Guns in the News: Police put at risk by decline in gun-license renewals
Posted by cgccanada on July 9, 2009
Updated Sat. Jun. 27 2009 1:43 PM ET
The Canadian Press CTV.ca
OTTAWA — The number of firearm owners who fail to renew their gun licences has steadily increased since the Harper government tabled legislation to scrap the federal long-gun registry. Opposition critics and the Coalition for Gun Control in Canada say the problem has increased risk for frontline police officers and undermines public safety.
Despite an amnesty the Conservatives introduced to coax gun owners into licence renewals, the latest
RCMP figures show the opposite occurred. The rate of non-renewals climbed to 25.3 per cent of expired licences in the first three months of this year, compared with 14.1 per cent in 2005.
Cabinet began the amnesty in 2006 and extended it for another year last month, waiving licence fees and providing protection from liability under the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code for those who take steps to comply with the law. But the government’s mixed message over the last three years — bringing in the amnesty along with legislation to dismantle the registry — has confused gun owners and is eroding the integrity of the program, critics say.
“The real issue is that there is a dramatic inconsistency between what the government has filed, in terms
of its rationale for the amnesty, and its political statements on the program,” says Wendy Cukier, head of
the Coalition for Gun Control. A little-noticed RCMP report for 2007 on the Canada Firearms Centre contains positive information about the registry and its use by police that could surprise even diehard opponents.
The report includes a groundbreaking RCMP survey that found general duty police officers use the online
version of the registry at a high rate to check for potential weapons while responding to trouble calls.
On average, 73 per cent of the officers said they log on to check for the presence of firearms en route.
The rate was even higher for officers trained to use the online registry — 81 per cent of that group use it on
calls… read more
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