The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Archive for August, 2010

Taking Aim

Posted by cgccanada on August 30, 2010

The Telegram, August 27, 2010

If nothing else, the debate is getting more interesting. And from the outside, if it wasn’t such an important issue, it would be limping towards tragic comedy.

As the leadup to a vote on a private member’s bill on Canada’s long-gun registry gets closer and closer, more interesting information keeps trickling out — and then is promptly derided by those who wish to see the registry disappear.

The CBC reported that they have obtained the results of a federal report on the registry, a report that has been in the federal government’s hands since February.

The 40-page report, done by the RCMP and outside auditors, says the registry is cost-effective, efficient and valuable to police.

Not only that, it says the costs to continue administering the program are between $1.1 million to $3.6 million per year.

The CBC quoted the report as saying “The program, as a whole, is an important tool for law enforcement. It also serves to increase accountability of firearm owners for their firearms. … Overall the program is cost effective in reducing firearms related crime and promoting public safety through universal licensing of firearm owners and registration of firearms.”

The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, which supports keeping the registry, has argued the report should be made public before the parliamentary vote.

Opponents have said the RCMP can’t be trusted to analyze the success or value of the registry — in fact, some critics have gone so far as to suggest that the RCMP can’t be trusted about anything.

For its part, the RCMP has only said the report is still being translated into French, and isn’t ready for release. That’s an answer with its own internal hilarity, given that the same force just had to defend itself against charges of political interference after the head of the registry — and an outspoken supporter of the registry — was transferred from his duties because RCMP bosses decided now was an urgent time for that officer to learn … French.

Tory MP Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to dissolve the registry will actually face a vote in the House of Commons in September. It’s yet another step in a concerted effort to rid the country of one part of the firearms regulations system, a battle that’s regularly cast as a case of urban politicians not understanding the lives of rural Canadians.

For months now, editorial page editors have seen a constant flow of interesting letters to the editor: succinct, on-point letters from “individual rural Canadians” that remarkably, use exactly the same talking points against the long-gun registry and sometimes the same sentences. They are sent by letter-writers who magically are able to obtain the same collection of e-mail addresses for every single newspaper in Canada, often with those newspapers in the same order.

Overall, the message seems to be that a vast majority of those on either side have long since made up their minds, and are now ready to use whatever means necessary to reach their own ends.

There are dirty tricks enough for everyone in this little struggle for public opinion, and very little is what it seems.

But it should be very simple: if you have to register a car or boat or airplane, why shouldn’t you have to register a weapon? Somewhere, common sense seems to have been completely lost.


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Keep the long gun registry, Mr. McColeman

Posted by cgccanada on August 9, 2010

By Pat Kawamoto, The Brantford Expositor, August 7, 2010

Contrary to Brant MP Phil McColeman’s recent article on ending the long gun registry, not all Canadians are fed up with paying for it.

While the initial cost to implement the registry was high, police associations confirm that it is now controlled by the RCMP and costs this country a reasonable $4.1 million per year to run.

Also, while McColeman’s article iimplies that police chiefs and officers do not support the long gun registry, it should be noted that all of the major Canadian organizations representing police support the registry -including The Canadian Police Association, representing 41,000 police officers in Canada and The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs.

Additionally, Ontario’s Attorney General, public health organizations, labour organizations, social organizations, women’s safety experts and many others support the long-gun registry.

In fact, the parliamentary standing committee on public safety and national security, which McColeman acknowledges he is a part of, recommended to the House of Commons in its latest report that the government should keep the long-gun registry as it is a tool “…that promotes and enhances public security and the safety of Canadian police officers.”

Here’s what the experts are saying (visit http://www.guncontrol.cafor more information) and what McColeman’s article didn’t tell you:

— As of 2009, 111,533 firearms were seized by police for public safety reasons. Of those 87,893 or 78.8% were long guns;

— Of the 16 police officer shooting deaths in Canada since 1998, 14 were the result of long guns.

— Police across Canada access the long gun registry about 11,000 times a day, or more than four million times a year. Of those inquiries, more than 2,800 a day, or one million a year, directly involve community safety issues.

— Between 1974 and 2008, 40,000 long guns were stolen from Canadian residences and 1.85 million long guns changed hands in Canada since 2006. Registering long guns holds owners accountable for the safe storage of their firearms, for reporting lost or stolen guns and reduces the chances that legally owned guns will be diverted to unlicensed owners.

— On average, one in three women killed by their husbands is shot -88% of them with legally owned rifles and shotguns.

— When firearms are available, domestic homicides are more likely to involve multiple victims and end in suicide.

— Northern Ontario communities have higher rates of long gun ownership and gun-related injuries than the provincial average.

— Contrary to popular belief, it is relatively easy to register a long gun and it is free.

McColeman states in his article that the Conservatives support the registration of prohibited and restricted weapons but not the registration of long guns.

His argument for this is that the long gun registry is ineffective as criminals do not register their guns. If criminals do not register their long guns, why would they register their prohibited and restricted weapons?

Where is the logic in supporting one registry over another?

In closing, keep the long gun registry, Mr. McColeman — don’t waste the significant tax dollars already spent and please help protect our families and communities.

Pat Kawamoto was born and raised in Brantford and is a career banker currently working as an independent financial planner. She is a strong believer in giving back to both the local communities in which we live and the broader global communities with which we share our humanity.

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Gun registry duel could take Stephen Harper to brink of majority

Posted by cgccanada on August 7, 2010

By Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star, July 7, 2010

MONTREAL – With Parliament adjourned for the summer, a major skirmish in the Conservative battle for a governing majority has moved to 20 Opposition ridings spread across rural and Northern Canada.

They are the ridings of eight Liberals and 12 New Democrats who voted against the long gun registry in a House of Commons vote last fall.

At the time, their support allowed a Conservative private member’s bill designed to abolish the registry to be approved in principle by 164 to 137 votes.

The final vote is to be held in late September. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff expects the Liberals who sided with the Conservatives to reverse themselves on that vote.

Jack Layton has not issued similar instructions to his caucus but the NDP has been under intense pressure from gun control advocates to ensure that it does not play the supporting role in the registry’s demise.

Conservative strategists see the debate is a win-win and they have no objections in dragging it out to the fall.

If the government succeeds in eliminating the registry with the help of the NDP, it will have fulfilled an iconic promise to its core base.

Such a result would also empower Ignatieff to go after Layton on gun control in the next election.

From the Conservative standpoint, time spent by the Liberals and the NDP on fighting each other is time well spent.

But if the gun registry bill dies at the hand of a concerted Opposition barrage instead, that lost battle will be put to use in the fight for a Conservative majority. That is very much a war of attrition that is being fought on a seat-by-seat basis.

Some of the ridings held by the Liberals who have been asked to switch their votes are safer than others. In 2008, Scott Simms and Todd Russell won their Newfoundland-and-Labrador ridings with 70 per cent of the vote.

The other six ridings could be a different proposition. In the last election, the Conservatives came in second in every one of them and even a solid margin of victory is not always a guarantee of repeat success.

In the riding of Yukon for instance, Liberal Larry Bagnall had a 13-point lead on his Conservative opponent in 2008. But the gun registry has always been controversial in the North and it is a region where party labels tend to matter less than in other areas of the country.

In the last election, the Conservatives were serious contenders in four of the ridings held by anti-gun-registry New Democrats, coming a close or a respectable second in Welland, Western Arctic, Elmwood-Transcona and Skeena.

Taken together, the Opposition seats at play on the gun registry debate could bring the Conservatives to the doorstep of a governing majority.

That presumes that there are no government seats to be lost over the issue. And yet on paper at least there are sound reasons why the government rather than the Opposition should be on the defensive.

The registry is popular with the police and it enjoys significant support in urban areas — including the suburban belts of Toronto and Vancouver, where the Conservatives have made significant inroads since 2006.

But it is harder to launch single-issue trench wars in urban areas — where density makes resonance harder to achieve — than in rural ones.

And then there is the Liberal attitude to fighting the government.

Ignatieff’s party still seems to approach campaigns as if their outcome were determined by a single grand duel between two generals crossing swords on a central battlefield.

At a time when the vote can split anywhere from three to five ways along regional fault lines, that is like bringing a suit of armour to a jungle war.

Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears in the Toronto Star every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.–hebert-gun-registry-duel-could-take-stephen-harper-to-brink-of-majority

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