Home CommentaryOpinions Harper has long-gun registry in the crosshairs

Harper has long-gun registry in the crosshairs

by The Concordian November 8, 2011
Harper has long-gun registry in the crosshairs
The Quebec government is requesting to keep its long-gun registry records, just as the Conservative federal government plans on scrapping the entire thing, a controversial move a lot of people are questioning.
The registry was put in place in 1995, after the tragic Polytechnique massacre in Montreal in 1989. It costs $2.2 billion and holds the records of more than 7.1 million guns acquired in the past decade in Canada. The Conservative government, however, sees it as useless, saying it singles out rifle-carrying farmers and hunters who follow the rules.
The only Canadian provinces that are in favor of abolishing the long gun registry are Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, all Harper strongholds with large rural areas.
However, that is the only reason the long-gun registry should be abolished. Maria Peluso, a Concordia political science professor and anti-gun activist, has been involved with the long-gun registry for an extended period of time. She said that if the Harper government removed the registry, something that has been scientifically proven to save lives, it would put Canadian lives in danger, under section 7 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Everyone is entitled to their security and their lives, and the government is deliberately putting our lives in danger right now. Where is the security for our life?” said Peluso.
Harper also argued that registering all guns is useless because people need to get a license to own guns in Canada anyway. He failed, however, to realize that registration and licensing aren’t the same thing. Once you have a gun licensed, it does not have to be renewed again, whereas registration gives you many advantages, such as having “registered” gun users in a database, complete with names and addresses.
“The government has no revenue whatsoever with gun licensing,” said Peluso. “It’s terrible that there are so many more licenses than registrations.”
The data acquired since 1995 is overwhelming. On average, every single police station in Canada uses the registry about 14,385 times a day. Denis Côté, head of the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, recently told The Gazette that a big majority of average daily searches of the federal registry are conducted by Quebec.
Crime associated with long-gun use has also gone down significantly (65 per cent), according to Peluso, since the insertion of the long-gun registry. These numbers cannot be ignored, but Harper’s majority is blinding him.
Quebec and Ontario are, so far, the only provinces to request to keep their long-gun registry data. The data would in fact be very useful to police stations and government officials in both provinces. The Conservatives haven’t yet made the decision of whether or not they will give this information to Quebec.
Quebec is also emotionally involved in the gun registry. Three of the most tragic incidents involving shootings in Canada happened here: the Polytechnique massacre (1989), the Concordia shootings (1992), and the Dawson College shooting (2006). An enormous database with everyone who possesses guns would therefore be of critical importance to the provincial government.
Quebec and Ontario also hold the most registered users in the system, and have almost half of Canada’s entire population. To scrap it would be a huge loss, especially for these provincial governments.
Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, recently told The Gazette that it would make sense to link potential provincial gun registries because police officers in both Ontario and Quebec already share a lot of gun-related information. “If Quebec moved that way Ontario would most likely consider it,” he said.
Let’s agree, however, that this is not a perfect world. Keeping the long-gun registry here in Quebec doesn’t mean that everyone in possession of a long-gun would be in our database, many being able to slip under the radar with guns acquired from the growing black market. However, it would allow us to keep an eye on most citizens in possession of such dangerous firearms. To have to start from scratch here in Quebec would most certainly not happen because of the enormous costs associated with it.
So we must ask ourselves a critical question: why is Stephen Harper hesitating to give Quebec its own records? The “innocent farmers and hunters with rifles” don’t really apply here, because most of our population lives in cities. Is it really so that farmers and hunters are put at ease? There are bigger issues at stake here, such as the safety of our citizens from dangerous firearms.

Related Articles


youngstructural2003 November 8, 2011 - 13:56

Okay; where to start…
-Licenses *do* have to be renewed.
-There are *not* more licenses than registrations
-Hits (ie: references to the registry) are automatically generated by computer.  They are not requested by officers, and in fact officers cannot specifically query the database from their cars.
-Gun crime has been decreasing steadily (without any acceleration due to licensing or registration) since *before* the long gun registry was put in place.
A fun exercise for those of you still in school:
Q: What “scientific evidence” of the effectiveness of the LGR can be provided?
A: None; all evidence to support the LGR are cherry-picked statistics, lies, and damn lies (to put a new turn on an old phrase).
Note that I am not against Gun Control, but am very much against irrational, emotion based, reactionary legislation without any tangible benefit.  Rex Murphy perhaps said it best when he defined the Long Gun Registry as “useless”… Look that one up on YouTube, it is well worth the time.

menexisbro November 8, 2011 - 15:49

Anything that puts people who buy guns under the radar shouldn’t be considered “useless”, as you and Rex put it. And the slow decrease you were talking about has increased substantially since the emplacement of the registry. 

Officers can access the database from their stations as I said. Not one part of the article implies that they request it or access it from their cars. 

Please fact check thoroughly if you decide to write a comment next time.

youngstructural2003 November 8, 2011 - 20:23

Okay menexisbro, I’ll fact check better if you do…
-licensing versus registration (there are not more licenses than registrations)
-licenses do have to be renewed
-Check your graphs again re rates of decrease; be careful to filter for the 1990s when the liberal government of the day changed the statistical recording methodology.

I added the point about access from the cruisers, but the total of hits are still automated and not generated by use at “every single police station”. In order to have the daily use totals, and be consistent with english grammar, you’d need hundreds of thousands of hits per day. Sorry, but even the ever-increasing-inflatable statistic of registry use hasn’t made it beyond the 19000 times per day mark.

You have an old inflationary statistic! Check the latest point of pointless inflation; I’m sure you’ve needlessly come closer to the truth in the statistic used in the article.
And please note that, at best, my “inaccuracy” is a qualitative one, your’s is quantitative.  I would venture to suggest that it is the author’s responsibility to get at least the basics correct…

bdrusoy November 8, 2011 - 21:10

There was a massive 80%+ decrease in overall crime since the 1980′s – why would you (expensively and unsupportedly) attribute any post-1995 decrease to the LGR, instead of simply being part of an overall crime decrease quite independant of any LGR-effect ?

After all, there was no LGR when this significant statical trend began (though perhaps the LGR actually slowed the rate of crime decrease, if you really wish to play with statistics?).

Homicide rates have been falling since 1977, long before the LGR was even introduced. In addition, hand gun related crimes have always been higher, and it has been law to register hand guns since the 1930s. Moreover, isn’t it “odd” how countries and jurisdictions that push for increased firearm regulation always seem to face skyrocketing crime rates AFTER said legislation and measures are pushed through?

CanadianLiberalist November 8, 2011 - 22:24

You need to learn to fact check. Stats Canada is where one should go for more info, not the CGC. Gun crime has been decreasing since 1975. Gun registration was not mandatory until 2003 so it is ridiculous to assert that it is responsible.

To disprove you, from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics – http://pic.twitter.com/obNlfQ9P

Cameron Ahmad November 8, 2011 - 16:17

Irrational? Ending the gun registry defines
Police forces across the country have expressed
their fury over Harper’s plan, which only benefits the interests of one group:
gun lobbyists.
Emotion based? This “reactionary”
legislation only reacts to the will of Harper’s rural, gun-loving, right-wing
voting base – in the prairies… the ONLY provinces where scrapping the
registration is supported.
Gun-owners complain that the registry “singles
them out”. If you have nothing to hide, and your gun isn’t used for the
wrong reasons, then why fear the registry?
Successful legislation in Canada requires
widespread, unified, support. In this case, the only group supporting Harper’s
plan is Harper’s base. ALL other parties and MOST provinces, including the
country’s two biggest, disagree vehemently.
Quebec’s Leg. Assembly voted unanimously in favour
of maintaining the registry!
You might be in the wrong place… this isn’t Texas.

youngstructural2003 November 8, 2011 - 20:29

Your comment about Texas shows just how biased you are; bigotry does not only apply when “certain groups” make discriminatory or prejudicial comments about minorities.  If you make a comment about Texans with the intent of casting them, as a group, in a poor light you have shown yourself to be a bigot.  I’m not a great fan of bigotry; that is simply a quick trip off a short pier into argumentum ad hominem.

As for legislation requiring a broad base, the registry was brought in under *only* the support of the Urban Centres (UC) of this country… The rural areas had it forced upon them, without option or relent.  That means that according to your own metric, it was never valid legislation.

Better luck next time…  I’m sure there will be another opportunity to force fascism (defined as the good of the state, or the many, above the one, or the few) onto people who you don’t like, just not this particular law.

bdrusoy November 8, 2011 - 21:01

Sadly, you err in – surprise, surprise – matters of detail. Which is easy to do when emotional anti-firearm arguments are posited, as oppose to fact-based ones.
It is not the police forces across the country who have expressed “fury” over the end of the long-gun registry: only select, desk-bound police-chiefs who’ve tied their past careers and future political aspirations to the
Juggernaut-of-uselessness that is the incomplete, inaccurate and insecure database.
Front-line police officers neither trust nor embrace the long-gun registry. And they’ve gone on record as saying so. Failure to differentiate between the select, vocal politicking police chiefs who have vested interests in the registry’s continuation and the front-line officers who stare in disbelief at the wasted funds is where your response utterly falls apart and fails to persuade.

Nathan Levinetz November 9, 2011 - 00:26

If I have nothing to hide then why fear governmental intrusion into my private life?  Also, so we’re all clear, the conservative majority came to power because the majority of Canada liked the platforms put forth.  How is it that only the prairies want the LGR gone if the Conservatives managed to win the majority and decimate the Liberals?  Clearly sir you are a member of the minority, don’t sell it as if most of Canada likes this USELESS tool.  Furthermore, I am an Ontarian born and raised and I and many people I know can’t wait for the LGR to be done with.  Get outside of Toronto and tell me EVERYONE wants to keep it.

Cameron Ahmad November 9, 2011 - 21:34

The Conservatives did not win the popular vote. I am a member of the majority who did not vote for Harper. The 60.38% majority.

menexisbro November 8, 2011 - 16:20

visit the Coalition for Gun Control website for more facts. 

youngstructural2003 November 8, 2011 - 20:24

I was someone who read their releases for years, until it was clear that half truths are routinely passed off as “facts”

snufflupagus November 8, 2011 - 21:08

that’s the funniest thing on this page…. even funnier than that cartoon of Harper with a pistol. I weep for our future.

bdrusoy November 8, 2011 - 21:25

I actually like the image of seperatism being shot-down in flames….but why isn’t the QC flag NDP-orange ?

bdrusoy November 8, 2011 - 21:11

The Coalition for Gun Control does not deal in facts.

Just ask the South African victims of violent crime that Wendy Cukier – via a lucrative “consulting” gig – helped to disarm.

Jan Ward November 8, 2011 - 21:30

What “facts”?….Wendy’s website deals strictly in lies, deceit and misinformation…Just a little research on your part may have revealed that, IF you were truly interested in facts….

Turfman Jones November 8, 2011 - 21:28

That article was perhaps the poorest written, grammatically and factually challenged piece of journalistic garbage I’ve read since picking up the Toronto Star this morning. If I was your journalism professor and you handed that in as an assignment an “F” would have been the least of your worries. You might want to think about a different line of work.

I do give you credit for having a sense of humour though. That line about using the “Coalition for Gun Control” website as a source for fact checking was priceless. Maybe you could get a job writing for “Just for Laughs”.

Michel_T November 8, 2011 - 21:36

>> On average, every single police station in Canada uses the registry about 14,385 times a day

Well, that should be reason enough to scrap it… 14,385 queries a day, for 15 years… and not one single crime solved nor prevented.

I would be hard press to find a more useless government program!

Jeffrey Quesnel November 8, 2011 - 21:44

The fact that any website or paper would allow this poorly written, misleading, fear-mongering article to be published under their name makes me worry about the future of news reporting in this country. As pointed out in a number of previous posts this article is full of inaccuracies and lies and will not waste my time or the readers pointing any more out.  The Concordian editors should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to be published.

otterdriver November 9, 2011 - 00:52

Charter violations of the long gun registry have been largely ignored throughout the debate.  If ending the registry violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, then what about the rights that are violated by keeping it?  Right to liberty, Right to security of the person, Right to procedural fairness, Right against unreasonable search and seizure, Right to privacy, Right to be presumed innocent, Right against arbitrary detention, Right to freedom of expression, Right to bear arms, Right to counsel upon arrest or detention, Right to property, and Equality rights.  


Leave a Comment