December 27, 2006

Dec. 27, 2006: Gun Registry

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

[....] Mr. Dave MacKenzie (Oxford, CPC):

[....] This was an inquiry of the ministry done October 13, 2004.

[....] It says:

Trends in crime statistics can be influenced by many factors including socio-demographic and economic changes, legislative and program changes and changes in police practices. The specific impact of the firearms program or the firearms registry cannot be isolated from that of other factors.

I'll present this to the clerk. That was in bold print from the ministry.

[....] Ms. Kadis mentioned the hits on the system. I've talked to front line police officers, and by and large those hits are automatic links in CPIC queries. You can set up your CPIC system, or your own computer system--some departments do--such that if they run a “10-28”, which is a vehicle registration check, when the name of the registered owner comes back, it also queries the firearms registry.

Make no mistake, 6,500 queries a day are not being made to the firearms registry to determine firearms. The vast majority, and I would say to you that almost all of them, are made because they're automatic links into the system.

The fact that you've run a car and found the registered owner's name...and the fact that the individual has firearms in his home means nothing to you. You're not interested in his home. If you ever, for one minute, walked up to a house and wanted to trust that information about whether or not there were firearms in that house, because you'd checked the registry, you'd end up with dead police officers.

They don't trust it, and they can't trust it.
That's not because there's something necessarily inherently wrong with it, but you don't know that there are firearms there or not anyway. The individual who is most likely to use a firearm would have the firearm there because they'd stolen it for whatever means.

So the firearms are not going to be registered. It doesn't add to safety
--of my son or my son-in-law or my nephew--and for that reason alone, I think we could use those resources in something else.

If you people are intent on supporting this motion, then I say to you, at the same time, it's time we invited people in here from both sides of the spectrum to give us a view of really what the system does or doesn't do.
I suggest to you that it does less than you may have been led to believe.


Mr. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC):

[....] I agree with my colleague that if we are going to do this, then we need to call in a lot more folks to talk about it who have the actual experience. We talk about front line police officers, and I have a bit of a problem with that. I've talked to an awful lot of front line police officers, most recently an assistant commissioner with the RCMP, and I have not talked to a single front line police officer who would rely on this, or has relied on it, to any extent at all. I just have a hard time with people who tell me that's the case, because I know it's not.

In terms of the 6,500-hits-a-day discussion, when you say that it's inappropriate to question that, I'm sorry, it's entirely appropriate to question that. The misinformation that comes out because of that misquoted statistic skews the argument. To say that we have 6,500 hits or queries to the gun registry, and therefore it must be useful--it's just not true. My colleague has explained why that happens. I suggest to you that you know that's true. The experience in the U.K. and Australia, with similar draconian legislation--and they've had it longer than we have--has proven that it doesn't work.

The École Polytechnique was obviously a horrible crime. The gun registry would not have stopped what happened at the École Polytechnique. You cannot stop a madman who is intent on carrying out a crime like that. It would not have had any impact whatsoever.

We talk about the drastic measures that we're being told we're trying to take, but we're not talking about repealing Bill C-17 at all. That's been there for a long time and it's going to stay there. Criminal behaviour hasn't changed. We're not talking about the inanimate object, we're talking about the person. When you talk about equating drugs with guns, drugs are not legal, period. Firearms are legal, with restrictions, which we have in Bill C-17.

The firearms causing most of the damage in Canada are illegal firearms. Obviously criminals don't register their firearms, and we know that. Those guns are not coming, by and large, from peoples' basements, they're coming across the border. That's a fact. Any police association will tell you that. Canada Border Services will tell you that. Nobody is going to deny that women, that Canadians, that everybody needs protection from people who will intentionally cause them damage.

I have another problem with quoting statistics that go back to 1995 when the long gun registry didn't even come into effect until 1998. Reductions from between 1995 and 1998 have nothing to do with the question at hand. My problem with this argument always has been, on any side of an argument, that people use misleading data, misleading statistics, and half-truths to suit their arguments. Everybody on any side of an argument does that, and I'd be the first to acknowledge that.

I'd just like to finish with the suggestion that, if we are going to do this, we do indeed call some witnesses, including--no kidding--front line police officers, not chiefs of police associations. I don't know why some of them have done the politically expedient thing that they have done, but I can tell you that up to and including assistant commissioners of the RCMP, they're not buying this. Frankly, I don't buy it either. [....]

Think what a couple of billion dollars would buy.


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