The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Repealing long-gun registry could get officers killed: Chief

Posted by cgccanada on April 30, 2010

By Laura Stone, Canwest News ServiceApril 28, 2010 8:02 PM

OTTAWA – The head of Canada’s association of police chiefs says
repealing the long-gun registry would harm police officers’ work and
“could get them killed.”

William Blair, chief of police in Toronto and president of the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, made the strongly worded
comments this week as the fight over a private member’s bill that
would scrap the registry raged on inside and outside of Parliament.

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s Bill C-391 bill takes aim at what
the her party has long called a costly and ineffective registry, but
police chiefs, including Blair, have repeatedly defended the program.

“Police officers rely on information,” Blair said in comments posted
on the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police website.

“Accurate and complete information is the best protection I can give
them. Knowing (not assuming) who has firearms is valuable,” he said.

“The registry gives officers information that keeps them safe. If the
registry is taken from us, police officers may guess, but they cannot
know. It could get them killed. We are going to fight to make sure the
information they need to be safe is available to them.”

The difference between licensing and registration, according to the
RCMP, is that a firearms licence shows the licence holder has met
certain public-safety criteria and is allowed to possess and use
firearms. A registration certificate identifies a firearm and links
the firearm to its owner.

Ontario’s chiefs of police have also expressed their dismay
surrounding the bill, calling the registration “a vital public-safety

“A licence tells us a person can have a gun. The registry tells us
what guns that person has. There is a huge difference – a difference
that could put the lives of citizens and our officers in great
danger,” said Chief Robert Herman of Thunder Bay, Ont., who is also
the vice-president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

The association said Canadian law-enforcement organizations use the
federal firearms registry 11,500 times a day on average, and more than
4.1 million times a year.

At least one police chief, however, recently announced his opposition
to the registry.

Rick Hanson, Calgary’s police chief, told CTV on Monday that “the gun
registry has done little to make the streets safer.”

He said officers use the registry as an investigative tool, and it
doesn’t work when dealing with gangs and drug dealers.

“It’s not helping. The guns these people have, they don’t register,
they don’t care, they’re probably stolen, they’re probably obtained
illegally, in many cases they’re prohibited,” Hanson told CTV.

Blair chalked up such comments to “a police chief or two who may not
be well informed about the real value of the registry. They are very
rare exceptions.”

Health-care experts also said Wednesday the controversial registry is
essential to Canadians as a “public health-and-safety” law – one that
can help prevent domestic murders, accidents and, most significantly,

Most firearm deaths in Canada are suicides and the guns most often
used are rifles and shotguns, said a coalition of experts. They said
that in the nine years between 1995 and 2005 – the first year that the
long-gun registration was introduced as part of a wider gun-control
plan by a then-Liberal government – firearm suicides involving 15 to
35 year olds in the home decreased by 64 per cent.

Hoeppner responded by saying these doctors, while meaning well, are
“really confusing the issue.”

“I think we definitely have a problem with suicide in Canada, but the
long-gun registry does nothing to stop, to curb, to do anything to
actually address suicide. Licensing might help so that those people
don’t get guns, unfortunately if someone is going to commit suicide,
many times they’re still finding other ways,” said Hoeppner.

The bill passed in a preliminary vote in the Commons last November
with support of the eight Liberals and 12 New Democrats, and is
expected to return to the House of Commons late this spring or next
fall for another vote. Five Liberals have reversed their positions
since Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said his party would modify the


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