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Meet the Man Responsible for the Death of Canada’s Gun Registry


This article is from a few months ago, but I thought it well worth posting.  Thank you Garry for all of your tireless work for the citizens of Canada!!!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2012/02/29/meet-the-man-responsible-for-the-death-of-canadas-gun-registry/

 

Frank Miniter, Contributer
I expose the excesses of the bureaucracy

Looking north across the border, American gun owners may well see the fall of Canada’s long-gun registry with relief. This, after all, lessens the odds that the anti-gun movement will be successful in its attempt to install a gun-owners database in the U.S. However, before American gun owners forget about Canada all over again, there’s an incredible story here not being told outside Ottawa political circles that needs to be heard by every American who cherishes their freedom.

The way the press is telling it, the Conservatives finally gained control of the House of Commons and the Senate and then used, as they said they would, their majorities to begin the repeal of Canada’s long-gun registry. Their first big step, taken on February 15, was the House of Commons vote to kill the long-gun registry. They accomplished this by 159-130. Next up is Canada’s Senate, where repeal is inevitable because Conservatives also have a majority there. Finally, it’ll make its way to the Governor General of Canada where it will receive Royal Assent and be passed into law. So sometime this spring law-abiding Canadians will no longer have to fill out forms and pay fees in order to keep authorities aware of what’s in their gun cabinets.

All that seems to say that the political winds simply shifted and blew over the registry. The problem with that assumption is it isn’t quite true.

The true story is actually much more interesting; in fact, it needs to be heard by every American, as the arguments used by the anti-gun groups in Canada are the same ones being promoted in the U.S.

The story begins on an evening in January in 1994 in a little town called Preeceville, Saskatchewan. Garry Breitkreuz (pronounced Bright-Krites) was then a new member of Canada’s Parliament. He had been elected in October of 1993. Preeceville has about 1,000 residents. Garry was excited. This would be his first town-hall meeting. The topic was about a new gun-control bill, C-68, brought in by the then Liberal Government. It included the creation of a long-gun registry. “I’ll never forget that first meeting,” says Garry. “Even though it was 39 degrees below zero outside the place was packed and the people heated.”

Now it should be noted that Garry was hardly a gun-rights activist. Not yet anyway. Sure, he grew up in a rural Saskatchewan home and had a .30-30-caliber rifle he used to hunt deer with. “But when it came to the gun issue,” says Garry, “I was very naïve.”

Naïve indeed. Garry started the meeting off by saying to the crowd that “this long-gun registry seems to make sense. Maybe it’ll catch a few criminals….” He barely got started in this manner when his constituents made it clear they didn’t agree.

“They challenged me,” says Garry, “to do some research to find out if forcing people to register their guns will really save lives.”

Garry shut up and listened. Before a few more minutes passed he promised to do some research to find out if requiring people to register their guns really reduces crime.

This is where the story behind this repeal takes a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” shift. Garry set out to learn if making citizens register their deer rifles with the police really prevents homicides. “After just a few months of digging into it I did a 180,” says Garry, who soon hired a researcher to help. The researcher’s name is Dennis Young. Together they started asking the government from the inside how much the gun registry was costing and whether it was really reducing crime. The bureaucracy began stonewalling him, so he started filing “Access to Information” requests (the American equivalent of “Freedom of Information Act” requests). By 2002 he’d filed more than 500 such requests.

He learned that the Canadian government was horribly underestimating the costs of the long-gun registry. In 1995 Canada’s Department of Justice told Parliament that the Canadian Firearms Program would cost $119 million to implement and that this cost would be offset by $117 million in fees; however, by 2000 Canada’s Department of Justice was already estimating that the long-gun registry would cost over $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the gun-owners database wasn’t reducing crime rates. In fact, John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, looked into Canada’s long-gun registry recently and couldn’t unearth one murder the registry solved. Lott says, “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Chiefs of Police have not yet provided a single example in which tracing was of more than peripheral importance in solving a case.”

Canada’s Public Safety Minister agrees with Lott. On the day of the vote to repeal the registry the National Post reported that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the long-gun registry “does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes, nor has it saved one Canadian life. It criminalizes hard-working and law-abiding citizens such as farmers and sport shooters, and it has been a billion-dollar boondoggle left to us by the previous Liberal government.”

Now, back in the 1990s Garry wasn’t getting any traction politically or with the press, so he took his research to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The government agency agreed to review his data and to do its own audit. The auditing agency agreed with Garry. In 2002 the agency reported: “The Department of Justice Canada did not provide Parliament with sufficient information to allow it to effectively scrutinize the Canadian Firearms Program and ensure accountability. It provided insufficient financial information and explanations for the dramatic increase in the cost of the Program.”

“This report blew the lid off,” says Garry.

He says that before the Office of the Auditor General report made headlines even many Conservative politicians wouldn’t touch the gun-registry issue. They thought it was a losing battle. They said the facts didn’t matter, just the demagoguery they’d surely receive. They were afraid of the big media in population centers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—sound familiar?

“But the public was ahead of the politicians on this issue,” says Garry. “In meetings all over the country I was telling people that with what they were spending on the registry we could hire five or six thousand police officers.”

This resonated.

The exploding costs of the registry made headlines even in the city papers. Gary A. Mauser, a Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, has also looked deeply into the costs. He says, “John Lott and I added up the costs and found that, in total, the Canadian government spent about $2.7 billion on this failed experiment.” That’s more than 20 times what it was forecast to cost.

Even after the 2002 report from Office of the Auditor General came out Garry kept traveling around Canada speaking about the costs of having the government invade law-abiding Canadians’ gun cabinets. He also kept citing the crime statistics, which clearly weren’t being affected by this massive invasion of Canadians’ civil liberties. Criminals, as it predictably turned out, weren’t registering firearms they were using for crimes.

Nevertheless, some Conservative politicians still didn’t want to tackle the issue. So Garry looked for a new way to pull them together. In 2006 he learned that the U.S. has a Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). Nearly 300 members of the U.S. Congress are members of the CSC. Started in 1988-89, the CSC is supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), a group that fights for sportsmen’s rights, including wildlife conservation issues and gun rights. (Full disclosure: I do contract work for the CSF.) Garry hopped on a plane bound for Washington, D.C.

According to Phil Morlock, who is the director of environmental affairs for Shimano American Corporation/Shimano Canada and who is a CSF board member, “Garry couldn’t believe the U.S. had this large caucus fighting for hunting, fishing and gun rights. He was even more astounded that the caucus is bi-partisan. He met with CSC congressional leaders. He found himself talking to Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the CSC and asked them how they get along in such a partisan and politically charged atmosphere. The American politicians laughed and said that sometimes they think all they really agree on are sportsmen’s rights, including the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Garry flew back to Ottawa and, with the help of Morlock and others, started a nonpartisan caucus called the Canadian Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus. This caucus now is one of the largest on Parliament Hill. “The caucus helped get the information out to Members of Parliament and Senators that the long-gun registry was intrusive and ineffective,” says Garry.

At the time Garry wrote an op-ed for various newspapers in which he said, “[We] need to become proactive in protecting our outdoors heritage from an increasing number of large, well-funded, international groups who want to shut down hunting, fishing, trapping and sport shooting. Rural and urban Canadians of all political affiliations, backgrounds, ages and abilities contribute over $10 billion annually to the national economy through these industries. These traditional activities are a key part of Canada’s culture and an important component of our history as a nation.”

Sportsmen and those who just wanted to protect their families without government interference now had a caucus working for them.

Then, also in 2006, Stephen Harper, a Conservative, became prime minister of Canada by forming a minority government. Harper didn’t have the votes then to tear down the registry, but over the next few elections the Conservatives gained more seats. Finally, in 2011, with the caucus, the government, the facts and the public on their side, the Conservatives had the votes and the will to move against the long-gun registry.

Garry says the caucus, along with the blatant fact that the long-gun registry was costing a fortune without solving crimes, even had support from politicians in other parties. Nevertheless, when the vote came only two New Democrats—John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer—broke from their party and voted to repeal. “They’re now being punished by their party for doing the right thing,” laments Garry.

Then, when the vote came on February 15, something unusual took place. In the Canadian House of Commons members of Parliament stand to signify their votes. After Garry stood to vote to repeal the long-gun registry, they broke into a cheer: “Garry, Garry….” This just isn’t done in the reserved atmosphere of the Canadian Parliament. But repealing a government program—no matter how onerous and costly it turns out to be—is a rare thing. It’s especially rare to see a database of gun-owners repealed. Throughout history many governments have created gun registries—most recently in Australia and England. Gun registries often end in gun confiscations—again, this has occurred in Australia and England—but as far as Lott knows no registry has ever been repealed.

And the moral of the story is that Canada’s experiment didn’t end with the government disarming its citizenry because the people stood up and challenged a statesman to represent them by searching out the truth—this, in a nutshell, is what the Tea Party has been advocating in the U.S.

In fact, I asked Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action how this might affect Americans and he said, “Gun registration in the United States has always been the political fantasy of the gun-ban lobby. The clear lesson from Canada is that registration did not and does not reduce crime; in fact, since Canada’s long-gun-registration law went into effect, the U.S. murder rate has dropped almost twice as fast as Canada’s. A gun registry only infringes on privacy and has led to the confiscation of law-abiding citizens’ firearms in countries around the world, and even here in the U.S. That is why the NRA will fight any registration effort in the U.S. with every fiber we have.”

Indeed, Americans should be thanking Garry, too. He showed how to use facts, tenacity and a democratic process to overturn bad policy by convincing the government to stop making criminals out of law-abiding gun owners.

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Women and Gun Control – Part 1


The Gun Control Lobby is working hard to convince the public and our MPs that gun control is a gendered issue, in particular, a women’s issue.  They’re right, but not in the way they would have us believe.

Their angle is that abusive men use firearms to intimidate, threaten and harm women.  While this is true in some cases, it still doesn’t make sense to focus on the gun rather than on the person who is wielding it.  Take away the gun and the abuser will use a knife.  Take away the knife and the abuser will use their fists.  The key is to stop the abuse, not to regulate objects that an abuser may or may not use.

This is where the long gun registry becomes a women’s issue.  By taking away money from programs that could actually help victims of abuse, gun control activists are ensuring that the abuse will continue.

Estimates vary regarding how much money will be saved by scrapping the long gun registry – most are in the neighbourhood of $3-11 million per year.  However, those estimates don’t take into consideration the hidden costs of the registry.  Things like law enforcement, court fees, and endless mountains of paperwork to name but a few.

Looking at law enforcement alone, let’s do a quick run through the numbers.  Taking the RCMP numbers at face value, the registry is accessed 3.4 million times per year.  Assuming each “hit” takes five minutes that works out to 283,333 police hours per year.  At an average work year of 2000 hours per officer that means that 141 police officers do nothing but registry checks each year. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, how about we take it a step further?  Let’s take an average salary of $70,000 per year, plus an additional $30,000 in benefits, giving us an approximate value of $100,000 per officer per year (not taking operating expenses into account).  That’s a total of $14.1 million per year spent, or 141 officers off the streets, without solving or preventing a single crime.

Even with my very low estimates, if you add those numbers up we could save $17-25 million in tax dollars per year!!!!!

Now, let’s go back to the issue of abuse:  there are approximately 10,700 beds in 569 women’s shelters, nationwide.  Those beds accommodate well over 100,000 abused women and children each year.  The money saved from scrapping the registry could fund an additional 550-830 new shelter beds across the country. [Source: Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2009]

The money doesn’t have to go towards shelters though.  Imagine what $17-25 million could do in public awareness or education campaigns to teach young women how to avoid abusive relationships, or what their options are if they are in one.  Imagine what $17-25 million could do for mental health programs that help treat and prevent abusive behaviour.

Over the last fifteen years, hundred of millions of dollars have been funneled into the firearms registry.  According to the Auditor General’s Reports in 2002 and 2006, large sums of that money are still unaccounted for.  What have our tax dollars purchased?  The registry didn’t stop the Dawson College shooting.  It did nothing to save Jane Creba.  Nor did it prevent the murder of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta.  There has been no impact on the spousal homicide rates either.  Those have been falling steadily since the 1970s – long before the registry was ever considered.

Organizations like the Coalition for Gun Control (CGC) thrive on women as victims.  In fact, they need victims to support their cause.  They manipulate victimized women and their grieving families, convincing them that they or their loved ones would have been safe if not for the presence of those “evil” guns.  They know there are no facts to support their claims, so they parade these unfortunate people in front of the media in a blatant attempt to influence public opinion with emotion instead.

With the help of many of the organizations that make up the Gun Control Lobby, we have been trained to expect women to be abused.  We have been urged to believe that there is no way to foresee this abuse, prevent it or stop it, even though there are several identifiable risk factors.  The Gun Control Lobby ignores sources like the Department of Justice or Statistics Canada, who point out that substance abuse, particularly alcohol, makes a person six times more likely to abuse their partner.  They neglect to mention that common law couples are four times more likely to experience abuse than legally married couples.  Instead, they loudly insist that the mere presence of a gun in the home leads to intimidation and abuse.  Where are the facts backing up those claims?

For the last fifteen years, despite a complete lack of any data to support their statements, the CGC and their Gun Control Lobby cohorts have been trying to convince us that guns are the problem.  Their inability to look past the object to the person who is wielding it, has caused immeasurable harm to the women they are supposedly trying to help.   Fifteen years and billions of dollars could have made a huge difference in the lives of abused women across this country.  If that money had gone towards even one of the issues mentioned above, countless women and children could have been helped.  It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad, and direct our resources to where they are really needed.

WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 2
WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 3

Bill C-391 Must Pass


Regardless of personal opinions on gun control, everyone in Canada should be hoping and praying that Bill C-391 is passed.  This Bill was put forward earlier this year by Candice Hoeppner (Portage – Lisgar) before Parliament recessed for the summer.  The aim of this Bill is to dismantle the travesty known as the Long Gun Registry. The Bill is slated for Second Reading in the House of Commons tomorrow, on September 28.

What is the Long Gun Registry?

The Registry is a component of the convoluted Firearms Act.  The Act is so verbose that most Law Enforcement Officers couldn’t even begin to explain it to you, but that’s an entirely different topic in its own right.  By law, all legally purchased firearms in Canada must be registered to their owner.  Information held in the registry includes (but is by no means limited to):

  • Name, address and phone number of firearms license holders (regardless of whether or not they actually own any firearms)
  • Marital status of firearms license holders
  • Make, model and serial number of all firearms registered to a license holder

It has been the law in Canada to register all handguns since the 1930s.  However, it was not necessary to register rifles and shotguns until 1998 when the Firearms Act was created.  This new portion of the registry is what is being referred to when people say Long Gun Registry.  When Bill C-391 is passed (I’m thinking positively!), Canadians will still be required to register handguns; but they will no longer be required to register their hunting rifles and shotguns.

I don’t own any guns.  In fact, I don’t even LIKE guns.  Why should I care about this Bill or the Registry?

I really struggled with how best to answer this question.  There are so many different directions that I could take that I found myself overwhelmed and unsure where to start.  What it all boils down to though, is that the Liberal politicians who pushed this legislation through and the powerful Gun Control lobby who pulled their strings, lied to us all.  The registry does nothing to stop criminals from getting guns and it turns honest citizens into criminals.

The likes of Alan Rock and Wendy Cukier promised us that this registry would reduce gun crime and remove illegal guns from our streets.  They promised us that the database would be efficient and secure and be of minimal cost to the taxpayer.  And they promised us that the registry would never be used to confiscate firearms from private citizens.

Well, the registry is none of these things.  As mentioned in my previous entry regarding the RCMP’s blatant disregard for the security of gun owner’s information, the database is far from secure.  The risk to public safety is immeasurable and could have far-reaching consequences (see this gentleman’s blog for a breakdown of the potential security threat) After more than a decade, it is still incomplete (some estimate that as many as 70% of all firearms in Canada are still unregistered), and it is so full of errors that the information it contains is inadmissible in court.  Additionally, despite what the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) would have the public believe, the overwhelming majority of front line Law Enforcement Officers do not trust the information contained in the registry and think that it should be dismantled.

In fact, the Attorney General conducted two audits of the Canadian Firearms Centre and the registry (in 2002 and 2006) and found the entire thing to be woefully mismanaged.  Not only are there massive cost overruns – the registry was originally estimated to cost taxpayers only $119 million, but has since ballooned to roughly $2 billion – but they could not account for where most of that money was going. In addition, there are absolutely no systems in place to demonstrate how licensing and registration are performing.  In other words, there are no performance standards in place to determine whether or not the program is even remotely effective in its stated aims.

To make matters worse, just this last week, in Toronto, the police have started going door to door confiscating firearms using the flawed information contained in the registry.  They are targeting people who allowed their firearms license to lapse.  These are paper crimes, determined by looking at the information in the registry.  But as we’ve already determined, there’s no way of knowing if the information the police are using is even correct.

Most troubling of all though, is this quote from Wendy Cukier, founder of the Coalition for Gun Control and perhaps the most vocal proponent for gun control in Canada (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003070516_canguns19.html):

“Although it doesn’t directly address the problem of illegal handguns, the registry helps create a culture that believes guns are dangerous and owners must be held accountable.”

Even the Gun Control Lobby themselves admits that the registry does not address illegal firearms.  According to the Gun Control Lobby, the purpose of the registry is to create a culture of fear, not to prevent crime.  They want to hold gun owners accountable…for what?  The actions of criminals?  You see, that’s the thing about professional lobbyists, no matter how emotional their pleas, at the end of the day their only interest is the limelight and their own political careers.  Unfortunately for us, fear is a very powerful currency in the game of politics, and it’s to their benefit to keep the public afraid.

Breaking it down to the simplest idea, the key flaw of this database is that it’s designed to keep track of the wrong people.  Instead of wasting $2 billion and 10 years making a list of everyone who was fit to own a firearm, they should have been making a list of everyone who was unfit to own one.  Wouldn’t that make more sense?  It would definitely be a much shorter list.

I’m not asking anyone who dislikes guns to change their mind.  I’m not trying to convince anyone that guns aren’t used during the commission of crimes.  I am asking that people open their eyes and see that the registry is not the right path. 

Take a moment and just imagine what a difference $2 billion and 10 years of effective crime prevention strategies could have accomplished in our cities.

Please contact your MP and tell them to support C-391.  Tell them that this gross waste of taxpayer’s money and government resources needs to be dismantled.  Tell them that the risk to public safety is unacceptable.  Tell them that if they really want to tackle the issue of crime that maybe, just maybe, they should focus on the criminals.