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Harper will destroy long gun data despite Quebec’s pending court challenge

Via The Globe and Mail:

Brushing off attacks from Quebec and the opposition, Mr. Harper and his ministers said they will not wait for the court ruling to fulfill a campaign promise to get rid of the registry and its unreliable data.
[…]

The Quebec government, along with all political parties in the province and the majority of Quebeckers, have been strongly opposed to abolishing the gun registry. Quebec insisted that it needs the data to set up its own registry. Mr. Dutil said it would be too costly for the province to reconstitute the data in the registry once it was destroyed.

The long gun registry is demonstrably effective in reducing domestic murders, and the public continues to empathize with the victims of the Montreal Massacre, and nobody’s taken into account how much it will cost in not only increased gun injuries, suicides, and the possibilities of trafficking, but also for the actual destruction of the database. There are no upsides except to give the tinfoil-hatted gun owners a present and woo them to vote Conservative who think registering their gun is tantamount to providing criminals with a shopping list (like criminals have access to it any more than they do to a car registry as a shopping list!), or providing law enforcement with reasons for sudden search-and-seizure (which doesn’t bloody happen — find a case where it did!). Nobody’s done a real and honest cost-benefit analysis, outside the RCMP, who comes down nearly uniformly on the side of keeping the registry. The abolition of the long gun registry means there is absolutely no way to enforce that only licensed users purchase firearms, and no way of telling who owns what except on the honour system. This is universally a bad move. And yet the spammer trolls will keep coming. Probably asking the exact same questions and getting the exact same answers. Let’s see if they come up with anything novel on this one.

The only light at the end of this dark tunnel that Harper wants Canada to plunge headlong into, is the light from a firearm muzzle. Hopefully the courts agree that the registry should be retained and that Harper’s government, in destroying it prematurely, acted in contempt of court. Wanna place odds on that actually happening, though?

Comments

  1. says

    This frustrates me so much. The registry makes sense. There’s data showing it’s effective at reducing murders. The only possible reason I can see for this is to bring Canada more in line with a much more violent United States.

  2. Aliasalpha says

    If there’s pending court action on this data, wouldn’t it be illegal to delete it? Kind of like deleting records of your dodgy financial dealings when you’ve got an audit tomorrow

  3. municipalis says

    I don’t understand why it’s possible to run on a “tough on crime” platform, promising to shell out billions for new prisons, while getting rid of the gun registry which every cop in the country has said is effective and useful.

  4. jolo5309 says

    The long gun registry is demonstrably effective in reducing domestic murders,

    Wrong, this is from the CBC article you used as a source:
    Reduction in the rate for spousal homicides involving firearms from 1980 to 2009: – 74% from nearly three per million spouses in 1980 to less than one per million spouses in 2009, according to Statistics Canada

    This shows there has been a decrease since 1980, not 1991.

    From the same CBC article.
    Share of firearm-related spousal homicides involving a long gun: 50% (The rate of long-gun spousal suicides dropped about 80% between 1983 and 2009.)

    The long gun registry was a knee jerk reaction to the Montreal Massacre and the method used by the feds at the time was ham-fisted and poorly done.

    Hopefully the courts agree that the registry should be retained and that Harper’s government, in destroying it prematurely, acted in contempt of court.

    Why would they agree the registry should be retained? I won’t argue with you on destroying the records because they should be waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on it.

  5. says

    In 1977, Canada implemented stronger long gun restrictions — specifically, that they had to start obtaining licenses and store them safely. This was an excellent first step. People could still hand guns to one another with impunity though, as there was no registry, so the license requirement was impossible to regulate. I’m confident that Lepine would have failed recertification and thus would have lost his right to own the gun he did.

    Beyond that, you’re cherry-picking the data. The incidence of gun-related homicide was almost all the way up to 1980 levels in 1992. The precipitous decline and the fact that it STAYED declined can likely safely be directly attributed to the long gun registry. Especially as concerns moments-of-passion crimes when rural men decide their wives need killin’.

    But this is, of course, speculative. Again, how many babies has condom usage prevented? How many potential mass murderers were unable to obtain a gun at the height of their mental imbalance?

    I’m certain that the best way to solve this quandry is with further data. Let’s wait ten years, and see if there is a statistically significant uptick in long gun crime, including suicides. If there is no such uptick, and long gun crimes stay good and low (or lower) without the registry, I will gladly renege on my wanting to keep information we’ve collected on guns. Bonfiring that information is ludicrous and pandering to tinfoil-hatters, period.

  6. lordshipmayhem says

    I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with the consensus here. The only way that the long gun registry could possibly have decreased the number of long-gun homicides is if it were used to remove long guns from peoples’ hands.

    But it wasn’t used to strip long guns from Canadian residents. It just told the cops who actually had a legally registered long gun, and how many of those types of long guns a person had. The long guns were, and are, still out there.

    I think the decrease in long-gun homicides were reflective of a decrease in deer hunting as a sport, rather than firearms registration. I’ve looked at the same stats, and I really don’t see any connection between registration and long-gun deaths.

    In fact, in Toronto, I’m hard-pressed to think of a single case of gun crime over the past 25 years, be it domestic violence or not, that involved a legal firearm of any description. One man shot another outside a strip club with a legal handgun, but that’s it for Toronto that I can recall. I will freely admit that there may be others, but they are very rare.

    Most of our most violent gun crimes involve handguns that were illegally obtained. Some gun crimes involve firearms that are not merely restricted, but are prohibited from possession by anyone other than our military or police forces.

  7. jolo5309 says

    The incidence of gun-related homicide was almost all the way up to 1980 levels in 1992.

    A one year spike is not the basis of a good argument. If I use the same analysis I could argue that the registry is responsible for an increase in murders by sawed off shotguns. The charts show that murders from sawed off shotguns was essentially zero the year the homicide rate from long guns happened and has climbed since then.

  8. jolo5309 says

    Whoops, missed this chart on StatsCan website, it is the raw data showing the rate per year:
    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2011001/article/11561/c-g/desc/desc07-eng.htm

    1982 was the high point for homicides by long guns at .58/100,000 and it had slowly decreased to .22/100,000 by 1995 (the year it was actually law). The following 15 years saw it halved. This tells me that the rate of homicides by long gun was already decreasing.

    I can go into the search rates for it but I will leave it at this:
    As of June 2010, the CFRO is reportedly accessed 14,012 times per day. Only 530 (3.7%) of those “hits” are specific to firearms registration (licence number, serial number and certificate number). The remaining 13,482 (96.3%) are automatically generated every time an address is checked or a licence plate is verified.
    The specific registry hits are not limited to use by police officers and also include legal sales of firearms. Every time a firearm is legally purchased, 3 hits are generated on the CFRO — one for the buyer, one for the seller, and one for the firearm.

  9. Josh says

    I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with the consensus here. The only way that the long gun registry could possibly have decreased the number of long-gun homicides is if it were used to remove long guns from peoples’ hands.

    Disagree completely. It is a deterrent to know the police, having found a person who was shot with, say, a .308 have a list of nearby folk who are known to own a rifle of that caliber.

    As an American citizen and gun rights enthusiast, I’m a supporter of gun registration across the board (along with licensing and mandated training similar to driver’s licenses). With proper guarantees (with teeth!) against seizure of legally owned firearms for spurious reasons, which as noted is vanishingly rare anyway, such a listing does absolutely no harm to law-abiding gun owners. Especially when it’s clear, given the electoral climate in many places in Canada, that gun regulation (in the sense of preventing ownership) is generally not a strong political positive.

    Harper’s administration is fighting a threat that doesn’t exist to appease Conservatives with more guns than brain cells, IMHO.

  10. says

    I’m a crazy American gun owner and I completely agree with keeping the registry in place (at least for you dangerous Canadians) but I’m confused by this:

    The abolition of the long gun registry means there is absolutely no way to enforce that only licensed users purchase firearms

    Wouldn’t the buyer be required to show that she is eligible to purchase a firearm at the time of purchase? That’s the way we do it here…

  11. says

    “But it wasn’t used to strip long guns from Canadian residents. It just told the cops who actually had a legally registered long gun, and how many of those types of long guns a person had. The long guns were, and are, still out there.”

    Thousands of guns have been removed from homes by police where domestic disputes or psychotic breaks have been reported, because of the long-gun registry.

    “Wouldn’t the buyer be required to show that she is eligible to purchase a firearm at the time of purchase? That’s the way we do it here…”

    The new requirement is the seller only needs to ‘believe’ that the buyer has a license but that no record can be kept of any validation of that licence. In other words, NO accountability for the seller.

  12. Chuck S says

    Since I live in a fairly liberal gun laws state (Maine) and travel over the Northeast U.S., I would like to put a couple of things into (my) perspective.

    The biggest deterrence to violent crime is a good police force with actual ties to the community-Canada has this. American big cities don’t, and many American police forces (and the politicos who determine how they operate) have created professional uniformed forces that are effectively a community of their own. They have minimal ties to the communities they police and are seen by the poor and middle classes more as occupying forces than allies.

    The number of firearms available to potential criminals is the key determinant to their use in crime. Period. Gun laws have no effect on crime except as they impact the availability of firearms to the potential or practicing criminal. Registration cannot impact crimes of passion unless it reduces the availability of firearms to those likely to commit them. Since such individuals can usually be identified only after the fact, only mass confiscation, such as seizing all weapons of persons involved in any kind of domestic dispute, is effective.

    The existence of professional uniformed forces creates a paranoia (and paranoids do have enemies) among people with a strong sense of independence. Gun owners tend to be more likely to be good with their hands, skilled in multiple trades and willing to fix their own problems. They are self-reliant and tend to accept responsibility and authority more comfortably. Those most concerned with gun control tend to be “people skilled” and expect others to perform tasks for them. They are less self-reliant and more likely to rely on others to perform tasks outside their own areas of expertise.

    Historically, gun owners point to mass disarming of citizens as a first step of any government concerned with citizen resistance to totalitarian government. This is accurate. They also point out that areas with the strictest gun control have the highest crime rates. This is also accurate, though it is also a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type question.

    Bearing in mind the above, the difference between the two sides is simple. Who gets to make the laws? Who decides how they are enforced? Some citizens believe that a certain number of people in any group will engage in criminal behavior, the number varying with economic circumstance and social stress, and that dealing with such people is as much the responsibility of the community as the police and courts. They want to retain the tools to handle their own problems should the need arise.

  13. jolo5309 says

    Thousands of guns have been removed from homes by police where domestic disputes or psychotic breaks have been reported, because of the long-gun registry.

    Evidence please

    The new requirement is the seller only needs to ‘believe’ that the buyer has a license but that no record can be kept of any validation of that licence. In other words, NO accountability for the seller.

    Hogwash, you are required to have a valid PAL (Possession & Acquisition License).

  14. lordshipmayhem says

    <BlockquoteDisagree completely. It is a deterrent to know the police, having found a person who was shot with, say, a .308 have a list of nearby folk who are known to own a rifle of that caliber.

    It does provide a list of legal long guns of that calibre. Any weapons that have not been registered but are in the area, and that would include weapons prohibited by law and stolen weapons, would be completely absent from that list.

  15. lordshipmayhem says

    Municipalis @ 3:

    every cop in the country has said is effective and useful.

    Not a true statement. The Association of Chiefs of Police think it’s useful, but then they’re not on the front line; the association that represents the rank-and-file begs to disagree with their bosses. The latter organization is on record as stating that they largely ignore it as you have to go into a situation assuming that illegal weapons are present – prohibited or stolen, or just never registered.

    In the Greater Toronto Area we had a series of break-and-enters that seemed to target residences listed as having long guns in them. The street police whispered to the press their impression that someone had cracked the LGR and was using it as a sort of Craigslist, “Come here, steal me!” Last I heard, most if not all were still out there on the street.

  16. DaveL says

    Beyond that, you’re cherry-picking the data.

    Ahem. Amid a widespread decline in crime across the board, you manage to find one particular crime that fits the time period you need, and proceed to declare the registry to be “demonstrably effective.” And he’s cherry-picking the data?

    And how did “demonstrably effective” become “can likely safely be directly attributed” and finally “speculative”?

  17. jolo5309 says

    And where is the proof of this transaction going to be stored?

    Most likely the business records of the place that sold the firearm, just like when I go and buy an axe or shovel.

    , shows numbers of affidavits produced via long gun registry. 3606 in 2007.

    From the report that chart came from:
    The Canada Firearms Centre assists the policing community and Crown prosecutors by preparing affidavits that certify licensing or registration information related to individuals or firearms. Typically, affidavit requests are required to determine which firearms an individual has registered to them or to determine if a given firearm is registered.

    http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/rep-rap/2007-comm-rpt/sec5-eng.htm#Affidavit

    These are not firearms being removed but instead are being checked for legality. Do you see the difference?

    And you accuse others of cherry picking the data.

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