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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 2


As public debate over the long gun registry heats up, the Gun Control Lobby is continuing to push their stance of gun control being a women’s issue.  In particular, they are claiming that it is a rural women’s issue.  I decided to take a look at this stance in a three part series.

In Part 1, I discussed how the current system of gun control in Canada is diverting money away from programs that could help women who are victims of abuse.  In Part 3, I will be dealing with self defense.

In this part, I’m going to break down the numbers regarding violent crime, family violence and homicide in this country.  Where does it happen, who are the victims, and what are the causes.

Causes

Contrary to what gun control and feminist advocates would have us believe, guns are not a risk factor for domestic violence.  According to the Canadian Department of Justice, the major risk factors for spousal violence are

  • being a young person
  • living in a common law relationship
  • having a partner who periodically drinks heavily
  • emotional abuse in the relationship, and
  • marital separation

Statistics Canada also adds being Aboriginal to that list.  20% of the Aboriginal population has reported being victims of family violence compared with 7% of the non-Aboriginal population.

A journal article, National Trends in Intimate Partner Homicides: Explaining Declines in Canada 1976-2001 made some more interesting points.  I would especially like to point out the date range of this study, 1976-2001, and remind my readers that the long gun registry did not come into force until 2001.

Over the time period studied, spousal homicide rates had declined by about 50%, falling from 8.5 (per million spouses) in 1976 to 4.2 in 2001.  Spousal homicides using a firearm had declined by 81% over the same time period. 

For those who like to make comparisons with the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1976-2000 our “gun loving” cousins to the south saw a decline in spousal homicides of 45%.  Keep in mind that gun ownership in the US of A increases by about 4.5 million guns per year.  Allow me to repeat that: over a 24 year period, as gun ownership increased spousal homicide decreased.

According to the National Trends article, the reasons for these declines in both countries were

  • male to female employment ratios (more women had jobs)
  • higher education levels for both men and women
  • marrying later in life
  • starting a family later in life and having fewer children
  • social programs which make it easier for victims to leave their abusers

I hope my anti-gun readers have noted how guns and gun control are not mentioned anywhere as either a cause or a solution to the issues of domestic violence.

Where does it happen?

There is definitely some truth to the claim that rural Canadians are more at risk of spousal violence than their urban neighbours. 

  POPULATION SHELTERS SHELTERS PER 100,000 RATE OF SPOUSAL VIOLENCE*
Canada 33,739,900 569 1.7 188
Nfld & Labrador 508,900 15 2.9 123
PEI 141,000 5 3.5 128
Nova Scotia 938,200 16 1.7 145
New Brunswick 749,500 22 2.9 84
Quebec 7,828,900 126 1.6 241
Ontario 13,069,200 160 1.2 141
Manitoba 1,222,000 29 2.4 215
Saskatchewan 1,030,100 24 2.3 329
Alberta 3,687,700 50 1.4 249
BC 4,455,200 110 2.5 124**
Yukon 33,700 5 14.8 421
NWT 43,400 7 9.3 1,605
Nunavut 32,200 2,472

* Rate per 100,000 population
** Incomplete data for British Columbia

There is little data available on the reasons for the greater incidence of abuse in rural areas.  One thing that is known is that there is less help available to victims of spousal violence in rural Canada.  Even though the territories have a high per capita number of shelters, those shelters have very limited services available.  Additionally, because of the vast distances involved in all rural areas, it is not always possible for victims of abuse to reach help when it is available.  Other factors like education levels, financial dependence and divorce rates also play a role in this urban/rural divide. 

While spousal violence may be a bigger issue in rural Canada, there is no clear divide when it comes to violent crime and homicide.  Large and small communities are affected equally in this regard.  There are many socio-economic factors that come into play.

Who are the victims?

Here’s where the numbers become interesting.  There are about 330,000 victims of violent crime in Canada each year.  If we believe our misandrist lobby groups, the number of female victims should far exceed the number of male victims.  Right?

Wrong.  In 2007, 50.04% of the victims of violent crime were female.  Basic math tells me that 49.96% of the victims were male.  Hardly a staggering difference.  In cases of domestic violence, 7% of women and 6% of men have reported violence at the hands of their partner.  Again, hardly a noticeable difference. 

Specifically regarding family violence, the numbers are still not so different, with 63% of female victims and 61% of male victims suffering from common assault (Level 1).  However, the results are not always so balanced.  Men are twice as likely as women to be the victim of a serious assault (Level 2 or 3 – assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm). 

Common assault has been declining steadily since the 1970s, however serious assault has been increasing for the last 25 years, falling for the first time in 2008.  It’s no large stretch to see that violence against women is on the decrease, while violence against men is on the increase.

Let’s take a similar look at homicides in Canada.  In 2008, the lowest rate (24%) of female victims since 1961 was recorded.  Conversely, the rate of male homicide victims has been rising steadily for the last 10 years.  In terms of spousal homicide, women are 4 times as likely as men to be killed by a current or former intimate partner (51 vs. 14 for 2007).

To summarize all those numbers and add a couple of new ones:

  • men are twice as likely as women to be assaulted with a weapon
  • men are three times more likely to be the victim of a homicide
  • all forms of violence against women have been falling since the 1960s
  • all forms of violence against men have remained stable or have been increasing
  • spousal violence and homicide has been falling since the 1970s
  • women are four times more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner
  • homicide by long gun (rifle/shotgun) has been falling steadily since the 1970s
  • homicide by handgun has increased by 24% since 2002

Putting it all together

Well, now that I’ve bamboozled you with statistics, what does it all mean?

It means that violence in our society is not a simple issue.  Gun control advocates and feminist groups would have us believe that women are always the helpless victim at the hands of Neanderthal men. 

What I have attempted to show you with all these facts is that, while women are more often the victim in specific circumstances, the same holds true for men.  Guns are not a gendered issue any more than drunk driving is a mother’s issue.  Violence in our society affects everyone and the divisive tactics employed by groups like IANSA and the Coalition for Gun Control do little to help anyone.

Guns are not the problem in our society, nor are they the solution.  Until the real problems are addressed, weapons – including guns – will always have a place in our world. 

Sources

WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 1
WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 3