The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Archive for May, 2010

Top North Vancouver Mountie supports gun registry

Posted by cgccanada on May 19, 2010

By Benjamin Alldritt, North Shore News, May 19, 2010

The officer in charge of North Vancouver’s RCMP detachment is defending the usefulness of Canada’s Firearms Registry in response to efforts from a Conservative MP to abolish it.

In her capacity as vice-president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, Supt. Tonia Enger said the registry is used by the province’s police officers thousands of times each day.

“It’s used in criminal investigations to determine the origin of firearms,” she said. “It gives us a heads-up; we can determine if a residence that we might be going into may or may not have a licensed firearm and also the number and type of firearms. We have a lot of domestic violence situations and a lot of disturbance calls when we don’t know why we’re getting called. If we have the names and addresses we can see if there’s any firearms.”

Enger said the registry is also used to help return stolen firearms to their lawful owners.

Candice Hoeppner, who represents the southern Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar, filed a private member’s bill that, if passed into law, would remove the requirement for gun owners to register their weapons, effectively abolishing the registry. The bill has enjoyed the support of rural MPs from several different parties.

“For me, when I’m driving around listening to the radio,” Enger said, “I’m very alerted when dispatch tells a member ‘Just so you know, so-and-so is residing there and is believed to be in possession of four handguns and three rifles.’ I know on the North Shore it’s active all the time.”

The Firearms Registry was first set up in 1995, and the Liberal government of the day believed the program would cost taxpayers about $2 million. But in a scathing 2002 report, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said the registry’s bill would be closer to $1 billion. Abolishing the registry has been a popular topic for Canada’s centre-right parties ever since.

“The estimated cost to operate the program currently is between $3.5 million and $4 million per year,” Enger said. “You may be able to say there were substantial costs to start it up, but we are now in a maintenance mode and it costs substantially less than it did initially.”

Enger also turned aside criticism that the registry is an expensive hassle for law-abiding gun owners without helping to catch armed criminals.

“It helps,” she said. “It’s one component and if you take it away, we lose something. B.C. chiefs of police are coming out to say they support the registry and there’s no question that it’s strongly supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police as well.”


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Chatham police support long gun registry as a valuable tool

Posted by cgccanada on May 19, 2010

By Blair Andrews, Chatham Daily News, May 18, 2010

The Chatham-Kent Police Services Board strongly opposes the move to scrap the long gun registry.

Conservative MP Candice Heoppner’s private member’s bill to abolish the registry is coming up for a third and final vote.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Chief Dennis Poole said that although the registry had a controversial beginning and was criticized for significant cost overruns, it has become a valuable tool for police to track firearms in Canada.

“In most cases, guns that are used in crimes come from law-abiding citizens who have had their homes broken into or had their weapons stolen,” Poole said. “And it certainly allows us to trace those weapons back or account for them, even years later when they show up, either in a pawn shop or in the hands of a criminal.”

In his report to the board, Poole said the registry is used thousands of times each day by police when answering calls such as domestic disputes.

The board accepted a recommendation to outline its position to Chatham-Kent MP Dave Van Kesteren.

Board member Uly Bondy suggested a firm message should be sent.

“We hear about rifles not being used (in crimes). Most of the incidences that you can see on television in the past few years have involved long rifles,” Bondy said. “I think a very strong message should be sent to the government, which we will do.”

Van Kesteren said he “respectfully disagrees” with the board’s position to keep the long gun registry. Despite the official positions stated by associations of police chiefs and officers, he countered that there are many in the law enforcement community that agree with government’s position to abolish the registry.

Van Kesteren believes the gun registry has been wasteful and has accomplished very little.

“There are thousands upon thousands of guns that are not listed in the registry. When I talk to police officers, they tell me that any time that they would make an inquiry (to the registry), they still treat it as a situation as they don’t know what is on the other end,” he said.

Van Kesteren also claimed that most gun crimes are committed with guns that are smuggled into Canada from the United States.

A parliamentary committee is studying the private member’s bill – Bill C-391 – before it receives third and final reading.

While the timing is uncertain, Van Kesteren said MPs could vote on the legislation within a few weeks.

“I think it could very well be out of committee before we (the House) rise. That would be in the summer. If not, then the fall.”

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No registering of unrestricted sniper rifles?

Posted by cgccanada on May 18, 2010

The Steyr-Mannlicher HS .50 is classified as an “unrestricted” sniper rifle in Canada. It is reported that “it can pierce light armour from a distance of up to 1.5 kilometres.” It can also be legally acquired in Canada by anyone with a valid firearms license.

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is currently hearing witnesses on Bill C-391. If passed, this Bill will repeal the requirement to register unrestricted firearms like the Steyr-Mannlicher HS .50 sniper rifle. There are also no provisions in Bill C-391 to reinstate the requirement that businesses keep records of firearm sales, a requirement in place since 1977 that was removed when the Firearms Act passed in 1995 as the information would be in the registry. This information, which is a crucial component of Canada’s gun control strategies, would be lost with Bill C-391 and no efforts would be made to rebuild such information in a way that helps police officers (as the current registry does).

Austrian Weapons in Iraq: A Smoking Gun from the Alps
By Marion Kraske in Vienna
From Spiegel Online
Published on Sunday, February 14, 2007

Steyr HS .50

Steyr HS .50

More than 800 high-powered weapons were shipped to Iran from Austria in 2004 over US and British objections. Now, the rifles may have turned up in the hands of Iraq insurgents.

It is considered one of the world’s most modern and precise weapons — the Steyr HS .50, made by Austrian weapons manufacturer Steyr-Mannlicher. The easily disassembled gun goes for about €4,000 in the Internet. And the buyer gets a deadly weapon that can penetrate basic armor at a range of 1.5 kilometers (just under a mile).

And they may now be in Iraq. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the US Army uncovered 100 of the weapons in a raid in Baghdad. Individual weapons, the paper writes, had already turned up in recent months, but now the number found has jumped to more than 100. Indeed, a Steyr HS .50 was reportedly used to shoot and kill a US officer in his vehicle.

“Obviously, if the reports are true, it would be profoundly disturbing,” said William Wanlund, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Vienna, according to the AP.

If the reports are true, it is highly likely that the hoard of HS .50 rifles US authorities found came from a shipment that left Austria in late 2004. Eight hundred of the rifles were shipped to Iran with the express approval of the government of then Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. Steyr-Mannlicher, the manufacturer of the weapons, had filed a request with the Austrian interior ministry for approval to export the weapons a year earlier.

Officially the Austrian company’s buyer was Iran’s federal police force, specifically a special anti-drug unit. The Iranians claimed at the time that they needed the weapons for use in fighting the drug trade — smugglers and dealers.

Concerned that these dangerous weapons could fall into the hands of insurgents and terrorists, the governments in London and Washington both tried to put a stop to the controversial sale, but were unsuccessful. Steyr-Mannlicher went through with the deal anyway.

The reaction came swiftly. In late 2005 the US government angrily imposed an embargo on the Austrian weapons manufacturer. Since then Steyr-Mannlicher, together with manufacturers from India and China, has been excluded from lucrative US government contracts.

The company remained stubborn. Wolfgang Fürlinger, the CEO of Steyr-Mannlicher at the time, made a public effort to downplay the dangers of the weapon, claiming that the HS .50 was less harmful than a pistol. He also insisted that the Iranian government had signed a so-called end-user certificate that ruled out the re-export of the guns.

Certificate or not, the Iranian weapons deal also triggered a heated political debate in Austria. The opposition party believed that the deal between Steyr and Tehran was everything but clean. Peter Pilz, a Green Party member of the Austrian parliament and his party’s spokesman on security issues, even went so far as to call the deal “illegal.”

Pilz argued that HS .50 was not a “toy weapon,” as many had claimed, but that the rifle was in fact capable of piercing armor-plated vehicles and body armor from great distances. The HS .50, according to Pilz, hardly seemed designed for use in fighting the drug trade.

The recent discovery of the Austrian weapons in Iraq has only served to confirm Pilz’s initial criticism. Pilz assigns the blame for the politically sensitive deal to the cabinet of former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, and most of all to Günther Platter, the then interior minister and current defense minister, former Interior Minister Ernst Strasser and Ursula Plassnik, Austria’s former and current foreign minister.

Steyr-Mannlicher continues to fend off criticism of the deal. According to Franz Holzschuh, the company’s new owner, the serial numbers of the weapons that were found in Iraq would have to be checked clarify the source of the rifles. The weapons found in Iraq, says Holzschuh, could also be imitations. After all, he adds, the patents for the HS .50 expired “years ago.”,1518,466284,00.html

Austrian Weapons in Iraq: A Smoking Gun from the Alps
By Marion Kraske in Vienna

From Spiegel Online

Published on Sunday, February 14, 2007

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Just another unrestricted firearm

Posted by cgccanada on May 4, 2010

The L115A3 sniper rifle mentioned in the article below, which can shoot more than 2 km away, is classified as a non-restricted firearm in Canada.  The rifle, as issued by the British army, is equipped with a sound suppressor which is a prohibited device in Canada. If the sound suppressors is removed, the L115A3 sniper rifle is classified as a non-restricted firearm. More details on this firearm is available on the British army web site:

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security will begin to hear witnesses on Bill C-391 today. This bill proposes to repeal the requirement to register unrestricted firearms like the L115A3 sniper rifle. There are also no provisions in Bill C-391 to reinstate the requirement that businesses keep records of sales, a requirement since 1977 that was removed when the Firearms Act passed in 1995 as the information would be in the registry.

British sniper shoots down Canada’s bragging rights
Colin Freeze
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, May. 04, 2010 12:07AM EDT
Last updated on Tuesday, May. 04, 2010 1:54AM EDT

Military observers are marvelling at a British sniper, revealed this week to have killed two Taliban fighters from a mountain perch 2.47 kilometres away. The story of these shots is being heard around the world as a feat of marksmanship without parallel in history.
Sadly, the news also puts an end to some national bragging rights: Until now, the Canadian Forces had claimed the world’s best sniper shot.

In 2002, when the Afghanistan war was still in its infancy, Canadian army Corporal Rob Furlong killed an alleged al-Qaeda fighter from 2.43 kilometres away – seemingly an unsurpassable feat.

That shot was never formally publicized – snipers are covert by nature, after all – but word leaked out over the years. The legend grew to the point where military observers hailed it as a landmark Canadian achievement.

“There was a certain frisson of pride involved there,” said historian Jack Granatstein. “I don’t think it’s significant in Canadian military history except insofar that it demonstrates that we are good snipers, after 25 years of assuming that we didn’t fight anybody.”
Contemplating both shots, he couldn’t help but marvel. “It’s amazing,” Mr. Granatstein said. “It’s absolutely amazing that you could fire a shot a someone [that far] away and hit them. … And the Brit hit two!”

Last November in Helmand province, British Corporal Craig Harrison killed the two insurgents from an astounding distance of 8,120 feet. News of the new record is only now being made public.

“The first round hit a machine-gunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” the British soldier told The Sunday Times of London. “The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too.”

Former Canadian Forces sniper Rob Furlong killed an alleged al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan from 2.43 kilometres away in 2002, a legendary feat – but one now taking a back seat to British Corporal Craig Harrison’s two kills of Taliban fighters from a distance of 2.47 kilometres.

In war zones, soldiers are given high-powered scopes and other rifle technologies that get better all the time. “The reason they are able to make these kind of shots is they have high-quality lasers that tell them where their target is within one metre,” said retired U.S. major John Plaster, a Vietnam War veteran who now runs a U.S. sniper school.

Good students there, Mr. Plaster said, can hit a dime at 100 yards.

Luck, as ever, remains a factor. Snipers live for the those moments when their rules of engagement and a windless day combine to create the conditions for the perfect kill – even if a target is a mile or more away.

Marksmanship, of course, has impressed nations ever since ancient Greeks boasted that clear-eyed Odysseus could kill many enemies with a single arrow. The Swiss had William Tell shoot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow. Medieval Brits marvelled at Robin Hood.

And Canada had Francis (Peggy) Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa Indian from Ontario who was the highest-scoring Canadian sniper of the First World War, with accounts of his kills running as high as 378.

As for Corp. Furlong, his shot, though surpassed, will create chatter for years to come, Mr. Plaster said. He said he even bumped into the shy Canadian – now an Edmonton police officer – at a U.S. gun show last winter.

“I applauded him. Shook his hand,” Mr. Plaster said. “You can take great pride in him.”

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