. Well I do not believe we were in a state of tragedy prior to the gun registration fiasco.

Mark Crawford said...

I basically agree with you Bill--even if there is something about the cost of the registry or its application to rural citizens that is somewhat "scandalous" , that does not obviate the Registry itself. I detect the drift of American political culture across the border in some of these debates.

zeister said...

Thank you Mr. Smeiser for setting the stage. The whole history of the Firearms Act is about as sordid as any political program past or present.

Canadians from all sections of the country have come to the conclusion the long gun registry must go (as shown in all surveys in the past two years). Yes, opposition MPs voted with the government to pass the 2nd reading. We elect MPs to represent us. Frankly, I am sick of whipped votes. Mr. T talks about a majority of opposition MPs. Think about what a small section of the electorate this is - less than 50% of all eligible voters. Shall we rightly call it the tyranny of the minority?

Much of what Mr. T refers to quite simply highlights the failures of the gun registry to prevent crime as in the case of Montreal and Meyerthorpe or the countless gang killings.

There has been no real response here in defense of the gun registry. Specific points are ignored when unanswerable to the favour of the registry.

The CFC and the RCMP have compromised the privacy of the records in a worse case scenario.

I suppose Mr. T's support is driven by a political agenda rather than by fair appraisal of the program. No amount of facts or argument will sway the true believers.

Denying the historic culture of firearms ownership in Canada may be Liberal but it sure is not the fact for millions of Canadians that live it.

The facts of the failures have not been refuted. Wishing it so does not make it so. How many years of an expensive failure do we need to bear to bring everyone together, 25, 35, 50?

In conclusion, there is no new defense of the gun registry here. Just more of the same old combined with a blind belief.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you use Yves Francouer of the Montreal Police Union as an example of how the police back the gun registry but here's an average comment from the nutbar Mr. Francouer...

"Our job, as police officers, is repression. We don't need a social worker as a Director, we need a general. After all, the police is a paramilitary organization, let's not forget it."

Nice. A clear and obvious wingnut. And one who's stated aim is repression. What the hell?

Citizen Oliver

Bill Tieleman said...

To "Citizen Oliver" and all readers - I strongly suggest you check out his website: "Christian Taxpayer Free Press" where you will find this description of his mission:

"There is a war being waged by Satan-inspired ruling elites determined to destroy the way of life and system of values of We The People.

They wage this war so that they can pursue their criminal agenda unhindered by anyone devoted to the concepts of law and justice. Our purpose is to expose these criminals and see that they're brought to justice."

I think I'll just stick with the stated views of the Montreal police union president in my column versus the above, despite the possibility I have foolishly allied myself with the spawn of Satan.

I rest my case, your honour.

Anonymous said...


I think your comments about how majorities in each party should over rule minorities says a lot about the overbearing mentality that created the registry in the first place.

Had Alan Rock shown any pragmatic political skills, this issue could have been resolved at the time, and we would not be facing a majority Harper government. New Democrats could have argued for a compromise or consensus, but didn't.

This was a case of angry people imposing bad policy on a (then) unpopular minority.

You can quote all the statistics you want, but the vast majority of gun owners commit no violence against women whatsoever, yet feel they have taken the weight of blame for what is done by a tiny.

Many focus on the guns themselves, but few ever talk about the intrusive questionaire which goes along with the registration process, which is based entirely on assumptions which seem reasonable on the face, but which are not supported by the science.

Rod Smelser said...

" I detect the drift of American political culture across the border in some of these debates."

No kidding, eh Mark!

As the article by Dixon explains, the importation of American "cultural politics" can be found on the pro-registry side of this issue just as easily as on the anti-registry side.

It's either amusing or infuriating, depending on your mood, to hear one side of this discussion angrily and sanctimoniously accuse the other of gutless political pandering ... and then go on to cite public opinion polls reporting some majority or plurality favouring their position.

Personally I would put that kind of thing right up there with being told by a car salesman that the dealer two blocks down the road is dishonest!

zeister said...

Canada is a culturally pluralistic society. One of our cultures is the ancient activity of hunting and fishing which includes private firearms ownership. Our Constitution is supposed to protect the individual's right to private property and yet we are faced with the situation that through legislation (the Firearms Act) private property in the form of firearms has been and continues to be confiscated without compensation.

It is even more unusual in that a Liberal government brought in the Act and supporting regulations!

Constitutions are living documents and grow through Amendments. In 1982 firearms were not a political issue. Hence, it is not surprising that the culture of firearms was not mentioned. That right pre-existed Canada and had been understood until Liberal governments denied it and sought to erase the culture by a concentrated attack on that law abiding minority.

Many urbanites are ignorant of the history and meaning of the 'gun' culture of Canada and for various reasons are willing to extinguish it. This flys in the face of what multiculturalism is supposed to mean.

The Montreal Police Union is but one vote for a registry. Mr. T is still cherry picking with this example. Quebec attitudes are frequently out of step with the rest of the country.

Supporting political bodies like the Chiefs Association with their history of donations may satisfy Mr. T but more discriminating Canadians will recognise them for what they are - an executive pimping a position that is based on self-interest more than it is on science.

Canadian courts frequently refer to American precedents but that does not mean our firearms culture is the same as the American gun culture.

Ignorance and fear of firearms is no basis for opinion. Neither is false science, fear mongering and propaganda a just basis for legislation. Bad law is bad law and only brings disrepute on the political parties or government that champion it. In the final analysis that is why the long gun registry must go.

DPL said...

Sounds sort of like the NRA's position on the "right to bear arms". I really wonder if the folks here who write about how we don't need a registry because way back when,there wasn't a registry, or are they taking a position because the past Liberal governemtn had brought one in. The old saw about the right to hunt, and protect ourselves from some animal or person is a bit heavy for me personally.Yes there are gun clubs and ranges that are licensed to handle guns, yet some folks here either don't see that as an issue, or choose to ignore it. Lots of folks joined the military and some even shot and killed others. Interesting to me , is that my family members who were doing such things in the army, never were seen picking up a gun again. Mind you npbpdy in our immediae circel of freinds are in business trying to sell the things. Lots of things can kill people, but ones really exist for one purpose and that is to kill something and with any kind of luck, while shooting at something, they miss us. But this argument won't go away until the bill finally fails. as for cost, well our present government spends more money bailing out failing companies that the gun registry so let's put things in perspective.

Mark Crawford said...

For me, there are no philosophical reasons to scrap the long gun registry. SO whether to scrap the registry may boil down to an empirical question. Is most of the money 'wasted' so far a sunk cost, for which we can only hope to recover some benefit by keeping it in place? Or will it continue to cost billions, which could be re-deployed more effectively elsewhere?

Rod Smelser said...

It looks like Bill Tieleman's wishes in terms of a whipped vote on this matter may becoming true, at least for the Liberals.

It seems that Bob Rae, oen of the two turncoat NDP Premiers, didn't like the fact that eight Liberals voted in favour of C391.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 2:02 PM

Liberals get 'realistic' on gun-registry

Jane Taber

Michael Ignatieff is reconsidering his decision to allow his MPs to vote however they wish on private member’s bills after the fiasco of the long-gun registry vote.

In caucus today, the Liberal Leader told his MPs that he is “taking under advisement” the recommendation by the Liberal Whip Rodger Cuzner to “control private member’s votes,” according to an inside source.

Mr. Ignatieff made his comments after an intervention by Toronto Liberal MP Bob Rae, warning of the divisive nature of issue. It is believed that the Harper Tories are using this as a wedge to disrupt the unity of the Liberal caucus.

The long-gun registry bill is now before an all-party Commons committee and Mr. Rae urged his colleagues to be “politically realistic,” said the source, about putting forward amendments that may not pass.

He said that there is “no need” to do “great heroics” or “climb mountains” to try to push through amendments. He said that this issue can cause “internal damage” to the party, the insider said.

Mr. Rae, meanwhile, had this to say after the weekly closed-door party meeting: “I absolutely refuse to comment on anything said in caucus – my views on gun control are well known. I am a supporter of the registry. Period.”

Anonymous said...

Bill ,I know this is a little off topic....,but barry penner is he Bubbles from the trailer park boys,in contact lenses?

Rod Smelser said...

SO whether to scrap the registry may boil down to an empirical question.

Mark, you might find some interesting empirical material in this article, from the website of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). It's an article by James Sheptycki, a Prof of Criminology at York Univ.

One thing I found particulalry interesting was his Fig 3, showing rates of deaths caused by firearms from 1976 to 2006.

Here is the accompanying section of the text:

"What these data reveal is that, amid a long-term downward trend in homicide generally (Figure 2), murders committed with so-called ‘long-guns’ (rifles and shotguns) declined uite precipitously. However, from about 1991 handguns surpassed long-guns in homicide statistics prevalence in Canada (Figure 3). What this Figure shows, using data available in 2006, is that after three years of increases, the gun-homicide rate decreased 16 per cent to about the same level as 20 years previously. In that year, 190 people (31% of homicide victims) were killed with a gun, 33 fewer than the previous year. The longer-term trend in gun-homicide shows a general decline since the mid-1970s, similar to the trend in total homicides. After the ‘cross-over’ in 1991 the rate of handgun homicide remained relatively constant while the homicide rate for long-guns continued its historic decline."

Henri Paul said...

"We believe that the gun registry provides police services across this country with the information they need, first of all to help us keep communities safe, and also to keep police officers safe," Blair said. "We lose it at our peril."

Bill, The upper paragraph is from your Nov10/09 write up favoring the Gun Registry.
The following paragraph pertains to what is occurring in N. W.T. today. Just how actually "safe" and "effective" is the gun registry? Ask the wife of this young Mountie.

A jury in Yellowknife began deliberating Wednesday Nov.18/09 in the trial of a man accused of killing an RCMP officer in Hay River, N.W.T.
Emrah Bulatci, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Const. Christopher Worden in Hay River on Oct. 6, 2007.
Rod Smelser said... 1:58 PM
It looks like Bill Tieleman's wishes in terms of a whipped vote on this matter may becoming true, at least for the Libs In caucus. the Count told his MPs that he is “taking under advisement” the recommendation by the Liberal Whip Rodger Cuzner to “control private member’s votes,” according to an inside source.

Is this what you want Tieleman , eliminate all the MPs votes, then run the country using only the leaders , Harper,The Count,Layton, Duceppe.

Mark Crawford said...

Re: statistical decline--In other words the demographic factors (declining proportion of young males) and improved law enforcement & crime detection is having predictable effects in the area of long guns but is being offset by something else when it comes to handguns. In BC, one is inclined to imagine that that something else is the rise of organized drug crime and gangs, who have smuggled handguns in to the country.

Rod Smelser said...

In the column above, Bill says:

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is "biased" and "political"? A ridiculous argument ...

Here is the first of two parts of an article from the Globe and Mail:

Police ethics adviser quits over sponsors

Concerns over role of companies like Taser International in funding
lavish conferences were rebuffed, he says


The Globe and Mail, April 8, 2009

The technical adviser to the ethics committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has resigned over corporate sponsorship - including that of Taser International - of the group's annual conference.

John Jones, an expert on police ethics who has advised the committee for three years, quit Thursday after the committee's efforts to stop the practice was rebuffed by the board of directors.

"I said in that case, I can't remain a member," a saddened Dr. Jones, the author of Reputable Conduct: Ethical Issues in Policing and Corrections, told The Globe and Mail in a phone interview yesterday from his Ottawa home. " doesn't pass the smell test."

The CACP is composed of police chiefs and senior police executives from across Canada and represents most of the country's 220-plus forces.

Dr. Jones and the members of the ethics committee were in Montreal in
August for two days of meetings around the CACP's annual conference when they learned about Taser's sponsorship and that of others, including a joint Bell Mobility-CGI-Group Techna donation of $115,000, which went toward the purchase of 1,000 tickets at $215 each to a Celine Dion concert on Aug. 25.

Each registered CACP delegate received one ticket as part of his $595
registration package; if his spouse was also registered for the spouses' program, she or he received another. Virtually all meals were
also sponsored.

The ethics members raised the sponsorship issue with the CACP executive committee in mid-conference - "expressed our surprise and dismay" is how the genteel Dr. Jones put it - but later followed up with a formal request for the committee co-chairs to speak to the full board of directors.

Rod Smelser said...

Here is the second part of the April 8, 2009 Christie Blatchford article:

That meeting happened in November, and by December the CACP's executive director, Peter Cuthbert, replied by memo on behalf of the board, basically thanking the committee members for their concerns, but repeating that the board was satisfied the association was abiding by its sponsorship guidelines.

It was at the committee's first meeting of the new year last week in Ottawa that Mr. Cuthbert's memo was read aloud, prompting Dr. Jones to walk away from his voluntary position.

While he said he was told by senior members of the committee that Taser gave $200,000 to the 2008 conference, Mr. Cuthbert is adamant the manufacturers of the controversial "conducted energy weapons," as the CACP prefers to call them, contributed only $25,000.

But he also said that over the past three years, taser has kicked in a total of $75,000 for conference sponsorship.

Mr. Cuthbert was insistent there is nothing wrong with the sponsorship practice, and said that part of the association's job is to bring to the attention of the chiefs "the products and tools that are available to a police service." He then suggested that Taser was only one maker of "conducted energy weapons," but, when pressed, admitted he knew of no other and said, "I guess Taser is the only name out there."

According to Mr. Cuthbert, the total corporate sponsorship of last
year's conference - by, among others, Power Corporation, the Canadian
Bankers Association, Loto-Québec, Microsoft, Motorola and the RCMP,
ironic given that it means the Mounties shared the platform with the very product whose use has brought the force into such disrepute in the Robert Dziekanski incident - topped $500,000.

The RCMP sponsors only the professional development part of the conference program.

One of Mr. Cuthbert's defences for the association accepting sponsorships is the CACP does "no buying, no endorsement, no promotion" of any products, including sponsors', and makes no "binding

But in fact, just six weeks ago the CACP held a press conference in Ottawa with the Canadian Police Association to announce what they called "the police position on Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs)" and issued both a position document and a press release.

The groups said they were acting out of concern that "inaccurate and
incomplete" media reporting about the weapons may have led to public misunderstanding and in effect gave CEWs their blessing.

In January, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino, a CACP member, spoke at an association workshop on CEWs and gave the weapon an even more ringing endorsement, and denounced the "irresponsible journalism" surrounding the issue.

Mr. Fantino was at least more direct: he called a spade a spade and used both terms, CEWs and tasers, to describe the weapon.

When Mr. Cuthbert was asked if it wouldn't have been better for the
CACP to have publicly praised tasers with clean hands, he disagreed,
and said, "Other than that, I tell you, with the board, it was not an
issue ... the board was very, very comfortable with this."

But Dr. Jones told The Globe that most of the ethics committee members had concerns about the sponsorships, not just Taser's, which is why it sent committee co-chairs, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Sandra
Conlin, her force's ethics adviser, and Edmonton Deputy Chief Norm
Lipinski, to the board meeting. That, he said, was a measure of the
committee's concern.

Rod Smelser said...

Here is the third part of the April 8 2009 article by Christie Blatchford:

But Dr. Jones told The Globe that most of the ethics committee
members had concerns about the sponsorships, not just Taser's, which
is why it sent committee co-chairs, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Sandra
Conlin, her force's ethics adviser, and Edmonton Deputy Chief Norm
Lipinski, to the board meeting. That, he said, was a measure of the
committee's concern.

Mr. Conlin referred The Globe to Mr. Lipinski, saying he was the
ethics committee spokesman. He was out of town and didn't return The
Globe's call.

Dr. Jones, who at 66 has spent several decades of his career
lecturing and consulting about ethical conduct, particularly in
policing, also recently resigned as an adviser to the International
Association of Chiefs of Police.

He rued how the CACP conferences have become increasingly "gaudy"
affairs, with each host city trying to outdo the other, with members
expecting bigger and better freebies. Indeed, Mr. Cuthbert's own
figures - he said it now costs between $800,000 and $1-million to hold
such conferences - back up Dr. Jones' perception.

Asked why the chiefs and senior police executives don't just finance
their own conferences, Dr. Jones replied, "That's what we'd like."

He said there was "a shocking disconnect" between the lavish
conferences for senior police and their increasing demands upon their
rank-and-file that they refuse even a free coffee from the local
doughnut store. "People now want their leaders to walk the talk," he

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bill Tielman 100%.

And just why is the gun lobby so vociferous about their "right" to own an unregistered firearm? Why own a firearm at all?

Does it make these people feel more manly or womanly? Does it give them a great sense of power?

The gun lobby will argue we need guns for self-defense, but never present evidence that this is necessary. With 35 million people in the country, such a self defense event may occur every few years. Very rare events do not justify that argument.

The fact is there are no good reasons for owning a gun other than subsistence hunting. Ban them all.

Anonymous said...

The purges in Russia happened before gun control was brought in. Lack of gun control didn't stop the purges.

There was no gun control when the Bolsheviks seized power. But that would hurt your argument wouldn't it?

In Germany Hitler had already consolidated power and used his gun toting buddies to rid Germany of opposition to his power. Again, perhaps if there had been gun control Hitler's brownshirts never could have intimidated the population in the first place.

Same with China, who cared about gun control when the peasants didn't have enough money to buy guns anyway?

As for Switzerland, they were more help to Hitler by not invading them. Switzerland was pretty much a client-state of Germany's where high ranking Germans stored their loot. Read "Nazi Gold". If Hitler had felt any need to conquer Switzerland he could have bombed its cities and with no borders with any country not allied to Germany, the Swiss would have been reduced by starvation and disease.

Anonymous said...

An evaluation of the Firearms Program is in the works- why not see what it concludes. Hopefully, it will make it to the House Committee in time, and the RCMP Commissioner will be compelled to testify.

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous regarding world history.

Regarding Germany. Do you think that the course of history might have been changed if the German people had the means to stand up to the Nazis? Unfortunately we can only speculate, but it certainly did not help that the people of Germany were all effectively disarmed by gun control measures prior to the Nazis seizing complete control.

Regarding Switzerland. Prior to WW2 The Swiss people were largely agrarian. Bombing cities to starve them or defeat them with disease would have been ineffective. Think about it. A largely rural population that prodces much of its own food, lives in rough, steep terrain and is well armed and trained. Not worth the cost to invade.

In Russia you just have your facts incorrect. The Great (Stalin) purge happened 1937-1938 thirty years after the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution. But conveniently after the Russian population had been disarmed.

In China the peasant population had been relieved of any method of defending themselves prior to the Chinese Communist rounding up million of people and executing them. A well armed Chinese poulation would have stood a far better chance at surviving than what actually happened to them.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think that the course of history might have been changed if the German people had the means to stand up to the Nazis?"

No. It was said Hitler brought in gun control in 1939. That was 6 years after he had taken power. The communists, gypsies and Jews were already in the concentration camps, the Anchluss with Austria had already occurred as had the partition of Czechoslovakia and the occupation of the Rhineland and the massive rearnament.

Perhaps the Germans would have had a better chance of stopping the Nazis if there had been gun control back when they started their street level intimidation tactics. At least then Roehm's brownshirts, later the SA, wouldn't have been armed.

"Unfortunately we can only speculate, but it certainly did not help that the people of Germany were all effectively disarmed by gun control measures prior to the Nazis seizing complete control."

By 1939 they already had complete control.

"Regarding Switzerland. Prior to WW2 The Swiss people were largely agrarian. Bombing cities to starve them or defeat them with disease would have been ineffective. Think about it."

I have. Switzerland is landlocked and after the fall of France was surrounded by enemies. The Germans could have bombed Bern, Basel, Geneva as well as all railroads and the Swiss would have been unable to feed their cities. They would have been reduced to the level of the Dark Ages and would have begged the Germans to accept their surrender.

"A largely rural population that prodces much of its own food, lives in rough, steep terrain and is well armed and trained. Not worth the cost to invade."

That doesn't describe Switzerland which even then was known for its financial system. Individual Swiss farmers could have held out for awhile but so what, the cities would have fallen as fast as Rotterdam and Brussels.

"In Russia you just have your facts incorrect. The Great (Stalin) purge happened 1937-1938 thirty years after the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution."

The Russian Revolution was in 1917 and the civil war continued until 1922. 30 years after that would be 1952. So its you that has your numbers wrong. 1937 is only 15 years after the end of the civil war and 20 years after the Revolution itself. And you used the phrase "followed soon after" when referring to the introduction of gun control in Germany in 1939. Which means you claimed it was "soon after" 1939.

"But conveniently after the Russian population had been disarmed."

The Whites weren't armed during the Civil War? If you check your facts you'll find that Deniken, Yudenich and Kolchak were indeed armed and had access to foreign arnaments as well. The White armies were badly led and suffered from lack of coordination. Access to guns wasn't a problem.

"In China the peasant population had been relieved of any method of defending themselves prior to the Chinese Communist rounding up million of people and executing them. A well armed Chinese poulation would have stood a far better chance at surviving than what actually happened to them."

It was the Chinese peasants that gave the communists their strength. The Communists treated the peasants very well compared to how the KMT and Japanese treated them. Which is why their army grew compared to the desertions that afflicted the KMT.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous @ 2:52; Marc Lepine purchased his firearm legally. With an FAC.

I still think you're out to lunch on this. Registering firearms hasn't stopped any crime. Criminals don't care about registering things.

And to the person who thinks all guns should be banned I say, get real.

I have a firearm not for self defense but for hunting and to protect my livestock. While you're eating Buffy on your plate, just remember where Buffy came from, and thank the rancher that protected Buffy till she ended up on your plate.

City people.

Steve Laycock said...

Balance,facts and free speech are what our great society is based on and that is why Canada is such a great nation. So we need to choice where to impose society views and laws, but in the process be careful not to dislodge my rights or my guns. So now that I have your attention!

I own firearms for hunting. I am a believer in firearm training and in a timed process when buying firearms. What I mean by this is that a person who might have a moment of rage can not simply go out and buy a gun, return home and shoot someone. It is impossible to control all things in life but there are always ways of improving what we do today. Long gun registry is not an improvement. Perhaps we need a system of mental health checks before a gun is bought, or a car for that matter, see below. But I am guessing that might be seen as an invasion of privacy.

A few questions for you all. How many registered firearms have been used in committing a crime, note registered? Another question would be of all firearm crimes, what percentage of them were conducted by long gun's owned by the same person that bought the gun and or had it registered?

The point is, criminals conduct the majority of firearm crimes. You and I don't as a normal course of action, but it is possible. So let us agree that tomorrow Bill and I flip out, I have registered guns, I take one and shot someone. Did the registry stop me? No. Now lets say the next day Bill flips out, gets in his car and drives into his ex wife and kills her? Where is the difference, you can't claim that a car is less of a danger than a gun can you since if you like facts and stats there are A LOT MORE PEOPLE killed each year with automobiles than guns in Canada. Automobiles are registered for tax purposes not for safety I would think, but perhaps we need to re-look at a complete over haul of car registration, as I can think of a lot of folks I don't think should be sitting behind the wheel.

What we need is balance, we can't control all aspects of life, we can educate and inform however. I am against the registry as it is a huge cost and the ROI is just not there. Invest my tax dollars in re-training people how to drive every 5 years and I bet we save a lot more lives that this gun registry does. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Why are gun control supporters the only people that put up images of guns pointing at the reader?

Obviously bereft of manners and common sense that all firearms owners know. Rule #1: always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction. If you do this, you will never injure anyone, ever.

Stop pointing that thing at me!!