Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A note on the gun registry

It'll never be missed, at least not by me.

Does that make me a Tory redneck knuckledragger? I sure hope not.

I had the same knee-jerk response to the registry as any other progressive when it was created. Gun control? Good. Who could oppose such a thing, except ignorant yahoos clutching their guns and religion?

Then I had the chance to talk to some Yukoners who were anything but, one cold and wintry day at the Gold Rush Inn in Whitehorse. At which time, as it happens, I connected with my partner-to-be.

They actually engaged me, these members of the Yukon Employees' Union, rather than dissing the southern city feller for my absurd remarks about surrogate dangly bits. How many of Canada's gun crimes are committed with long guns? (One in ten.) Why do folks in the country have such guns to begin with? (Hunting and predator control.) Has the registry reduced gun crime? (No.)

[Warning: Conservative propaganda masquerading as a government information site ahead. But it's hard to quarrel with the statistics. --Ed.]

  • There are nearly 7 million registered long-guns in Canada. Yet of 2,441 homicides recorded in Canada since mandatory long-gun registration was introduced in 2003, fewer than 2 percent (47) were committed with rifles and shotguns known to have been registered. (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics).
  • Illegal smuggling by organized crime is by far the principal source of firearms on our streets. Indeed, the Vancouver police report that 97 percent of firearms seized in 2003 were illegal guns smuggled in from the United States, usually by organized crime (Vancouver Police, Strategic Plan 2004-08).
Just in case readers draw the wrong conclusion from the first, ah, bullet, here is a table of interest, tracking gun-related homicides in Canada*:

[Source: Sheptycki, J. "Guns, crime and social order: A Canadian perspective." Criminology and Criminal Justice 2009: 9, p.320.]

Note that long gun crime has been decreasing steadily, well before the registry came into existence.

I know the right wing is gun-happy for all sorts of reasons, with the NRA being a particularly lethal example (my late partner was, however, a member of the National Rifle Association of Canada, a Canadian Ranger and a damned good shot!). But you don't have to be a conservative to see the cynicism and tomfoolery built into the gun registry. Ineffective, grossly expensive--the word "boondoggle" leaps to mind.

As I say--I won't miss it when it's gone, and the good-bye process is likely to start later today.

*Thanks to reader "forgottobuytinfoil" for prompting me to make Figure 3 a little clearer. "[F]rom about 1991 handguns surpassed long-guns in homicide statistics prevalence in Canada (Figure 3). What this Figure shows, using data available in 2006, is that after three years of increases, the gun-homicide rate decreased 16 per cent to about the same level as 20 years previously. In that year, 190 people (31% of homicide victims) were killed with a gun, 33 fewer than the previous year. The longer-term trend in gun-homicide shows a general decline since the mid-1970s, similar to the trend in total homicides. After the 'cross-over' in 1991 the rate of handgun homicide remained relatively constant while the homicide rate for long-guns continued its historic decline." Sheptycki, J., p.318.


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