Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fiery Debate

Well, it seems “Liberal” MP Roger Galloway is at it again, this time trying to blow apart the gun registry. Not surprisingly, a lot of Liberals aren’t very happy about this, even those who have spoken out against the registry in the past. While I wouldn’t say it too loudly in Alberta for fear of being shot, I’m a big supporter of the gun registry – the cost overruns were unfortunate but it still provides bang for the buck. Gun violence costs Canadians 6 billion dollars a year and the registry works. Why? Here are 8 reasons why:

1. All illegal guns start out as legal guns. The registry tells us exactly when a legal gun becomes an illegal gun.

2. Forcing people to register guns discourages casual gun use. Let’s face it, owning a gun is a big responsibility and filling out an extra form is the least we can ask of people.

3. The registry gets used. Police check it over 2,000 times a day and all major Police organizations in Canada support it. As do countless other groups who are concerned about, you know, getting killed.

4. The registry helps the courts. If Billy-Joe is charged with spousal abuse or a violent crime, the court can see if he has any guns (and therefore take them away from him). Similarly, if someone develops a mental illness that forbids them from owning guns, the courts can find out if the individual owns weapons.

5. The registry is good for gun owners. If a stolen weapon is recovered, the only real way to return it to its original owner is if there’s a registry telling us who the legal owner is.

6. The registry provides accountability. By connecting the gun to its owner, it forces the owner to store his or her gun safely. Safe storage prevents guns being stolen, heat of the moment use, and children playing with daddy’s gun.

7. Accountability also means there are huge disincentives for selling a weapon to an unlicensed individual. Because you’re the last owner of the gun, you’ll make sure you only sell your gun to a licensed individual or else you’re connected to whatever they do with it. Similarly, there’s an added incentive to report stolen weapons.

8. Registration helps with prosecution of criminals. Without a gun registry it’s very hard to prove someone owns a gun illegally.


17 Comments:

  • Nice view and nicely written, but perhaps missing the main point ... the purpose of the gun registry.

    Research and articles posted to date have failed to find one instance of the gun registrys information actually having contributed to the solution of a crime.

    Doesn't sound too cost-effective to me. No, there's no reason not to cut back extensively on the costs of this woe-begone program, if not scrap it entirely.

    As usual, the view is that a program is fine provided that everyone else pays for it too. Let's make only the gun owners pay for the cost of the registry, and see how far that gets.

    Just a viewpoint from the editor at thiscanada.com
    http://www.thiscanada.com

    By Blogger thiscanada.com, at 9:09 PM  

  • I think the editor of thiscanada.com missed the point a bit, too, Grit.

    I think of the gun registry as primarily a crime (or accident)prevention tool. Reasons one through seven that you gave see it through that light. Number eight did relate to crime solving, but I think the registry stands as an important tool on it own merits.

    By Blogger Timmy the G, at 3:12 PM  

  • All you need is a nutter president and a relo of Texas and all will be solved.

    By Blogger Blog ho, at 3:24 PM  

  • We, in the U.S. and Canada have to register a vehicle, car, motorcycle, the like, why should guns not be monitored as well? If you are doing nothing illegal, what is the problem?

    By Blogger treehuggingoat, at 5:33 PM  

  • First: If I'm thread-jacking, or breaching some other point of etiquette (or netiquette) by posting all 8 reasons & then commenting about them, my apologies.

    I've put quotes around CG's points, and mine follow:

    "1. All illegal guns start out as legal guns. The registry tells us exactly when a legal gun becomes an illegal gun."

    ME: Not really. If a crook smuggles a gun (or buys a smuggled gun) that crossed the border from the USA - which seems to be a bit of a concern these days - then it'll never appear in the registry. Granted, the registry wasn't designed to solve this problem, but it shows that there's some pressing issues out there that aren't dealt with in a registry plagued with (ahem) "cost overruns".

    "2. Forcing people to register guns discourages casual gun use. Let’s face it, owning a gun is a big responsibility and filling out an extra form is the least we can ask of people."

    ME: I'm not so sure it would discourage "casual gun use" (maybe b/c I'm not sure what's meant by "casual") but I don't think forcing law-abiding folks to register guns does a whole lot to discourage *criminal* gun use.

    "3. The registry gets used. Police check it over 2,000 times a day and all major Police organizations in Canada support it. As do countless other groups who are concerned about, you know, getting killed."

    ME: I believe you 100% regarding this point. And certainly, the feelings of police and (especially) victims' groups deserve lots of consideration & respect. But their views aren't necessarily determinative on this issue of public policy any more than the views of police should be on, say, pot decriminalization. In other words, we should listen to them, but not *only* to them. If the registry isn't accomplishing its goals, and/or isn't doing so at a reasonable, sustainable cost, and/or if there are other, better ways of accomplishing those goals, then the fact that the status quo has some support is - well, not irrelevant at all, but *less* relevant.

    "4. The registry helps the courts. If Billy-Joe is charged with spousal abuse or a violent crime, the court can see if he has any guns (and therefore take them away from him). Similarly, if someone develops a mental illness that forbids them from owning guns, the courts can find out if the individual owns weapons."

    ME: This is a fair point, so far as it goes. It doesn't help in cases where (a) Billy-Joe buys his gun from someone less law-abiding than your average Canadian, or (b) the person with the mental illness acts on his impulses before the courts find out, but again, it is a fair point.

    "5. The registry is good for gun owners. If a stolen weapon is recovered, the only real way to return it to its original owner is if there’s a registry telling us who the legal owner is."

    ME: Again, this may be true - although it begs the question: if this was the purpose of the registry, (a) is this really the most cost-effective way of achieiving that purpose, and (b) if returning stolen goods to their owner is so important, you could say that we should have registries for just about everything. In any event, should I be forced to register for that purpose?

    "6. The registry provides accountability. By connecting the gun to its owner, it forces the owner to store his or her gun safely. Safe storage prevents guns being stolen, heat of the moment use, and children playing with daddy’s gun."

    ME: God help us if the only reason someone stores his/her gun safely is b/c of the registry. By the same token, if someone is dumb enough to leave his/her loaded gun lying around, I doubt that having to register it would change his/her mind. I would want some evidence that the registry achieves this purpose before I accepted it as a rationale.

    "7. Accountability also means there are huge disincentives for selling a weapon to an unlicensed individual. Because you’re the last owner of the gun, you’ll make sure you only sell your gun to a licensed individual or else you’re connected to whatever they do with it. Similarly, there’s an added incentive to report stolen weapons."

    ME: This is, on my first reading, probably the best argument of the bunch. You make a good point here. However, if someone is intent on selling their gun on the sly, (a) I querry whether that person has taken the time to register it in the first place, and (b) even if s/he has, there are ways for even moderately clever crooks to get around the problem (burning off the serial #; reporting a fake robery; etc.).

    "8. Registration helps with prosecution of criminals. Without a gun registry it’s very hard to prove someone owns a gun illegally."

    ME: Prior to the registry, you could still be prosecuted if you had certain types of firearms (handguns, submachine guns, etc) unless you could prove that you had the proper paperwork. IIRC, there were other laws on the books before the registry that dealt with ownership of firearms, and for that matter, with stolen property in general, even if that property isn't registered.

    I guess my point (insofar as I have one) is this: I don't think we should can the registry b/c of what are described in your post as "cost overruns" (which is a bit like calling the Titanic a "maritime incident"). Those "costs" (i.e., our tax dollars) are gone and they aint comin' back.

    However, I do think it's incumbent on the government to show us that the registry is achieving its goals at a reasonable expense. I haven't seen a tap of evidence that the registry has had anything to do with preventing crime, *except* for the fact that a number of people were denied licenses (and I wonder if that will deter the more dangerous amongst them). The registry does have its uses - I tried to be positive re: some of the uses you referred to above - but if it's going to be a $$$ sinkhole, I don't know if those uses are worth the cost when there may be other ways of accomplishing the same mission.

    Anyway, sorry for the long-windery. This blog's a hell of a lot more hoppin' than my deadzone (even though being right wing in downtown Toronto has got to be at least as challenging as being a grit in Calgary), so kudos for that.

    - JH.

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 8:29 PM  

  • Jason: Good points on the response - it's nice to get some real debate on the issue, rather than the "it's my right dammit!" argument. You should get your blog up and running.

    I guess it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Like one of the Bloc MPs said, "just because you overpaid for your house, it doesn't mean you should burn it down". The government promises they'll get the cost down to 55 million a year which is reasonable in my opinion. The real problem is that it's hard to get cold numbers on whether or not the registry works because it's hard to record murders which don't happen. Gun violence is down in Canada but even I'll concede it's likely not because of the registry (at least not all of the drop).

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    By Blogger Lexie, at 12:37 PM  

  • The problem with your first point is that not all illegal guns in Canada started out as legal guns in Canada. If they are smuggled in from the US or anywhere else, there will be NO record of those guns in Canada. Therefore, how does the registry help us find black market guns??

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  • gun control is a waste of time and money. It is a hassle for everyone with guns and it has done nothing to crime it also keeps the honest people honest and the bad people bad guys in gangs are not going to register their guns

    By Blogger darcy, at 7:56 PM  

  • This whole shit about all illegal guns starting out as legal guns is bullshit, last statistic I heard said that 97% of firearms recovered from crime scenes were smuggled into Canada - where's the gun registry there? The police use the registry, but it's more of a convenience than anything, they still have training on how to deal with shit, there's a reason they have their own vests, guns, and don't go into these situations alone. Oh yeah, that "it costs $6 Billion a year" that was based off a flawed method, $4.9 Billion was pulled out of the guy's ass to represent "psychological damage" some of the rest was "productivity loses" which actually included the criminals and drug dealers. The medical costs were what it costs to treat them in the U.S, not what it costs here. About the court using it to see if a wife beater has guns, is bullshit, there's already a system for that, it's called an FAC, you have to own one in order to purchase firearms. As for lost or stolen weapons, there's already another system in that, what is compounding another one going to do? As for figuring out whether a gun is illegally owned, is bullshit, again, there's that FAC thing they check, no FAC, not legally owned. As for the last part, I would really like to hear a situation where a firearm was sold to a criminal, they could smuggle in whatever they want, why would they possibly bug me for my hunting rifle? Finally, since you're a misinformed, self righteous asshole, FUCK YOU!

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