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GUN NEWS AND GUN CONTROL CANADA

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Firearms ownership in Canada is a privilege. You must be in possession of a valid PAL to own firearms. There are three legal classifications of firearms, Non Restricted, Restricted and Prohibited. The Prohibited class is no longer available to new firearms owners. In addition there are three common types of firearms, Rifle, Shotguns and Handguns. You are responsible for your firearms twenty four hours a day. Remember criminals will always get firearms. After a very long battle and concerted efforts by firearm owners and shooting organizations the long gun registry is history. Effective June 15th 2015 challenges are no longer available.

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2015 has been a good year for legal firearms users. The coming year will definitely be a challenging period for us.We need to get organized and form a solid front. Therefore you are encouraged to belong to a shooting organization to help in this struggle. Those of you who are still on the fence hoping that the few individuals will carry on; on your behalf, think again all the help is needed. Play your part.

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES ARE INTENDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. IN MOST CASES THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR AND THE SOURCE HAVE BEEN INCLUDED WITH AVAILABLE LINKS. FEEL FREE TO USE THESE LINKS IF YOU HAVE ANY FEEDBACK.
 
In an effort to keep you up to date on current news and information relating to firearms, scroll down to the News and Link area.    .
 
 
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Egg in thier faces.

Red-faced RCMP officials have apologized to a Delta firearms firm and its owner after a headline-making 2008 raid supposedly to stop gun trafficking to gangsters.

On the eve of a lengthy civil trial over the incident Monday, the federal government settled out of court and, as part of the agreement, the force issued a rare exonerating letter over the bogus operation.

“I write on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to apologize for the search of the Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Inc. (“Silvercore”) premises in Delta, British Columbia, the seizure of Silvercore firearms inventory and records, the wrongful arrest of Travis Bader, and the prosecution of criminal charges against Travis Bader and Silvercore, which were ultimately stayed by Crown counsel,” Inspector Janis Gray said.

“I have conducted an exhaustive review of the police file and all of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the search, seizure, arrest and charges, and I have concluded that there is no evidence that either Silvercore or Travis Bader ever committed any criminal offences.”

Two Surrey RCMP Constables, David Clarke and Michael Everitt, provided with information by Canadian Firearms Centre officer Jeff Harrison, were behind the misguided operation.

The centre is responsible for administering the Firearms Act and the Firearms Registry, handling all licences and authorizations as well as the registration of restricted and prohibited firearms.

The police and firearms officer claimed they were only doing their duty in the investigation, reputedly triggered by an attempt by Bader’s father to register a restricted handgun.

“A letter of apology from RCMP brass confirming my innocence takes some of the sting out of the long delay, and we look forward to resuming our relationship with the RCMP and its members,” Bader said.

He started Silvercore in 2003 after roughly a decade of providing training in firearms and safety to police officers, sheriffs, corrections staff, Canadian Border Security guards and others.

As well as offering courses and training, his firm did gunsmithing and bought and sold firearms.

In the course of his business, much of it with law enforcement, Bader was authorized to possess, store and transfer restricted and prohibited firearms as well as regular guns.

Still, in May 2008, the RCMP raided the Delta company’s facility in the 7100-block of Vantage Way, alleging it was connected to guns that ended up in the hands of criminals.

According to police, decommissioned guns that could be easily reassembled and returned to working order were finding their way into the wrong hands.

Bader’s father, Gordon, is a retired 30-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department and was an instrutor with Silvercore.

The former ERT sniper and past director of the anti-gun-control lobby, the Responsible Firearms Owners Coalition of B.C., Gordon Bader was also a firearms instructor at the Justice Institute of B.C., which trains police officers, and a gunsmith at the Vancouver Police Museum.

Both father and son said at the time the accusations were rubbish.

Still, Travis added the “confusion, the anger, the embarrassment” were nearly unbearable.

The Mounties painted the arrests and the raid, during which hundreds of guns were seized, as a response to what was then a murderous spree of gang violence around Metro Vancouver that had claimed 31 lives.

Still two years later, one of the officers involved, Clarke, was charged with dealing drugs, theft of police property, breach of trust, and possession of a number of illegal restricted weapons.

All criminal charges against Silvercore and Bader were stayed on March 19, 2010, by Crown attorney Todd Buziak.

“From my review of the entirety of the information provided to me, I can advise you that neither Travis Bader nor Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Ltd. were involved in any criminal wrongdoing,” Buziak wrote in a letter after the charges were dropped.

All Firearms Act charges were stayed in May 2010.

“I think that everyone will understand that a letter of apology from the RCMP is a precious commodity and the settlement sum is confidential,” Bader’s lawyer Jason Gratl said.

The force has not yet responded to a request for explanation.

NO Surprise

Elimination of POLs and conversion of all valid POLs to PALs

Q1: I have a POL. What do I do?

A1: If you have a validFootnote* POL, you will be allowed to acquire firearms for the classes of firearms you had on your POL. A PAL will be issued to you when you renew your POL.

Footnote* A valid POL is one that is not expired.

Q2: I want to acquire firearms. What is the process to be issued a new PAL before it expires?

A2: Your POL card will provide you with the ability to acquire firearms immediately. You will receive a PAL card upon the renewal of your licence.

Q3: Is there a safety training requirement for converting my POL into a PAL?

A3: No. You are not required to take classroom safety training when your POL is converted to a PAL.

Q4: If my POL has expired, will I automatically receive a PAL?

A4: No. Your POL must be valid to qualify for the POL to PAL conversion.

Q5: If my POL expired, how do I get a PAL?

A5: If you have not already passed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC), to be eligible to apply for a PAL, classroom participation in the CFSC is mandatory. Once the course is completed, you will then have to pass the tests.

To apply for a PAL, individuals aged 18 and over are required to submit form RCMP 5592 / CAFC 921E.

Q6: The Government of Canada extended a regulatory compliance incentive allowing eligible holders of an expired POL to apply for a new POL until May 16, 2017. Can I still qualify?

A6: No. As of September 2, 2015, you can no longer apply for a new POL. Furthermore, the conversion of existing POLs to PALs happened automatically with no action required by holders of valid POLs.

Q7: I submitted a new POL application before legislative changes converting all POLs to PALs came into force on September 2, 2015. Will my application be processed?

A7: Yes. Applications for a new POL or a POL renewal that were submitted before legislative changes converting all POLs to PALs came into force on September 2, 2015 will be processed.

Q8: Why do I have to pay $80 to renew my PAL with restricted privileges when I only paid $60 to renew my POL?

A8: Firearms licensing fees did not change; however, legislative changes have converted all existing POLs to PALs. The fee payable for the issuance or renewal of a PAL is $80 if you have privileges that include restricted and prohibited firearms.

Q9: If I have a PAL and want to apply for a Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL), can I challenge the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC)?

A9: No. Challenges are no longer accepted. If you wish to obtain a RPAL, you must take the CRFSC and pass the tests.

Q10: Recently, based on CFP instructions, I took and paid for the CFSC to upgrade my POL to a PAL. Since all existing POLs will be converted to PALs, will I receive a refund for the course I took?

A10: No. The legislative changes do not include compensation if you previously upgraded from a POL to a PAL and paid for the CFSC.

Q11: When will my new PAL expire?

A11: Existing POLs are still valid and are treated as PALs for the classes of firearms you are licensed to possess. Existing licence expiration dates will not be affected and you will receive a new PAL card upon the renewal of your licence.

Q12: I do not want to acquire firearms. Can I keep my POL?

A12: No. The POL is no longer available.

ATTs become a condition of a licence for certain routine and lawful activities.Q13: What do the changes to ATTs mean?

A13: As of September 2, 2015, individuals with restricted or prohibited firearms may be eligible to have conditions attached to a firearms licence for certain routine and lawful transportation purposes.

Q14: I have a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purpose of target practice. Will ATT conditions be attached to my firearms licence automatically?

A14: Yes. As of September 2, 2015, if you are licenced and possess a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purposes of target practice, you will obtain, as a condition of your licence, the activities listed below.

These licence conditions authorize the transport of restricted and/or prohibited firearms registered to the licence holder within their province of residence by the most direct route possible for the specific indicated purposes.

Transportation of restricted firearms and/or prohibited handguns (12(6.1) of theFirearms Act) possessed for the purpose of target practice to and from all shooting clubs and ranges approved under section 29 of the Firearms ActTransportation of restricted firearms and/or prohibited firearms to and from any place a peace officer, firearms officer of Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) is located for verification, registration or disposal in accordance with the Firearms Act or Part III of the Criminal CodeTransportation of restricted firearms and/or prohibited firearms to and from a business that holds a licence authorizing it to repair or appraise prohibited or restricted firearms.Transportation of restricted firearms and/or prohibited firearms to and from a gun show.Transportation of restricted firearms and/or prohibited firearms to a port of exit, in order to take them outside Canada and from a port of entry.Transportation of newly acquired restricted firearms and/or prohibited firearms from the place of acquisition to the licence holder's dwelling house or other place authorized by the CFO.

Q15: I do not have a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purpose of target practice. Will ATT conditions be attached to my firearms licence automatically?

A15: No. If you do not possess a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purposes of target practice as of September 2, 2015, you will not get the transportation purposes added as a condition to your firearms licence.

See next question for additional information.

Q16: When will the conditions be added to my licence, since I don't have a valid ATT for transport to and from a shooting club or range for the purpose of target practice?

A16: If you do not possess a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purposes of target practice, you will get the relevant transportation purposes added as a condition to your firearms licence when you:

acquire your first restricted firearm;acquire additional restricted or prohibited firearms;request a new ATT during valid period of licence;request a replacement ATT during valid period of licence; or,renew your firearms licence with restricted and/or prohibited privileges.

Once the conditions have been added to the firearms licence, you are no longer required to request additional ATTs unless it is for a purpose other than those that have been added as a condition to the licence.

Depending on the purpose for which you acquire firearms, you either get all six conditions added to your licence as a condition (if you have acquired your firearms for target shooting) or you get just five conditions, excluding transport to and from an approved range (if you have acquired your firearms for collection purposes).

Q17: I have a paper ATT. Is it still valid?

A17: Yes. Existing paper ATTs are still valid.

Q18: Since ATTs will be a condition on a licence, and I currently have a valid paper ATT, will I receive a new licence card to reflect these changes?

A18: No. Existing paper ATTs remain valid until expiry. In addition, as of September 2, 2015, if you are a licensed client possessing a valid ATT to transport a firearm to and from a shooting club or range for the purposes of target practice, you have, as a condition on your licence, the six transportation conditions.

Q19: I don't have an ATT and would like to acquire one. What do I do?

A19: Call the CFP toll-free information line at 1-800-731-4000 to request an ATT.

Q20: Can an ATT that is "attached to" a firearms licence be revoked?

A20: Yes. CFOs still have the authority to revoke an ATT.

Q21: If I buy a restricted firearm for the first time after this change comes into force, will I be issued a new PAL card with the ATT conditions attached?

A21: Yes. Upon acquisition of your first restricted firearm, once a CFO confirms the acquisition purpose of the firearm, the CFP will issue you a new licence card indicating that special conditions are attached.

Q22: Once the ATT as a condition on the licence comes into force, will I receive all the conditions for transporting firearms on a piece of paper, as well as those same conditions being placed on my licence?

A22: If a licence card is reprinted as a result of the conditions being placed on the licence, you will receive a new licence card. On the card carrier (for the licence card) the normal standard conditions (i.e. that you must inform the CFO when you move or change your name) will be listed. The ATT conditions will also be listed on the card carrier under Special Conditions.

 

UN Firearms Marking System deferred to June 1, 2017

 

SOR/2015-195 July 16, 2015

FIREARMS ACT

Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations

P.C. 2015-1085 July 16, 2015

Whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that the change made to the Firearms Marking Regulations (see footnote a) by the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations is so immaterial and insubstantial that section 118 of the Firearms Act (see footnote b) should not be applicable in the circumstances;

And whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will, in accordance with subsection 119(4) of that Act, have a statement of the reasons why he formed that opinion laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to section 117 (see footnote c) of the Firearms Act (see footnote d), makes the annexedRegulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations.

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FIREARMS MARKING REGULATIONS

AMENDMENT

1. Section 6 of the Firearms Marking Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:

6. These Regulations come into force on June 1, 2017.

COMING INTO FORCE

2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

 

Issues: Deferral of the coming into force of the Firearms Marking Regulations to June 1, 2017. Additional consultation time is required to allow for the determination of a regime for marking firearms that will be beneficial for law enforcement crime gun investigations, without being too onerous for firearms businesses.
Description: The amendment defers the coming into force date of the Firearms Marking Regulations (the Regulations) for 18 months to June 1, 2017. The Regulations, which were made by the Governor in Council in 2004, are presently set to come into force on December 1, 2015.
Cost-benefit statement: No cost implications are anticipated with the deferral. The delayed coming into force will permit the Government to continue in depth consultations with a range of stakeholders about possible amendments to the Regulations, in order to institute a marking scheme that will aid domestic and international police investigations, without being onerous for firearms businesses.
“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, since there is no change in the administrative costs to business. The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs to small business.
Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Canada is signatory to the United Nations Firearms Protocol and the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) of the Organization of American States, which promote international cooperation to counter the illegal production and movement of firearms in the interest of public safety and national and global security. The Regulations were drafted to respond to the particular requirement of the treaties for the adoption of specific markings on firearms to enable crime guns to be traced, in order to combat organized crime and other criminal activities.

 

Background

The primary stated purpose for marking firearms is to enable law enforcement to trace crime guns, and the trafficking and stockpiling of firearms, in the interests of public safety and national security. Firearms tracing is a best practice undertaken at the outset of an investigation. Tracing is the systematic tracking of the history of recovered or seized firearms from the point of manufacture or importation through the supply chain until they become illicit. Tracing can offer early investigative leads, contribute to cost efficiencies for police by simplifying efforts, focus investigations given that time is critical to solving crimes, and help to build a strong evidentiary case to obtain a conviction.
The utility of some marking schemes for tracing, such as the existing Regulations, is diminished by the destruction of the long-gun registry and the absence of business record-keeping requirements, since the efficiencies of tracing are realized when a record of the most recent legal owner can be linked to a specific combination of information (serial number, name of manufacturer, etc.) which is marked on the firearm.
The marking of specific information on firearms is one of several requirements of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (UN Firearms Protocol) and the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA). These international treaties seek to counter the illegal production and movement of firearms by enabling crime guns to be traced in order to combat terrorism, organized crime and other criminal activities. Canada signed the UN Firearms Protocol in 2002 and the CIFTA in 1997, but has not ratified either of the treaties.
In order to comply with these agreements, Canada requires, among other things, a scheme for the marking of firearms. In addition to being treaty imperatives, firearms markings have value for domestic law enforcement, as they can be used to combat the criminal use of firearms and to return a stolen firearm to its rightful owner.
The Firearms Marking Regulations, drafted to respond to the international treaties, were made by the Governor in Council in 2004, but not brought into force. They stipulate the markings that need to be permanently stamped or engraved on the frame or receiver of all firearms imported into, or manufactured in, Canada. Domestically manufactured firearms must bear the name of the manufacturer, serial number and “Canada” or “CA;” imported firearms must be marked with “Canada” or “CA” and the last two digits of the year of import, e.g. “15” for 2015. The markings must be of specific dimensions to prevent obliteration of the data and to allow for tracing.
In response to requests by firearms businesses for additional preparatory time, the coming into force of the Regulations was amended to April 1, 2006, deferred to December 1, 2007, and deferred again to December 1, 2009. During the 2007–2009 deferral period, an independent study was undertaken by Government Consulting Services to look at the utility of markings from a law enforcement perspective, the various marking technologies available, and the implications for the Canadian firearms industry and users. The study found that markings help to expedite law enforcement tracing efforts by focusing investigations to the last legal owner of the firearm or the most recent country of import, rather than to the manufacturer. The study further determined that the cost to stamp or engrave markings would be low for Canadian manufacturers and large importers (i.e. ranging from zero cost to $25 per firearm depending on when and what markings are applied), although it was not possible to determine the financial impact on individuals and small importers.
Some firearms advocates are of the view that the obligation to mark “Canada” (or “CA”) and the last two digits of the year of importation would require Canadian importers to acquire marking technology or make arrangements for another company to apply markings, with an estimated cost of $200 per firearm. However, the independent study commissioned by the Government determined a $21 increase under the same circumstances. Most law enforcement representatives support import marking to expedite domestic and international tracing of crime guns.
The Regulations were deferred again until December 1, 2010, to consider a proposal to place the information required by international treaties on adhesive metallic strips. The Regulations were subsequently deferred to December 1, 2012, to permit examination of program design and implementation issues associated with the current (e.g. permanent stamping or engraving) and alternative (e.g. adhesive metallic strip) marking options in order to determine a marking scheme that would contribute to public safety, meet international obligations, minimize costs to the Canadian firearms industry and firearms owners, and facilitate law enforcement tracing efforts. During this deferral period, tests conducted with adhesive metallic strips confirmed that this proposal was not viable for marking firearms.
On October 13, 2012, the Government published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, proposed amendments to the existing Regulations. Pursuant to the proposed amended Regulations, a firearm manufactured in, or imported into, Canada would be permanently stamped or engraved, on the frame or receiver, with a serial number, name of manufacturer and any other markings as required to distinguish it from other firearms. There would be no requirement to mark “Canada” (or “CA”) and, in the case of imported firearms, the year of import. The proposed amendments were not advanced.
On November 30, 2012, the existing Regulations were deferred for one year, until December 1, 2013, to provide sufficient time for comprehensive consultations to allow for further consideration of possible amendments to the Firearms Marking Regulations.
On November 21, 2013, the coming into force of the Regulations was deferred until December 1, 2015. The Government sought the deferral for continued and broader stakeholder consultations, with a view to determining the precise nature of possible amendments to the Firearms Marking Regulations, including their repeal.

Issues

Deferral of the coming into force of the Firearms Marking Regulations to June 1, 2017. Additional consultation time is required to allow for the determination of a regime for marking firearms that will be beneficial for law enforcement crime gun investigations, without being too onerous for firearms businesses.

Objectives

The deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations permits the Government to continue in depth consultations with a broad range of stakeholders. During the deferral period, a marking scheme could be determined that will enable law enforcement to trace crime guns and permit Canada to assist international investigations, without imposing unnecessary administrative burdens on firearms businesses.

Description

The deferral amends the coming into force date of the Firearms Marking Regulations from December 1, 2015, to June 1, 2017, amounting to an extension of 18 months.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The Firearms Marking Regulations were made by Governor in Council in 2004, although they have not been brought into force. Potential regulatory options would be determined after the con-clusion of consultations and further consideration by the Government.
The proposal to mark firearms with adhesive metallic strips is not considered to be a regulatory option. In 2011, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducted tests examining this proposal. Working with the adhesives and sealant industry, adhesive technologies known to be among the strongest binding agents available were identified for testing. The RCMP subjected these adhesives to various conditions (e.g. extreme temperature variations) and elements (e.g. cleaning solvents) to which firearms are commonly exposed. It was concluded that the marking of firearms with adhesive metallic strips is not practically viable given the challenges of ensuring adequate adhesion under a range of conditions.

Benefits and costs

There are no costs associated with the deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations. By seeking the extension, the Government could continue to consult to determine a marking regime which will be beneficial for domestic and international law enforcement and manageable for firearms businesses.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, since there is no change in the administrative costs to business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, since there are no costs to small businesses.

Consultation

In 2013, the coming into force of existing Regulations was deferred until December 1, 2015, to allow for continued and broader stakeholder consultations.
The Minister of Public Safety has consulted with the Minister’s Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, on potential amendments to the existing Regulations. There are 10 individuals on this Committee who have backgrounds as civilian firearms users and firearms advocates, with some having experience in non-governmental organizations and law enforcement. The Committee expressed support for having fewer marking requirements in the existing Regulations.
Law enforcement representatives, such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, have supported the coming into force of the existing Regulations, from the perspective of public safety and national security. Given the value of markings for firearms tracing, they have consistently stressed the importance of having sufficient markings on firearms to render them individually identifiable from each other, for instance, using a serial number with the name of the manufacturer and other specific markings, and for the Regulations to have rigour (e.g. penalties and definitions). They consider these aspects important to ensure law enforcement tracing capability, in order to expedite investigations into specific gun crimes and to help detect firearms trafficking, smuggling and stockpiling. Law enforcement representatives further note the value of import marks, which increase the effectiveness of tracing technology by instantly identifying the most recent country of import to submit a trace request, and by directing investigators on whether to focus on a smuggling operation or domestic trafficking.
In addition to the consultations held to date with the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, the Government could seek the views of other stakeholders, including law enforcement, industry, victims’ representatives and the international tracing centres of Interpol and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Regulatory cooperation

The multilateral agreements to which Canada is a signatory, namely the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (UN Firearms Protocol) and the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) require, among other things, member states to adopt specific firearms markings, record retention and information sharing systems to counter the illegal production and illicit movement of firearms. The requirements facilitate police crime gun tracing in order to combat terrorism, organized crime and other criminal activities.
The existing Regulations were drafted to respond to the firearm marking requirements of the UN Firearms Protocol and the CIFTA. With the deferral of the Regulations, Canada would not be in a position to ratify these treaties, since the treaties require firearms markings. Apart from the marking of firearms, the treaties require the maintenance of records to allow for international law enforcement collaboration on tracing. Canada does not meet this imperative given the termination of registration and business record-keeping requirements with regard to non-restricted firearms.

Rationale

With the deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations, the Government could consult extensively with a range of stakeholders about possible regulatory changes, in order to implement a marking regime that will be beneficial to domestic and international law enforcement, and not onerous for firearms businesses.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The Regulations will come into force on June 1, 2017.
The amendment defers the coming-into-force date of a measure that has not yet been implemented. Consequently, no other implementation, enforcement or service standard issues have been identified.
Communication efforts of the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program will focus on informing firearms businesses and law enforcement stakeholders of the deferral via the Web. Otherwise, communications will be handled reactively.

Contact

Lyndon Murdock
Director
269 Laurier Avenue West
Law Enforcement and Policing Branch
Public Safety Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0P8
General inquiries:
613-944-4875
Fax: 613-954-4808
Email: firearms@ps-sp.gc.ca
CZ58 no longer prohibited.
 
Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney has made good on his promise to de-prohibit the CZ-858 and Swiss Arms series of rifles. 

After many years of being sold in Canada as non-restricted firearms the RCMP suddenly changed the FRT category of the firearms without warning, leaving thousands of Canadians with prohibited firearms in their possession. Minister Blaney was quick to respond,announcing an amnesty on possession to prevent unsuspecting Canadians from falling into criminality. He also vowed to reverse the decision and restore these common firearms to their rightful status.

There were no provisions in the Firearms Act to override the God powers claimed by the RCMP. To right this unacceptable lack of accountability, Bill C-42 was written with provisions to permit the Cabinet the power to reverse this bad decision. For many years the Cabinet has had the power to restrict and prohibit, but not the opposite. C-42 simply completes the rightful authority of the Parliament of Canada.

The CSSA was pleased. Executive Director Tony Bernardo said,"Canadians elect the House of Commons to create the law of the land, not the RCMP. The thought of police agencies creating laws should give every thinking Canadian cold shivers."

He added, "Once again, Minister Steven Blaney has proven to be a man of his word.  Prime Minister Harper should be justifiably proud of the hard work and integrity this Minister has displayed. The members of the CSSA and all responsible and trustworthy firearms owners of Canada thank the Minister for fulfilling his promise."
 
Dr Gary Mauser

Gun control will again be an important wedge issue in the 2015 federal election as it has been for at least two decades. The Conservatives have repeatedly tossed this cat amongst the pigeons, first with Bill C-42, “The Common Sense Firearms Regulation Act,”1 and then more recently with the Prime Minister’s provocative comments about the defensive uses of firearms. Harper’s comments in Saskatchewan on the usefulness of firearms for security stimulated both NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Wayne Easter, the Liberal public safety critic, to warn about the dangers of firearms in hands of civilians and the risk of “vigilantism.”2

Bill C-42 would amend the existing Firearms Act by streamlining regulations that are arguably overly complex. Specifically, Bill C-42 relaxes a few of the conditions attached to firearm licences, such as merging Possession Only Licences (POL) with Possession and Acquisition Licences (PAL), introducing a grace period for licence renewal, putting common and coherent controls on both Provincial Firearms Officers and the RCMP, and attaching Transportation Authorizations to PALs. The government argues that the bill does not reduce safeguards for public safety, while critics contend that these changes are likely to increase criminal violence, particularly the use of guns in domestic disputes.

Based on analysis of Canadian statistics, such fears appear misplaced. In 2013, the first year following the demise of the long-gun registry (and the most recent year statistics are available), the homicide rate dropped 8% from the year before, falling from 1.56 to 1.44 victims per 100,000. There were 41 fewer firearms murders in 2013 than in 2012 and the rate of firearm homicides was the lowest in 40 years. The number of intimate partners who were murdered also fell from 82 in 2012 to 68 in 2013.3 So far at least, scrapping the registry has not increased homicide rates or gun violence, which suggests that Bill C-42 would not have a noticeable effect either.4

Arguments over gun control tend to be passionate. Advocates of restrictive gun laws contend that simply having a firearm available can precipitate violence, transforming an angry encounter into murder, or a fit of depression into an impulsive suicide.5 This assumes that, no matter how responsible a person may be, the mere presence of a firearm poses an overwhelming danger.6 At the extreme, it is even claimed that, “triggers pull fingers.”7 Not unlike stern schoolteachers who keep scissors out of the hands of little children, some progressives argue that government must strictly regulate access to firearms. These rules are said to be for public safety, and not just a partisan appeal to their base. During the debate over Bill C-42, MP Randall Garrison, NDP Public Safety critic, reflected this attitude, when he purported to see no distinction between law-abiding Canadians who own firearms and career criminals, saying “everybody is law-abiding until they are not.”8 If this susceptibility is intrinsic to the human condition, then trusting government or police appears naïve, as government employees are no less fallible than other citizens.9 This view appears to not show much respect for citizens, treating otherwise responsible adults as children; namely, gun control advocates are convinced they know what is best for the public.

On the other side of the cultural divide, supporters of civilian gun ownership argue, a little less simplistically, that while criminals should not have firearms, guns are a positive social force in the hands of law-abiding, religious, community spirited, and patriotic citizens.10 In this telling, citizens in a democracy are adults capable of making their own decisions, and, in any case, responsible gun ownership is a long and respected Canadian tradition. Like any tool, firearms can be misused, but they also can be used for socially valuable purposes, such as hunting and protection. Hunting has long been part of the Canadian heritage. Hunters not only provide food for their families but they are the driving force behind habitat conservation. For many Canadians, such as farmers and rural residents, firearms are indispensible for protecting farm animals from predators, such as bears or wolves, as well as for keeping peace when the police may be hours away. Armed rural homeowners act as a deterrent to criminal activity, much as armed police do in cities. Target shooting should also not be overlooked. Like any martial art, or Olympic sport, target shooting is as valuable for building character as it is for teaching any particular skill. Moreover, in times of national threat, an armed citizenry can play an important role in defending the country from invaders—and historically they have done so.11 Even before Confederation, rural Canadians have responded patriotically to their country’s call for help during wartime or invasion. More recently, citizen soldiers have served with distinction in the wars during the twentieth century as well as in Afghanistan. The skills civilians gain with firearm use have proved enormously valuable.

Arguments over gun control typically entail disputing facts as much as battling over implications of alternative policy preferences. Facts are important. In order to make rational policy decisions, it is important to thoroughly master the basics. This paper will examine the statistics on criminal misuse of firearms, as well as civilian gun owners, searching for connections between criminal violence and civilian firearms. After reviewing the basic statistics, there will be a brief address of a few myths about firearms, such as the role gun controls play in diminishing the frequency of multiple-victim murders and spousal homicides.12

This paper will argue that civilian firearms owners differ considerably from violent criminals. Statistics show that civilian firearm owners are exemplary middle class Canadians, and that firearms ownership is conducive to good citizenship. Statistics Canada is a valuable resource, but, unsurprisingly, they collect many more statistics than can be published; consequently, researchers must necessarily be selective in what is made available to the public. While understandable, such selectivity can obscure reality. For example, Statistics Canada rarely publishes the number of legally held firearms that are involved in violent crime. These are revealing statistics. In order to probe behind the veil, a number of Special Requests to Statistics Canada are shown that help to clarify important questions. This paper presents the findings.

Canadian gun laws

Before attempting to evaluate the proposed changes to the firearms legislation, it is important to understand the current firearms laws. How easy is it to buy a gun legally in Canada? What are the rules for lawful gun ownership? Once we grasp the basics we can ask whether relaxing the gun laws would precipitate violence or whether additional controls are needed.

The current firearms legislation is the 1995 Firearms Act (Bill C-68), as amended in 2012. The 1995 Act brought in owner licensing and universal firearm registration, but in 2012, the long-gun registry was scrapped, making no changes to licensing provisions.13 The criminal legislation and regulatory framework governing simple possession of a firearm continue.14 Personal information about licence holders is automatically made available to police officers via the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Police officers are trained to check CPIC before approaching an address for information about the owner and his (or her) firearms. This is a serious tactical error because the Canadian Firearms Program does not and cannot provide information on unlicensed owners or illegally held firearms. When police approach a suspicious residence, police officers should routinely assume there could be a weapon present, illegal or legal, rather than relying upon a database of demonstrably honest citizens.15 Unsurprisingly, experienced police officers report that the registry is not useful to them.16

The 1995 firearms legislation is remarkable because Canada already had a strict firearm regime that had become progressively more restrictive since the 1930s, when handguns had been registered.17 Prior to 1977, long guns (rifles and shotguns) had been regulated through provincial hunting regulations, while handguns were controlled under the criminal code. As part of an effort to win support from Members of Parliament to eliminate capital punishment, Parliament in 1977 amended the firearms laws to require police scrutiny for all firearm purchasers and to introduce a new crime regarding “unsafe storage of firearms.”18 Also in the 1970s, the protection of property was eliminated as a suitable reason for acquiring a handgun, and owners were no longer allowed to register handguns at their business address. Without additional legislation, during the 1970s, police began to refuse permission to anyone who indicated she or he desired a firearm for self-protection (even though individuals have a natural right to use force, up to and including deadly force, to protect themselves or their family from violent attack).19 Three separate representative surveys I conducted found that in a typical year tens of thousands of Canadians report using firearms to protect themselves or their families from violence.20 In 1991 the firearm legislation was thoroughly overhauled, a wide range of weapons prohibited, and tighter restrictions placed on large-capacity magazines and semi-automating sporting rifles with a military appearance. The 1991 amendments brought the annual cost of managing the federal firearms control system to $15 million.21

When Bill C-68 became law in 1995 more than half of all lawfully registered handguns were classified as “prohibited” even though they had been legal for more than half a century. As well C-68 increased the penalties for a number of firearm crimes. Due to technical difficulties and bureaucratic blunders, it took until 1998 to begin implementing owner licensing and until 2001 to start registering long-guns; the cost of implementation jumped to over $2 billion from the estimated cost of under $2 million.22 After repeated deferrals, Canadians had to register their rifles and shotguns by 2003. Beginning in 2001, firearm owners who did not have a licence, or who allowed their licence to expire, were subject to immediate arrest and their firearms confiscated.23 Possession of an unregistered firearm was similarly punishable.

To obtain a firearms license Canadian residents must take and pass a 20-hour course in firearms handling (costing between CAD$100-200), pass a criminal records check, have the support of their current spouse (plus a former spouse if separated within the past two years), get the personal recommendations of two other people, fill out a four-page application, and submit a passport-type photograph. The five-year licence costs either $60 for long-gun owners or $80 for restricted weapons (mostly handguns). Prospective owners of restricted firearms also must take a second firearms safety course.24

In addition to requiring owners to be licensed and their firearms registered, the Firearms Act of 1995 increased police powers of search and seizure and expanded the types of officials who could make use of such powers. Police now had wide latitude to interpret “safe storage” regulations, and coupled with the vagueness of “potential danger to self or others,” the legislation weakened constitutionally protected rights against self-incrimination, and it imposed ever-restrictive requirements for owning a firearm.25

Each time owners of restricted firearms wish to take a firearm to a gunsmith, gun show, or target range they must request an Authorization to Transport. Virtually all of these requests are granted. In contrast, transportation and carry permits for protection are limited to a handful of people, such as retired police, judges, and prospectors.

The present firearms control regime has cost taxpayers over $2 billion since its inception in 1995;26 cost overruns were so outrageous that in 2006 Parliament limited funding to a maximum of $80 million per year.27 Program costs came largely from unexpected consequences of registration. Registering firearms proved to be vastly more complex than civil servants in the Justice Department had believed. The ineptitude of this part of the Canadian bureaucracy became an international embarrassment with the publication of a case study that carefully dissected the administrative errors and made them available on the net for students of information management.28 As professor Gary Kleck has argued, firearm registration is rarely useful in solving crimes or catching criminals.29 It merely results in the creation of a considerable bureaucracy and a concomitant black hole of spending that achieves nothing more than busywork, keeping track of the guns owned by responsible citizens.

Civilian firearms owners

Demographically, civilian gun owners are solid middle-class Canadians. They could be characterized as “Tim Hortons” Canadians in contrast to “Starbucks” yuppies. Surveys find that firearms owners are older, somewhat less well educated than the average, but with a higher annual income (see Table 1). Rifle owners tend to be  hunters who are well-paid skilled tradesmen, such as electricians, machinists, or loggers. Shotgun and handgun owners are generally white-collar professionals, such as medical doctors, bank officials, or administrators who own firearms for target shooting. This profile is that of the “middle class.” While gun owners are predominantly male, women are increasingly taking up hunting and the shooting sports. In BC, for example, one-quarter of recent graduates from hunter-training courses are women.30

Table1

Civilian gun owners are the heart of traditional Canada. The primary reason (73%) Canadians give for owning a firearm is for hunting. The second most popular reason is target shooting (13%).31 See Table 2. The Canadian Nature Survey found that 8% of Canadians reported that they had gone hunting during the past 12 months. Around 23% of the adult population in Canada has hunted at some time in their lives. At the same time, surveys find that more hunters (55%) live in urban Canada today than in rural Canada (45%).32

Table2

Firearms ownership and hunting are an intrinsic part of small-town life in both Canada and the United States.33 Growing up in a small town, young children are typically taught how to use firearms responsibly by their parents before taking formal firearms safety classes when older. Learning about firearms from one’s parents tends to protect children against delinquency.34 The small-town hunting culture is more traditional than urban Canada; for example, residents tend to be more religious and patriotic.35 In this culture, firearms are viewed as tools, much like chain saws or knives, in that they must be treated with respect, and to be used primarily for gathering food for the family. Small towns have lower homicide rates (as well as lower rates of firearm homicide) than large Canadian urban centres or Native Reserves.36

Table3

For many reasons it is difficult to know with any precision how many civilians own firearms. According to the Canada Firearm Program (CFP), there were 1.96 million licensed firearm owners in 2014. The number of unlicensed gun owners is unknown. Given the bureaucratic awkwardness involved in getting a firearm licence, many otherwise law-abiding people may not have bothered to do so.37 Telephone surveys produce higher estimates of civilian firearms owners than the CFP, about 3 million, but because of privacy concerns, telephone surveys are necessarily underestimates.38 The best estimate is that there are between 3 and 3.5 million Canadian residents who personally own firearms, whether or not they have obtained a firearms licence.39

Organized hunters are the unheralded heroes of conservation and not just for quarry species but for entire habitats. It is not widely known, but hunters founded the North American model of wildlife conservation early in the 20th century.40 The result is that North America has the most successful conservation policies of any continent and this success can be traced to the popularization of hunting and widespread civilian firearm ownership. Hunters are motivated to provide the bulk of the funding for wildlife conservation, not just because they love the outdoors and want to preserve the wilderness, but also because they view themselves as part owners of wildlife. Hunting in Asia, Europe, and Africa is limited to the elite, which in turn limits the commitment of most people to protecting wildlife or wildlife habitat. This has resulted in destructive practices that threaten wildlife on those continents.41

Firearms ownership entails responsibility. The shooting sports have vigorously campaigned for firearms safety at least since the late 1800s. In North America, hunting organizations lobbied state and provincial government to introduce mandatory hunter training.42 As a result, hunting accidents, including shootings, have dropped precipitously since hunter training became mandatory in the 1960s.43

For more than one hundred years, hunters have been the driving force behind wildlife conservation. In most provinces, fees from hunting licences are equal to or greater than provincial budgets for wildlife management. Expenditures on hunting help drive the economy.44 In addition, hunters continue to be among the most generous contributors of their time and money to environmental conservation. Ducks Unlimited Canada spent $68.5 million in 2013 on conservation projects. Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners have conserved or enhanced more than 6.4 million acres of North American wilderness.45 Members of provincial hunting organizations, such as B.C. Wildlife Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, have contributed CAD$335 million over a fifteen-year period (1985-2000) to habitat conservation projects in Canada. This amount is in addition to the approximately CAD$600 million in licence fees collected from hunters over this same period that are used to support provincial and federal programs. This sum does not include another CAD$600 million spent by hunters on equipment, travel, lodging and other expenses directly related to hunting activities over this 15 year period.46

Contemporary Canadians have inherited a long history of responsible civilian firearms ownership. Early French and English settlers needed firearms not only to provide for themselves and their families, but also for protection against animal or criminal attacks.47 Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries subsistence hunting was essential for many settlers in both British North America and New France. Beginning in the 19th century, hunting became less important for providing food for Canadians but was still widely practised. It is very difficult to know just how extensive firearms ownership was in British North America before Confederation. Much more research needs to be conducted on diaries and wills before an accurate count can emerge. Unlike in the United States, there is not the political drive for such research. What work has been done suggests that firearm ownership was quite popular in British North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, if not as universal as in the United States.48

Even before Confederation, both French and British colonies encouraged widespread rifle ownership for defensive purposes in conflicts with Aboriginals. In view of the vulnerability of settlements in British North America, colonial militia laws often required men to own and use firearms.49 By the middle of the 18th century, both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick felt it necessary to require male settlers to be actively involved in the militia and to have them provide their own firearms. The militia laws in both Upper and Lower Canada were similar but did not require firearms ownership.50 Firearms perhaps were not as ubiquitous in British North America as they were in the United States, but firearms still played an important role in protecting communities from attack and in keeping the peace.51

After Confederation, the new government continued to encourage civilians to own rifles, primarily for national defence, but also for personal use.52 The Militia Act of 1868 encouraged volunteer service by providing rifles, and the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association was formed at the same time to stimulate improvements in marksmanship with regular tournaments. The importance of the civilian militia increased as Britain accelerated the withdrawal of its regular troops from Canada in the latter part of the 19th century. Governments continued to encourage civilian firearms ownership throughout the 19th century, and continuing into the 20th century, citizen firearms owners were valued for their contributions to the military needs of the British Empire.53

Despite the vast improvement in public safety since Confederation, Canadians still have the right to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their families from violence. A low crime rate does not mean no crime. Some people have more dangerous lives than others, and all of us have some degree of vulnerability to criminal attack.54 According to the Criminal Code, Canadians have the right to use deadly force to protect themselves from serious inury or death.55 Surveys find that Canadians use firearms to protect themselves or their families between 60,000 and 80,000 times per year from dangerous people or animals. More importantly, between 19,000 and 37,500 of these incidents involve defence against human threats.56 The police are the best available bulwark against criminal violence, but they cannot be everywhere. In any case, they have no legal responsibility for protecting particular individuals.57 In comparison with the number of households with firearms, the frequency Canadians use firearms to defend themselves against human threats is somewhat less than that of Americans. Policy makers in both the United States and in Canada should be aware that private ownership of firearms has benefits as well as costs for society. Even with lower Canadian rates, the numbers of people who use firearms for self-protection remain substantial and firearms restrictions may cost more lives than they save.

As solid citizens, law-abiding gun owners are much less likely to be violent than other Canadians. Firearm owners have been screened for criminal records since 1979, and it has been illegal since 1992 for people with a violent record to own a firearm. Gun owners may be compared with other Canadians by calculating the homicide rate per 100,000. Statistics Canada reports that 194 licensed gun owners were accused of committing murder over the 16-year period (1997-2012), or an average of 12 owners per year out of an annual average of 2 million licensed firearms owners. This gives a homicide rate of 0.60 per 100,000 licensed gun owners. Over the same 16-year period, there were 9,315 homicides in total, or an average national homicide rate of 1.81 per 100,000 people in the general population (including gun owners). In other words, Canadians who do not have a firearms license are three times more likely to commit murder than those who have a license.58

Criminals and firearms

Firearms misuse is typically gang-related. In Canada, almost half (47%) of firearm homicides from 1974-2012 were gang-related.59 Gang-related homicides have plateaued recently, but they have increased drastically from the early 1990s. As shown in Chart 2, gang-related homicides have increased from under 10% of all homicides before firearms licensing to an average of 18% in the past five years (2009-2013).

Chart2

In 2013 (the most recent year statistics are available), firearms were used in 27% of homicides,60 but lawful firearm owners are rarely involved. Just 7% of the accused in firearms homicides had a valid firearms licence (or 2% of all accused murderers).61 Far from being normal, murderers are aberrant: over half (54%) of those accused of homicide have a previous criminal record, and approximately two-thirds (68%) of those have been convicted of a violent crime. In addition, 19% of accused murderers have mental disorders, and almost three-quarters (72%) were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the murder.62 Such people cannot legally own a firearm.

According to the police, “crime guns” are mostly smuggled, primarily within the drug trade, in which drugs flow south in exchange for firearms coming north. The Vancouver Police claim that 99% of crime guns are smuggled, while former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair stated that 70% of illegal firearms in Canada were trafficked.63 Smuggling is almost impossible to stop since the US-Canadian border is one of the busiest in the world, and the Canadian Border Services Agency cannot check very many of the millions of shipments that cross the border every day.64 It is important to note, however, that similar problems occur with gun smuggling in island nations like the United Kingdom and Australia as well as in high-density gun-banning cities such as New York City. As long as drug crime is profitable, criminals will actively bring in illegal firearms. Clearly, legislation controlling the actions of the law-abiding cannot affect this.

A glance at the decreasing homicide rates in Canada since 1990 might suggest that the increasingly restrictive gun laws might have been responsible, but such an implication founders when considering that homicide rates in the United States fell even faster over the same time period. How could that happen? Clearly, the US did not have the supposed benefit of Canadian firearms restrictions. Moreover, the drop in American homicide rates happened in spite of (or perhaps because of) an astonishing increase in the number of Americans who now have a permit to carry concealed handguns—jumping from two million to over 11 million.65 Apparently, fears about the consequences of allowing ordinary citizens to have access to firearms are misdirected.

Chart1

There is no credible evidence that either owner licensing or firearm registration has had any influence on homicide rates, nor on the frequency of gang killings, or spousal murders. The most methodologically solid study yet conducted found that no Canadian legislation managed to have a beneficial effect on homicide rates.66 In this study, Dr. Langmann used three statistical methods to search for associated effects of firearms legislation: specifically: interrupted time series regression, ARIMA, and Joinpoint analysis. In order to isolate the effects of the legislation, a number of control factors were introduced. The control factors that were found to be associated with homicide rates were median age, unemployment, immigration rates, percentage of the population in a low-income bracket, Gini index of income equality, population per police officer, and incarceration rate. Specifically, no significant beneficial associations between firearms legislation and homicide or spousal homicide rates were found after the passage of any of the three amendments to Canadian firearms legislation (i.e., in 1977, 1991 and 1995). Homicide rates have declined more slowly in the decade following the implementation of licensing in 2001 and the registration of long guns in 2003 than they did in the decade prior to 2001.

One explanation for the impotence of firearms legislation is that virtually all (95%) firearms used to commit murder are possessed illegally.67 After more than a decade of universal licensing and registration, a pool of firearms of unknown size still exists outside of official notice. These guns are available to anyone who seeks to obtain them—whether or not they wish to use them for criminal purposes. Estimates of the total number of private firearms in Canada vary from 8 million to 11 million.68 During the period (2001-2012) that long guns were registered, the number of guns registered never exceeded 8 million.69

Firearms and female spousal violence

Despite the failure to find credible evidence supporting the assertion that general access to firearms is linked with violent crime, opponents of civilian firearms ownership have argued that gun laws are effective for dealing with certain specific threats. One such claim is that guns play a central role in spousal violence. Another has to do with multiple-victim murders. Since guns are exceptionally lethal, the argument goes, restrictive gun laws are important for limiting the numbers of deaths from these types of murders. These are poignant claims, so Special Requests were submitted to Statistics Canada to see what light the available data could provide.

Some supporters of the long-gun registry contend that ordinary rifles and shotguns are often used in domestic homicides, and therefore they should be tightly controlled, even registered, in order to encourage responsible use as well as pinpointing anyone who has misused a firearm. This claim exaggerates the role of guns in spousal violence. Firearms are involved in a small percentage of spousal homicides. Knives and other weapons are much more prevalent. In the period 1995-2012, 1,327 (13%) of the 10,538 homicides in Canada involved the murder of a spouse. Of these victims, 1,056 (80%) were female.70 The most common weapons in spousal murders are knives, not firearms. In the period 1995-2012, knives were used in 32%, other weapons accounted for 41%, and firearms were used in 27% of the murders of female spouses. Long-guns were involved in 16% of female spousal homicides in this same time period.71

The long-gun registry had no discernible effect on spousal murder rates.72 As seen in Chart 3, female spousal murders (both with and without guns) have slowly been declining since the mid-1970s.73 There was no detectable change in the years following 2003, the year when all long guns were required to be registered. After the long-gun registry ended in 2012, the the spousal murder rate fell from 82 victims that year to 68 the following year.74 Even its supporters are disappointed in the long-gun registry, which has had ten years to demonstrate its effectiveness and, despite its high cost to taxpayers, has been unable to do so.75

Chart3

Registration and licensing are rarely of use to police to solve spousal homicides because in almost all such cases the murderer is quickly identified, so there is no need for such information, and secondly few firearms used by abusive spouses to kill their wives are possessed legally. An analysis of a Special Request to Statistics Canada found that between 1997 and 2012, only 2% of those accused of homicide had a firearm licence, and just 6% of the firearms were registered.76 This is consistent with international evidence in Australia and England.77

People who are likely to murder their spouse are aberrant and unlikely to be able to qualify for a firearms licence. Approximately two-thirds of spouses (65%) accused of homicide had a history of violence involving the victim.78 The majority of those known to have a Canadian criminal record had previously been convicted of violent offences. As well, over one-half of the victims were also known to have a Canadian criminal record; most had been convicted of violent offences.79

Multiple-victim murders

Could gun control be useful in reducing multiple-victim murders?80 Arguably, given the lethality of firearms, restricting access to firearms could be effective in reducing the numbers of multiple-victim shootings, whether or not such restrictions would effectively cause a decline in overall murder rates. Since records began to be kept in 1974, there have been seven (6.7) multiple-victim incidents on average each year through to 2010. Multiple-victim murders are rare, constituting about four percent (4.2%) of homicides. Almost half (46%) were shootings, with the proportion of shooting varying tremendously over this time period; from 0% to 100% in a given year because of the small number of incidents.81

As can be seen in Chart 4 both the frequency of multiple-victim murders, and specifically those involving firearms, have gradually declined since the 1970s, if somewhat irregularly. Multiple-victim shootings, like criminal violence in general, started dropping in the 1970s and have continued to do so. Despite this drop, it does not appear that either licensing or the long-gun registry have influenced the frequency of multiple-victim shootings or multiple-victim murders. Had the firearm laws been meaningfully effective, the decline in multiple-victim shootings would have been faster rather than slower than the drop in multiple-victim murders involving other weapons.

Chart4

Despite the decrease in frequency, multiple-victim shootings figured prominently in the news even after the long-gun registry came into force in 2003. A few examples suffice: Kimver Gill at Montreal’s Dawson College in 2006, who shot and wounded 20 people, killing one; James Roszko at Mayerthorp in 2005, who shot and killed four RCMP members; and the murder of six people in an apartment building in Surrey by the Red Scorpion drug gang in 2007.

Criminologists typically argue that demographics, not firearms laws, better explain the decline in Canadian homicides.82 An aging society means that a smaller proportion of the population is in the age group between 18 and 34, so there is less criminal violence, including murders.83

International research

There is no convincing empirical research supporting the proposition that restricting general civilian access to firearms acts to reduce homicide rates. In the United States, research sponsored by both the Centers for Disease Control and the National Research Council concluded that there is no empirical support for most common gun control measures.84 In the United Kingdom, the draconian restrictions of firearms imposed in the 1990s has not brought down the murder rate. In response to horrific gun crimes, the United Kindom tightened the laws governing civilian firearms in 1988 and again in 1997.85 Police statistics show the impact of this legislation on the homicide rate in England and Wales.86 As may be seen in Chart 5, the homicide rate jumped 50%, from 1.1 per 100,000 in 1990 to 1.6 per 100,000 by 2000. The homicide rate has since retreated from this higher rate, but is not yet back to pre-ban levels.87

Chart5

Australia, like Canada, brought in stricter controls on firearms during the 1990s when homicide rates had already began declining. In neither case are simple before-and-after comparisons adequate to justify allegations of their effectiveness. A series of studies of Australian homicide rates using a variety of methods failed to identify a link between the 1996 firearms legislation and the continuing decline in Australian homicide rates.88

Europe is often used as an example of how gun control has resulted in low homicide rates. But a closer examination does not support this claim. Not only did most European countries have low homicide rates before modern gun controls were introduced, but also homicide rates there are not higher in those countries with larger numbers of firearms in civilian hands.89 Table 4 compares homicide rates with civilian gun ownership for all the countries in Europe where both statistics are available.90 Historically, as well as currently, European citizens also have a need to protect themselves from criminal violence.91

Table4

Table4 sources

If limited gun controls are ineffective, why not simply prohibit all (or virtually all) firearms? Both Jamaica and the Republic of Ireland attempted sweeping firearms bans in the 1970s. In 1972 the Irish Republic imposed the Custody Order, banning (and confiscating) virtually all firearms, including almost all rifles and shotguns previously owned legally.92 Chart 7 shows that murders continued to increase despite the gun prohibitions.93

Chart7

 In 1974, the Jamaican government introduced the Gun Court Act that eliminated open hearings and trial by jury for firearms-related crimes.94 The standard mandatory sentence for almost any firearm offence, even the illegal possession of a single cartridge, was life imprisonment. As shown in Chart 6, this approach did not deter murder rates.95 In 1973, 227 people were murdered, but, despite draconian efforts, murders increased. In 2001, 1,139 people were murdered.

Chart6

Conclusions

In real life, triggers have not been found to pull fingers. There is no convincing evidence that the general availability of firearms stimulates or encourages criminal violence. Every home has many objects, such as hammers, poisons, or kitchen knives that are available for use in assault or murder if residents are so inclined. Spousal murderers are opportunistic in that they use whatever implements are available to them to kill. Creating an expensive bureaucracy to track one or more of these items does next to nothing to protect vulnerable women or anyone else. The evidence supports proponents of civilian gun ownership in saying that while criminals should not have firearms, guns are a positive social force in the hands of solid citizens.

Given that no solid evidence has been produced linking any of the Canadian gun laws, including the long-gun registry, to the slide in homicide rates, it is not hard to predict that passing Bill C-42 would have no measureable effect on future homicide rates, spousal murders or multiple-victim killings.

Canadian firearms misuse is typically gang-related, and legal firearm owners are rarely involved. Simple possession of a firearm remains enmeshed in a myriad of regulations backed by criminal sanctions. The available statistics are consistent with the contention that civilian firearm ownership is not associated with criminal violence. Even before firearm owners were required to have a licence, ordinary firearm owners were upstanding citizens, but licensing greatly facilitates this demonstration. Normal people are not stimulated to commit murder simply because a firearm is present any more than kitchen knives motivate cooks to kill their family. These findings are consistent with international evidence, as no methodologically sound study—in Canada or elsewhere—has found support for claims that restricting general civilian access to firearms has reduced gun violence.

Available statistics show that law-abiding gun owners are much less likely to be murderous than other Canadians. The long-gun registry did not have a measurable effect on the spousal homicide rate, partly due to the very small numbers of registered firearms involved in homicide. Trusting the registry can get police officers killed because the registry cannot alert police to the existence of unregistered guns; only about half of Canada’s gunstock has been registered.

This paper has demonstrated the stark differences between civilian firearms owners and those who commit violent crimes with firearms. It is irrational to conflate civilian firearm owners with violent criminals. Civilian firearm owners are not embryonic killers—they are exemplary middle class Canadians. Firearms ownership is compatible with and conducive to good citizenship, and, accordingly, Canadian firearms owners are found to contribute substantially to their communities as responsible, law-abiding citizens. Historically, armed civilians have played crucial leadership roles in their communities, including protecting their country from invasion.

The Canadian findings are consistent with international research. Homicide rates have not been found to be higher in countries with more firearms in civilian hands. Nor is there convincing empirical support for most of the gun control measures in Australia, Jamaica, Republic of Ireland, Europe, the United Kingdom or in the United States. In sum, the proposition that restricting general civilian access to firearms acts to reduce homicide rates cannot be empirically justified.

References

  1. Bill C-42. http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&billId=6714626
  2. "Harper says guns are needed for safety", http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/03/16/guns-are-needed-for-safety-in-rural-areas-stephen-harper-says/ and "Mulcair shoots down Harper's comments", http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2015/03/17/ndp-leader-shoots-down-harpers-comments-about-people-who-arm-themselves/#.VTJU66bp9k8.
  3. Adam Cotter, 2014. Homicide in Canada, 2013. Juristat. Statistics Canada.
  4. Criminologists consider homicide rate as a valuable index for criminal violence because the police in virtually all jurisdictions treat homide with consistent and high-level attention. In addition, Statistics Canada collects more statistics about firearms involvement in homicides than they do with other violent crimes.
  5. This paper focuses exclusively on criminal violence. For a discussion of the role of firearms and suicide in Canada, see Gary Mauser, Hubris in the North: The Canadian Firearms Registry, 2007, Fraser Institute, pp. 49-50, and in the United States, see Gary Kleck, Point Blank, Aldine, 1991, Chapter 6.
  6. This assumption is widespread among public health activists. For example, Wendy Cukier and Victor W. Sidel. 2006. The Global Gun Epidemic: From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s. Praeger.
  7. A thorough review of the American research on gun control is found in Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, Aldine, 1997 In Chapter 7 he discusses in depth the research linking firearms with violent crime, including (on p 222) the famous hypothesis that “triggers pull fingers.”
  8. Hansard. House of Commons Debates. Official Report. Vol. 147, No. 149, 2nd Session, 41st Parliament, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, p. 9839. His comment echoes the radical feminists who view all men as potential rapists. Barbara Kay in her December 22, 2014 column in the National Post, “More rape statistics by the biased for the biased,” cites Alison Jaggar who argued in her 1983 book, Feminist Politics and Human Nature, a standard text in North American universities: “From prehistoric times to the present, rape … is nothing more nor less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” Note, not some, but all men.
  9. Police misconduct, up to and including shooting suspects, is a continuing problem. Perhaps the most egregious example is the RCMP killing a distraught Polish tourist at the Vancouver airport. "RCMP taser death at YVR", http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/rcmp-taser-death/.
  10. For elaborations of these benefits, see Gary Kleck, 1997, Op. cit., p. 74; John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, 3rd Ed, 2010, U Chicago Press.
  11. A variety of countries currently rely upon armed civilians, who have received military training at some point in their lives, to serve as a national militia for defence against invasion, including Finland, Israel, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States. The threat of a protracted battle with the famously well-armed Swiss militia was one of the factors that persuaded Hitler’s Nazi government not to invade Switzerland; see Stephen Halbrook, Target Switzerland, Swiss Armed Neutrality In World War II, HarperCollins, 1998.
  12. Many of these myths are promulgated by public health activists. For a thorough debunking of popular fallacies in gun control, see Gary Kleck, 1997, Op.cit. Chapter 1.
  13. This was confirmed in the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision. "Quebec has no legal right to long-gun data", http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/quebec-has-no-legal-right-to-federal-governments-long-gun-registry-data-supreme-court-rules.
  14. For additional details see the Canadian Firearms Program website, http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index-eng.htm.
  15. A police instructor at the Ontario Police Institute told me that many young officers trust CPIC to alert them about the presence of a firearm. He was concerned that this attitude dangerously confuses firearm licences with firearms.
  16. Testimony to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, House of Commons, Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by Det Sgt Murray Grismer, and testimony to The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, by Rick Hanson, Chief, Calgary Police Service.
  17. See the RCMP’s abbreviated History of firearms law, http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/pol-leg/hist/con-eng.htm.
  18. Friedland, M.L. (1984) A Century of Criminal Justice. Carswell, Toronto, Ontario, p. 137.
  19. The use of violent force to protect oneself or family is recognized in Canadian law. A reasonable perception. Diverse political philosophers, including John Locke, in Two Treatises of Government, and Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, have argued that the use of force to protect oneself or one’s family against violent attack is an inherent natural right. This right may also be found in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible, in Exodus 22: 2-3, Nehemiah 4: 13, Esther 8: 11-12, as well as in Luke 22: 35-38. Scholars, such as Maimonides and Augustine, argue that the right to use deadly force in defending oneself or one’s family is based on scripture. See David B. Kopel, The Torah and Self-Defense, 109 Penn State Law Review 17 (2004) and Rodger Charles, An Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching 49 (1999).
  20. This is undoubtedly an underestimate. See G. Mauser, “Armed Self Defense: the Canadian Case,” Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 24, No. 5, 1996, 393-406, and Gary Kleck, “Defensive Gun Use Is Not a Myth, Why my critics still have it wrong,” Politico, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/defensive-gun-ownership-gary-kleck-response-115082.html#.VQiYninDtk8.
  21. Garry Breitkreuz, MP. Gun control issues, http://www.garrybreitkreuz.com/issues/gun_control_n.html.
  22. Serious problems with the overly-complex and expensive system were uncovered by the Auditor General in 2002; her investigations also resulted in criminal charges being laid for corruption. Auditor General of Canada. 2006. May Status Report of the Auditor General. Ottawa: Chapter 4 Canadian Firearms Program. Queen’s Printer, http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_200605_04_e_14961.html. Auditor General of Canada. 2002a. December Report of the Auditor General. “Chapter 11. Other Audit Observations. Royal Canadian Mounted Police—Canadian Firearms Program.” Auditor General of Canada. 2002b. April Report of the Auditor General of Canada. “Chapter 4—The Criminal Justice System: Significant Challenges.” OAG 2002 Chapter 4, http://www.oagbvg.gc.ca/internet/Englishparl_oag_200212_11_e_12405.html#ch11hd3c.
  23. Violation of criminal code Section 91(1) carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment.
  24. See the Canadian Firearms Program website, op cit.
  25. Gary Mauser, Misfire, Firearm Registration in Canada, Fraser Institute Occasional Paper, 2001. SSRN, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=998898. More recently, see Solomon Friedman’s commentary in the National Post, 17 October 2011, Firearms laws deny law-abiding citizens their rights, National Post, http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/10/17/solomon-friedman-firearms-laws-deny-law-abiding-citizens-their-rights/.
  26. Lott, John Jr. and Gary Mauser. 27 March 2012. “Ask Canada -- gun registration won't make D.C. safer,” National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/291304/death-long-gun-registry-john-r-lott-jr?pg=1.
  27. The federal cost of administering the firearms control program was $15.5 million in 1993/94. See Commons Debates, Garry Breitkreuz, MP (http://www.garrybreitkreuz.com/publications/2006_new/87.htm) and Canada accounts (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/webarchives/20060120074659/http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rma/dpr/03-04/cfc-caf/cfc-cafd3401_e.aspFor). I am endebted to Dennis Young, former Administrative Aide to Garry Breitkreuz, MP, for this information. Mr. Breitkreuz was an indefatigable critic of Bill C-68 for the Opposition.
  28. Duvall, M. (July 2004). Canada Firearms: Armed Robbery. Baseline, 1, 32: 55-57. http://www.baselinemag.com/article2/0,1540,1620199,00.asp.
  29. See Gary Kleck, 1997, Op. cit., 336.
  30. CORE Graduate Report (2010-2014), Kerry Smith, BCWF Programs Coordinator.
  31. GPC Research (2001). Fall 2000 Estimate of Firearm Ownership. Submitted to the Public Policy Forum, Ottawa, Ontario (January 2). Since personal protection is actively discouraged by the authorities, it is likely that an unknown number of people also own firearms for protection in addition to their stated reasons of hunting or target shooting.
  32. Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2014. 2012 Canadian Nature Survey: Awareness, participation, and expenditures in nature-based recreation, conservation, and subsistence activities. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers, p 58.
  33. Gary Kleck, 1997, Op. cit., Chapter 3; Philip C. Stenning and Sharon Moyer, Firearms Ownership and Use in Canada, A Report of Survey Findings, 1976. Working Paper, U Toronto, 1981, Chapter 2.
  34. A methodologically sophisticated study of adolescents in Rochester, New York found that children of legal gun owners had a lower level of delinquency than adolescents whose parents did not own firearms. “Boys who own legal firearms, however, have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns. The socialization into gun ownership is also vastly different for legal and illegal gun owners. Those who own legal guns have fathers who own guns for sport and hunting.” Huizinga, David, Loeber, Rolf, and Terence P. Thornberry. Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse, Initial Findings, Research Summary, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. NCJRS. See Figure 13, and discussion on page 18.
  35. Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/ca2011/ha#a1-1-5) finds that 82.6% of the farm population in Canada reported a religious affiliation in 2011. This was higher than the total population, in which 76.1% reported a religion affiliation. Reginald Bibby reports that Canadians living in small towns attend church services more offen than do urban residents. The Bibby Report, (1995), Social Trends Canadian Style. Stoddart. p. 127. Canadian armed forces have traditionally relied upon residents in rural or small towns. Journal Forces, http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo8/no3/jung-eng.asp.
  36. U-shaped distributions can yield radically different results depending upon how the categories are defined. Compare the multi-category table presented in this paper with recent reports by Statistics Canada that use fewer categories. See Northern vs. Southern regions of Canada, Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/150505/dq150505b-eng.htm). Another Statistics Canada’s study reported homicide rates higher in “rural” areas than in large cities, “A comparison of large urban, small urban and rural crime rates, 2005,” Urban vs. Rural Crime, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x2007003-eng.htm.
  37. A complicating factor is that the definition of “owner” has a penumbra. Firearms are household property, much as the kitchen stove or television set, and are so treated in divorce cases. Spouses own household property jointly, and as with other household property, they are legally considered to be co-owners of household firearms. However, the law requires that each firearm have a single owner, although other people are allowed to use that firearm “under direct supervision.” Firearms are seen as tools in some households, tools that may be used by any family member to put food on the table or to protect farm animals or crops. Thus, since the cost of a firearm licence is non-trivial, households may elect to licence only one member of the household, even though more than one person may use the firearm on a regular basis.
  38. There are a variety of reasons that law-abiding people might not want to tell a stranger on the telephone that they have firearms, including ignorance and uncertainty. Not only might a respondent forget that a long-unused firearm lies ignored in a closet, but given the complexity of firearm laws, he or she might not be confident about understanding them. Anyone unsure about the legal status of their firearm would be understandably reluctant to admit its presence for fear of alerting authorities (or criminals). It is also important to remember that we live in a multi-cultural society with large numbers of recent immigrants, some of whom have emigrated from countries intolerant of civilians owning firearms. Surveys of minority groups, such as Indo-Canadians living in British Columbia or Black Americans living in Louisiana, have much higher refusal rates, as well as finding exceptionally few minority respondents (if any) who admit to owning a firearm. See Bankston, William B., Carol Y. Thompson, Quentin A.L. Jenkins, and Craig J. Forsyth, “The Influence of Fear of Crime, Gender, and Southern Culture on Carrying Firearms for Protection,” Sociological Quarterly, 31[2]: 287-305, 302, 1990, and Gary Mauser, unpublished research study, 2004.
  39. This estimate excludes people with criminal records that would disqualify them from legally possessing firearms. Mauser, Gary (2005). An Assessment of Canada’s 1995 Firearm Legislation Ten Years Later. Journal on Firearms and Public Policy 17 (Fall): 1–25.
  40. Prior to the First World War, US President Teddy Roosevelt founded the Boone and Crocket Club to promote wildlife conservation in the US. http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trenv.html.
  41. One of the foremost advocates of the North American Model is Professor Val Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary. For more information, see, “The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation as Means of Creating Wealth, Protecting Public Health while Generating Biodiversity,” presented at the Wildlife Conservation: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability Symposium, 16-19 June 2004 Limerick, Ireland.
  42. In 1960, Ontario was the first province in Canada to require hunters to complete mandatory safety training (http://www.ofah.org/hunting/ohep). The other provinces soon followed. In the US, see the National Shooting Sports Foundation (http://www.nssf.org).
  43. Accidental firearms deaths in Canada have dropped from 143 in 1971 to 16 in 2011, the latest year statistics are available. Statistics Canada. Chapter XX: External causes of morbidity and mortality. CanSim, March 2015 extraction. The National Safety Council reports similar decreases is in the US as well. See NSC Injury Facts 2014, http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/injury-facts.aspx.
  44. Canadian Nature Survey, Op. cit.
  45. See the websites of Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for more information. As well, Canada’s provincial hunting organizations have contributed vast resources to wildlife conservation. See, for example, the websites of BC Wildlife Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. In the US, the Pittman-Robertson legislation has become the touchstone for other countries that wish to have sound conservation.
  46. Jeannene Powers, Investors in Habitat, Hunter Contributions to Wildlife Habitat Conservation in Canada, 2000. Wildlife Habitat Canada, Presented at the 2000 Premier’s Symposium on North America’s Hunting Heritage, Ottawa, Ontario.
  47. In New France and in British North America, firearms were important for defence of families in troubled areas. Consider the example of Madeline Vercheres who at 14 led the defence of her family fort. See this account: Madeline Vercheres, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/jarret_de_vercheres_marie_madeleine_3E.html.
  48. In Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie, Thomas Nelson, 2009, Clayton Cramer digs into many primary sources, including newspaper accounts and probate records, to show that people relied on guns to hunt, as well as being important to the success of colonial militias in the American colonies.
  49. For a more detailed history of aboriginal threat to early Canadian settlers, see Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada, 5th ed., 2007. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart.
  50. For a discussion of the militia in Lower Canada, see Desmond Morton, Op. cit. and The History of the Canadian Militia. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/.
  51. See R. Blake Brown’s, Arming and Disarming, A history of gun control in Canada, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2012.
  52. Sir John A. Macdonald opposed gun control legislation on the grounds that the defence of self, family or property was a legitimate reason for carrying a pistol upon the person. Debates, House of Commons, 5 June 1872, 997. Cited in Brown, Op. cit., p 70.
  53. Morton, ibid. In addition to the impressive military contribution that Canada made in both World Wars, Canadians served creditably during the South African War (1899-1902). However, it is less well known that the Canadian government issued rifles to civilians for coastal defence during World War II. Despite lacking formal military training, these volunteers, the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, were formally designated a corps in the Canadian Army as Special Forces (http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/organization/specialforces/pcmr.htm).
  54. The Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in France and “lone wolf” attacks in Canada and elsewhere are reopening the debate over the wisdom of arming civilians. Rabbi Menachem Margolin urged the EU to allow Jews to carry firearms for protection. Israel National News (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189932#.VMY5-VrDtk8). In 2013, after the attack by al-Shabab at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 67 people, Interpol Secretary General Ronald said, “What I'm saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.” Interpol Secretary General Ronald, http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/exclusive-westgate-interpol-chief-ponders-armed-citizenry/story?id=20637341.
  55. See section 34 of the criminal code (http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-13.html#docCont). However, the Ian Thomson saga illustrates how police approach those who use firearms to protect themselves. See the article in Macleans, http://www.macleans.ca/general/man-acquitted-of-charges-in-home-attack-hopes-self-defence-precedent-bolstered/.
  56. See G Mauser, Armed Self Defense: the Canadian Case, Op. cit.
  57. This is usually stated as, “Under the common law and police statutes the police owe a duty to the public as a whole and not to specific individuals.” For a discussion of exceptions to this standard, see Legal Standards on Policing Obligations (http://www.missingwomeninquiry.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Evolving-Canadian-and-International-Legal-Standards-on-Policing-Obligations.pdf).
  58. Source: G Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2014 extraction.
  59. Adam Cotter. Op cit. A homicide is classified by Statistics Canada as gang-related when police suspect or confirm that the accused or the victim was either a gang member, or a prospective member, of an organized crime group or street gang, or was somehow associated with an organized crime group or street gang, and that the homicide was carried out as a result of this association.
  60. Adam Cotter, Op. cit.
  61. Source: G Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2014 extraction.
  62. Adam Cotter, Op. cit.
  63. Stolen firearms have not been found to be a major contributor to crime. According to the Toronto Police, between 2% and 20% of “crime guns” (depending upon the year) have been stolen from a lawful owner. In my 2014 Special Request to Statistics Canada I found that just 6% of guns used in murder had ever been registered, implying that firearms stolen from law-abiding owners must be even fewer than that. Philip J. Cook, Wendy Cukier and Keith Krause report similar findings in their article, The illicit firearms trade in North America, Criminology and Criminal Justice, August 2009 vol. 9 no. 3 265-286.
  64. In 2013, Canada imported over $300 billion in goods from the US, and $20 billion from China. International Imports, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/gblec02a-eng.htm.
  65. Lott, John Jr., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States. 9 July 2014. Concealed Carry Permit Holders, http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Concealed-Carry-Permit-Holders-Across-the-United-States.pdf.
  66. See Caillin Langmann, MD. 2012. Canadian Firearms Legislation and Effects on Homicide 1974 to 2008. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(12) 2303–2321. JIPV Sage, http://jiv.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/01/27/0886260511433515.
  67. Between 1997 and 2012, 4.5 % of firearms used in murder were reported registered to the accused. Source: G Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2014 extraction.
  68. GPC Research. 2002. Fall 2001 Estimate of Firearms in Canada, Report on Findings. These estimates are based on surveys, but such estimates tend to be low, Kleck, 1997. Op. cit. Import/export estimates of gun numbers tend to yield somewhat higher estimates, but they are undoubtedly too high because usually greater care has been taken to track imports than exports. Import/export estimates find at least 11 M and were calculated as follows: 1.9 M registered by RCMP in 1945, plus 6 M manufactured by Cooey between 1920 and 1970s, plus 8 M imported between 1945 and 2000. Approximately 4.7 M exported between 1970 and 1998, and approximately 300,000 were deactivated between 1978 and 2000. Garry Breitkreuz, MP. How many guns are there in Canada? 13 December 2001. Guns in Canada, http://www.garrybreitkreuz.com/publications/GunsinCanada.htm.
  69. RCMP, Commissioner of Firearms Annual Report, 2011.
  70. In general, homicide victims are male (71%), as as accused persons (88%).
  71. Source: Gary Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2013 extraction.
  72. Samara McPhedran and Gary Mauser. 2013. Lethal Firearm-Related Violence Against Canadian Women: Did Tightening Gun Laws Have an Impact on Women’s Health and Safety? Violence and Victims, Volume 28, Number 5, 875-883. McPhedran and Mauser, http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/vav/2013/00000028/00000005/art00009.
  73. Adam Cotter, op. cit. Research has shown that these decreases may be driven by social and economic changes such as the againg society and increased labour force participation rates for women. For more information, see Dawson, M., V. Pottie Bunge and T. Baldé. 2009. National Trends in Intimate Partner Homicides: Explaining Declines in Canada, 1976 to 2001. Violence Against Women, Vol. 15, Issue 3. p. 276-306, and Sinha Maire. 2012. Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2010. Juristat. Statistics Canada, catalogue no. 85-002-X, Ottawa, Canada.
  74. Adam Cotter, Op. Cit.
  75. Neither the federal Liberals nor the NDP appear eager to reinstate the long-gun registry. Trudeau forthrightly rejects its reintroduction, as do key lieutenants in the NDP, although NDP Leader Mulcair promises he would reintroduce it.
  76. Source: G Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2013 extraction.
  77. The Home Office reports that under 10% of firearms used in homicide are legally held by the murderer, see Home Office (2001), Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 2000, Norwich: HM SO. The Australian Institute of Criminology report that 18% of firearms used in homicide are legally held, see Mouzos, J. (2000), The Licensing and Registration Status of Firearms Used in Homicide. Trends and Issues no. 151, Canberra, ACT: Australian Institute of Criminology.
  78. Maire Sinha. O.p cit.
  79. Adam Cotter, Op. cit; Gary Mauser, Speical Request Statistics Canada, 2014.
  80. The definition of “multiple-victim murders” varies from two or more victims to four or more victims. To conform to the definition used in a recent FBI report, multiple-victim murders will be defined here as murders with three or more victims in a single incident. Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, 28 USC 530C(b)(1)(M)(i).
  81. Source: G Mauser, Special Request Statistics Canada, CCJS, Homicide Survey, 2011 extraction.
  82. In addition to an aging society, other important demographic factors in Canada that are significantly correlated with the murder rate are unemployment, foreign immigration, and the relative size of the aboriginal population. See Gary Mauser and Richard Holmes, An evaluation of the 1977 Canadian Firearms Legislation, Evaluation Review, December 1992, Vol. 16, No 6, pp. 603-617.
  83. Derek Abma. Canada’s murder rate drops to lowest level since 1966. National Post, http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/10/26/murder-rate-drops-to-lowest-level-in-44-years/.
  84. Hahn, Robert A., Oleg O. Bilukha, Alex Crosby, Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Akiva Liberman, Eve K. Moscicki, Susan Snyder, Farris Tuma, Peter Briss, (2003). First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws. Findings from the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm). Wellford, Charles F., John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, eds. (2004). Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. National Academies Press (http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10881).
  85. UK Legislation, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/27.
  86. “England and Wales” is the principal jurisdiction of the UK. Scotland and Northern Ireland collect crime statistics independently.
  87. Alison Walker, Chris Kershaw and Sian Nicholas. Crime in England and Wales 2005/06. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 12/06; Gary Mauser, Do Restrictive Firearm Laws Improve Public Safety? In Prohibitions, John Meadowcroft (ed.), the Institute of Economic Affairs, London, England, 2008.
  88. Baker, J. and S. McPhedran. 2007. Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference? British J. Criminology. 47, 455–469; Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi, 2008. The Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths. Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 17/08; McPhedran, S., J. Baker, and P. Singh. 2010. Firearm Homicide in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand: What Can We Learn From Long-Term International Comparisons? Journal of Interpersonal Violence XX(X) 1–12.
  89. See Kates, Don B., and Gary Mauser. 2007. Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 30, 2 (Spring): 649–94.
  90. The homicide rates are drawn from Global Study of Homicide, 2011, UN Office of Drugs and Crime. Estimates of civilian gun ownership are much more problematic, as observed earlier in this report. Despite their inadequacies, they nevertheless are the best available estimates of the number of civilian who own firearms in Europe. They were drawn from the compilation by Small Arms Survey. Completing the Count, Civilian Firearms, Chapter 2, Small Arms Survey 2007, http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/full/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-EN.pdf.
  91. According to the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2913273/Europe-s-rabbis-petition-EU-demanding-new-laws-allow-Jews-carry-guns-protect-wake-recent-terror-attacks.html#ixzz3XUUTKDTb), European rabbis demand that Jews be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves in the wake of recent terror attacks. The Times of Israel reports that a contemporary Polish politician argues that the Holocaust would have been preventable if every Jew had a gun (http://www.timesofisrael.com/polish-politician-holocaust-preventable-if-every-jew-had-a-gun/).
  92. The restrictions were policy interpretations of the 1925 Firearms Act. In Ireland, murder does not include manslaughter. For additional information, see Gun Policy. http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/cp/ireland
  93. For more thorough discussion, see Gary Mauser, 2008. Op. cit.
  94. The Gun Court Act, Ministry of Justice, Government of Jamaica. The Gun Court Act (http://www.moj.gov.jm/laws/statutes/The Gun Court Act.pdf). For supplementary information, see Gun Policy - Jamaica (http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/jamaica).
  95. I am indebted to Professor Emeritus Alexander Francis of the University of the Western Indies for access to his extensive time-series of crime statistics in Jamaica. The murder rates in Jamaica include manslaughter, as they do in the United States.
 

Recently, a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that our government’s law requiring a mandatory sentence of three years for the crime of “possessing prohibited or restricted firearms when the firearm is loaded or kept with readily accessible ammunition”; and five years for the second or subsequent offences, was unconstitutional.

It is important to note that, while the majority struck down the mandatory sentencing law, it did so on very narrow grounds. All nine justices — the six in the majority and the three in dissent — actually agreed that mandatory prison sentences are legitimate criminal justice tools and are appropriate in the vast majority of gun crimes. In fact, the Court upheld the sentences of the two individuals whose sentences were at issue, both of which were longer than the mandatory sentences that the Court struck down.

Overall, we are pleased that the Court recognized that our mandatory prison sentences are appropriate tools to fight serious gun crime. However, we agree with the three dissenting judges that it is unfortunate that the majority used a far-fetched hypothetical scenario to stretch a law designed to take gang members and those who seek to commit violent gun crime off the streets into a law that could impact law-abiding firearms owners.

Our government has consistently respected the rights of law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters, which is why we eliminated the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry scheme set up by the previous Liberal government at a cost to taxpayers of more than a billion dollars. And we have full faith — as the three dissenting justices do — in the ability of the Crown to use appropriate discretion not to seek the mandatory sentences in cases involving only technical violations of firearms licensing laws.

With respect to mandatory prison sentences for firearms offences, the intention of Parliament was very clear: our laws are meant to target dangerous and violent offenders. We believe that gang-related gun crime, particularly gun crimes committed by repeat offenders, are serious offences that deserve serious penalties. Light sentences for such crimes rightly offend public sensibilities and undermine confidence in our judicial system. In the words of the dissenting justices in this case, “Parliament’s choice to raise the mandatory minimums in s. 95 reflects valid and pressing objectives.”

Mandatory prison sentences are nothing new; they have been used as a way to deter violent criminals since the Criminal Code was created more than 120 years ago. Today, the Criminal Code provides for more than 60 mandatory sentencing provisions for a range of serious criminal acts such as murder, kidnapping, treason, and impaired driving causing bodily harm. We are pleased that all nine justices of the Supreme Court have recognized their validity in addressing violent crime.

We agree with the Court that penalties should match the severity of the crimes committed. This was clearly demonstrated by the use of new sentencing provisions introduced by our government to impose consecutive terms of imprisonment — 75 years in total — in the sentencing of the assailant who shot four RCMP officers in Moncton. And, while we agree with the three dissenting justices that the majority’s concerns in this case “are not grounded in experience or common sense” and do not provide “a sound basis on which to nullify Parliament’s considered response to a serious and complex issue,” we do welcome the Court’s suggestion that Parliament could re-enact the same mandatory sentences with a carve-out for technical violations of licensing provisions that do not pose a direct danger to others. In responding to the Court’s decision, we will carefully consider this invitation.

Our government will also continue to strive to toughen sanctions where we feel Canadians are at a risk from serious crimes — whether it be gun crime, offences against children, human trafficking, gang-related violence, or sexual assault. We strongly believe that we are acting in the best interests of families and communities, within the bounds of the Constitution, with respect for the democratic process, and with the confidence of Canadians.

National Post

Peter MacKay is the Justice Minister of Canada.

 

Tell them like it is Lorne! Good article

The hysterical elite reaction to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent statement about guns, self-defence and rural homes has demonstrated once again just how anti-gun are Canada’s liberal policy and opinion makers.

It has also shown just how detached these smug, we-know-better-than-you types truly are – detached from the facts and detached from the reality of daily life.

It has been obvious for several years that those who run Canada’s lenient criminal justice system hate – hate! – the idea of ordinary citizens owning guns; and hate even more the idea of citizens using those guns to defend their loved ones, themselves or their property.

Time after time over the past decade, when a regular Canadian has used a legally owned firearm to ward off an attack, that citizen has ended up being charged with greater crimes than his attacker.

Talk about a system that has its priorities screwed up. Law-abiding gun owners are routinely treated as greater threats to public safety than repeat offenders with long rap sheets.

Don’t believe me? Just ask David Chen, Ian Thomson, Brian Knight, Joe Singleton and a host of others. Each of them used a weapon to fend off an attacker or intruder, and each ended up facing longer jail time than the criminal who threatened him.

But the already hysterically anti-gun, anti-self-defence legal and media establishments in this country switched into hyperdrive when Harper told a convention of Saskatchewan rural leaders last week that in rural areas, “Gun ownership (isn’t) just for the farm, it (is) also for a certain level of security when you're a ways away from police.”

That’s not an ideological rant, it’s a statement of fact. If you live 20, 30 or more minutes from the nearest police station, you might need to have a gun around if you, your family or your home are attacked.

Urban academics, reporters and lawyers immediately sprang into outraged mode.

Many insisted the PM was promoting vigilantism. Such allegations merely revealed how clueless those making them are about self-defence.

Vigilantism is taking the law into one’s own hands. It involves seeing a crime going untreated by police and the courts, hunting down the perpetrators and exacting vengeance.

When a criminal enters your home or property with the intent to do you harm, you have an ancient right to defend yourself, including whatever force is required. You didn’t go looking for the criminal, he came looking for you.

Then there were critics who insisted Canada has no legal tradition for armed self-defence.

We may not have an equivalent of the Americans’ Second Amendment in our Constitution, but we inherited our right to own weapons for self-defence from the British where the legal precedents go back 1,300 years.

There was even a law on the books in Upper Canada requiring every man age 15 to 60 to own “a good and sufficient musket, fusil rifle or gun” for self-defence and for use in the militia.

But the most ridiculous suggestion (and the one farthest removed from the real world) came from two University of Ottawa professors, Irvin Waller and Michael Kempa. (Not surprisingly, Kempa is seeking a Liberal nomination for this fall’s federal election.)

The pair actually suggested (this wasn’t meant as a joke), “developing crime and violence reduction programs” in rural communities and providing “non-violent conflict resolution training in schools.”

They may as well be saying, “Oh, excuse me Mr. Burglar, before you shoot me, might I suggest you read this helpful brochure entitled ‘With our words, not our fists.’ Then perhaps you will join me at the local high school for their new conflict-resolution workshop. My treat!”

Ironically, Profs. Waller and Kempa (the Liberal MP wannabe) accused Harper of being the “elitist.”

lorne.gunter@sunmedia.ca

 

The head of Canada’s largest gun lobby has raised the spectre that unhappy gun owners – long considered loyal supporters of the Conservative party – may stay home on federal election day if they don’t start getting what they want.

“I think our members are critical thinkers and I think they are looking for deeds, not words,” said Sheldon Clare, president of the 75,000-member National Firearms Association.

As the Conservative government courts gun owners in advance of the expected October election, Clare cited the example of Kim Campbell, the last Conservative prime minister to run afoul of gun owners. Campbell, who advocated tighter controls, lost the 1993 election.

“I remember another Canadian prime minister who acted against the interests of Canadian firearms owners; the situation that she faced in that subsequent election is where large numbers of otherwise supportive voters chose not to support that party and in many cases they just didn’t vote,” said Clare.

“If anyone thinks the firearms issue was not part of her defeat, they are very, very mistaken. I know I worked very hard at that time to make sure that her summer job would end quickly and I’m pleased to say it did.”

Clare said his members are watching closely what the Harper government does with two proposed bills. Bill C-42, otherwise known as the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, and Bill C-51, the government’s anti-terrorism legislation, are both flawed and gun owners want change, he said.

Bill C-51 has an appearance “of being a sort of creeping police state bill” that has raised concern about privacy and oversight of intelligence agencies, Clare said. Bill C-42, on the other hand, doesn’t go far enough to support gun owners, he said.

Introduced in early October, Bill C-42 was supposed to be debated on Oct. 22, the day Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot a soldier at the National War Memorial, then stormed Parliament Hill. Instead, it was sent for second reading a little more than a month later, and it is unclear when it will clear committee.

Manitoba MP Robert Sopuck, chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, blamed the “legislative process” and crowded docket of pending legislation for the delay, but said the government is committed to passing C-42. He said it has widespread support from associations of hunters and anglers across the country.

“There’s an old saying in legislation: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Our government has to balance the rights of hunters and firearms owners with the important requirement to protect public safety. I’m confident this bill does that,” said Sopuck.

The NFA is particularly concerned that C-42 doesn’t sufficiently loosen restrictions on the transportation of firearms, and that gun owners can’t challenge the tests to secure licences. As it stands now, Bill C-42 is “not good firearms legislation,” said Clare, adding he is optimistic “that we’ll see some true changes.”

The politically active association is also circulating petitions demanding changes to gun classification, and says it is waiting for the government to repeal provisions of bills C-17 and C-68, unpopular with gun owners. C-17 changed requirements for acquiring a firearms licence, introducing waiting periods and mandatory training while increasing penalties for some gun-related crime. Bill C-68 created harsher penalties for gun crime, introduced a new licensing system and created provincial firearms officers.

“We were expecting more. I’d be misleading you if we said we weren’t disappointed in the lack of effort in a number of areas,” Clare said of the Conservative government’s nine years in power.

“It’s been a long time putting up with bad law.”

Sopuck, however, said the Conservative party has to “govern for all Canadians.”

“I think (Bill C-42) does move the ball in a significant way; on the other hand balancing the need for public safety is very important,” said Sopuck. “There is no way that any government, with any piece of legislation, will make everybody happy. All I can say is the strong endorsement we have for C-42 across the country, I am very satisfied with it.”

Jeremy Laurin, press secretary for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, said in an email that the government “is standing up for law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters. That’s why we introduced the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act to reduce needless red tape while keeping Canadians safe.”

Clare said the gun lobby has serious concerns about the agendas of the other political parties “which are clearly unfriendly to gun owners.”

“There is a bit of a combination of a need to see real change, coupled with a need to make sure that change doesn’t go in the wrong direction,” he said. “Far be it from me to tell people how to vote, but I think people are looking very closely at who their friends are and who their friends are not and those who claim to be their friends.

“I think a lot of people will be looking at their individual member of Parliament and making their voting choices based on those members.”

aseymour@ottawacitizen.com

Twitter.com/andrew_seymour

 

BRIAN LILLEY | SUN NEWS NETWORK

OTTAWA -- RCMP officers acted outside of the law when they conducted warrantless searches and seizures of firearms during the southern Alberta floods of 2013, according to an independent report.

The seizures angered many residents of High River, just south of Calgary.

The report, issued by commission chair Ian McPhail, found that in instances where RCMP members entered homes to look for flood survivors their actions were lawful.

"However, once inside the homes, RCMP members discovered firearms and contraband and, with insufficient supervision and guidance by senior RCMP members or any judicial oversight, performed warrantless searches and seizures of firearms from some of the evacuated homes."

Mounties claim they don't need warrants to seize firearms and that they only seized guns that were unsecured or improperly stored and in plain view.

MacPhail's report says that's not the case.

"In a number of instances, RCMP members seized firearms that were properly secured or that were not in plain view. In these cases the firearms were not removed with lawful authority."

The report also points out that while officers may have been justified in entering homes initially to search for survivors, subsequent visits to seize guns amounted to illegal warrantless searches.

McPhail's report lauds the Mounties for the good work they did in finding people stranded by the flood, rescuing pets or retrieving other items but the report points out that these good works do not absolve the RCMP from going beyond what is legally allowed.

"In several cases the searches exceeded their authorized scope by expanding from a search for people or pets to a search for firearms or contraband," McPhail states.

The commission interviewed residents who had moved their lawfully-owned guns to higher levels of their homes to protect them from the flood waters yet despite hiding the guns under sleeping bags, linens and the like returned home to find that the police had taken the firearms.

The Mounties claimed their seizures were justified by section 489 of the Criminal Code allowing police to seize items found in plain view while conducting a lawful search.

In some cases, the report indicates that guns were seized in this manner and in compliance with the law but slams the police force for failing to follow through on their legal requirements by reporting what was seized to a judge.

"Absent a warrant, RCMP members were obligated to report their seizures to a justice pursuant to section 489.1 of the Criminal Code. The judicial oversight component of seizures cannot be overstated in the context of police officers taking personal property from a home," the report states.

The commission is not authorized to recommend criminal charges or sanctions against RCMP members that broke the law. Instead the report recommends better training in dealing with emergency situations, better communications and developing a policy for dealing with firearms seizures in future disasters.

The RCMP has not responded to the report publicly.

OTTAWA — The Conservative government appears to be quietly shelving its controversial “Common Sense” gun bill in light of Wednesday’s shooting.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan’s office was silent Friday about the future of Bill C-42. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s office refused to comment, directing inquiries to Van Loan. The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act was scheduled to be debated for the first time on the day of the shootings, with three days set aside for discussion. It no longer figures on the government’s stated agenda.

But NDP Public Safety critic Randall Garrison told The Huffington Post Canada on Friday that he understands why the government might want to shelve this bill for the time being.

“I think it’s obvious that the climate where firearms were used to murder a member of the Canadian Forces and to bring an attack into the House of Commons means that the climate for a discussion on a bill that would loosen, in any way, restrictions over the licensing of firearms is unlikely to be something the government wants to do right now,” he said.

The firearms bill has drawn criticism from the NDP, the Liberals and the Coalition for Gun Control for loosening restrictions on the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms and for giving the cabinet rather than the RCMP the final say over the classification of dangerous weapons.

In the House, Van Loan said the “bill would cut red tape for law-abiding firearms owners and provide safe and simple firearms policies.”

Garrison, however, argues that the bill increases the threat to public safety.

Right now, he said, anyone who wishes to transport a restricted or prohibited firearms has to obtain a permit. “If you’re not on a straight trajectory from A to B, then you are in violation.”

The new bill changes that.

Not only will firearms owners no longer need a transportation permit, he said, but they will also be able to assert that they were heading to any one of five places: a gun shop, a gun range, a police station, an exit point from Canada or a gun show.

“Someone who wishes to transport the gun illegally has, if you wish, cover by just naming any of those five places,” Garrison said. “There may be better ways to deal with transportation in rural areas, but certainly it will create great difficulty for police in urban areas.

“If you can’t enforce the law against the illegal transportation of firearms, it’s a threat to public safety.”

Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter said he is also concerned about the relaxation of transportation permits and the possibility that someone could stop at a bar on their way home from the shooting range. Easter said, however, that his main preoccupation is that the bill shifts responsibility over the classification and reclassification of dangerous firearms away from the RCMP to the minister of public safety and the cabinet.

“That is a very worrisome, that we would give the political minister, who for whatever reason – [perhaps] to do favour with a certain interest group –[the power to] move a gun from restricted to non-restricted [classification]” Easter said.

The minister can have a say, the Liberal critic said, but when you leave the decision to an impartial group, such as the RCMP, “then you’re going to have better policy, because you don’t have a political axe to grind – they have the safety agenda to look at.”

The Canadian Police Association, however, told HuffPost that it members are not overly concerned by changes proposed in the bill. Giving the government the final say on classifications “isn’t a policy shift that presents significant concerns, provided that the government gives serious consideration to the advice and information provided by law enforcement personnel, particularly those who are involved on the front lines in our communities,” spokesman Michael Gendron said.

Earlier this year, the Conservative government stepped in to grant owners of Swiss Arms Classic Green firearms or CZ858 rifles a two-year amnesty after the RCMP reclassified the semi-automatic rifles as prohibited firearms.

The reclassification came after a year-long review by the RCMP, which determined that the gun could be easily convertible to fully automatic use. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney was informed of the impending change and signed off on it. When the decision was actually made, however, he said the change by “unelected bureaucrats” was news to him.

The National Firearms Association (NFA) has long argued that the RCMP is on a covert mission to prohibit non-restricted firearms in order to confiscate guns from licensed owners.

Easter said the government was “catering” to gun folks who believe that the Mounties have such an agenda.

Blair Hagen, the NFA’s vice-president of communications, acknowledged that the Tories are trying to curry favour with gun owners previously annoyed with the RCMP’s decision to prohibit Swiss Arms rifles.

“Unlike previous reclassifications, these guns are owned in Canada in quantity,” Hagen said, pegging the number about 14,000. “We are talking about thousands of rifles, in the hands of thousands of firearms licensees, so when the RCMP forced the issue … a lot of people got very upset, contacted their MPs, contacted the government … and I think they understood the seriousness of the situation,” he said.

Unlike several other groups such as the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, the NFA is not backing C-42. Hagen said the bill addresses only “bureaucratic largesse” and “useless paperwork” and doesn’t go far enough in fixing Canada’s gun laws.

Still, he is pleased to see the government try to curb the power of provincial firearms officers who, he says, are using transportation permits to “control ownership of firearms.” Hagen said provincial firearms officers have been tying decisions over the issuing of authorization to transport to the issuing and revocation of firearms licences and registration. “This has been a long-standing complaint,” he said.

The “Common Sense” firearms bill gives the cabinet the right to limit the discretionary authority of provincial chief firearms officers – though the bill does not explain what exactly the government wants to address.

That has people such as the Coalition for Gun Control's President Wendy Cukier concerned.

Bill C-42, she said, goes far beyond the government’s efforts to reduce controls on rifles and shotguns, dismantle the registry and to destroy the data on who owns what guns.

“Now, [it] relaxes controls on military assault weapons, relaxes controls on handguns and restricted weapons, weakens the powers of the provincial chief firearms officers to rigorously implement controls and even relaxes somewhat the controls on firearms licences,” she said. “It’s part of a continuous chipping away of the legislation.”

Cukier is also concerned that public safety could be threatened by a measure in the bill to convert all possession only licences (POL) into possession and acquisition licences (PALs).

Gun owners, who were previously allowed to keep their firearms without going through the vigorous screening reserved for people who want to get new guns, will be allowed to purchase new firearms without screening if the bill goes through, she said. “They have opened a huge loophole, because people with possession only licences were not screened nearly as rigorously as the others.”

While Easter and Garrison said there are aspects of the bill they like – including a measure that would make it more difficult for someone convicted of domestic violence to own a firearm – they both noted that their respective parties had yet to take a clear position against the bill.

While C-42 seems benched for now, nobody believes it will stay on the shelf forever.

“I don’t have any expectation that they would see that this shooting or any other shooting has implications for what they intend to do for the legislation,” Cukier of the Coalition for Gun Control said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear two weeks ago that he intends to talk about the gun laws in the next election. Harper suggested that “bureaucratic initiatives” are “effectively trying to put the long gun registry back in through the back door.”

"This is not something we can tolerate," he told a Northern Ontario gathering hosted by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

The branding for Bill C-42 is also reminiscent of the campaign against the long-gun registry.

Hagen, of the NFA, said the government will inevitably bring back Bill C-42 or introduce another bill, entirely because of pressure from interest groups, especially in rural areas and western Canada.

“[This] frankly knee jerk reaction by opposition MPs in the face of even modest firearms law reform like this is ludicrous.”

“This will be an election issue in 2015,” he predicted.

 

Harper government stops RCMP firearms reclassification system in its tracks

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (CILA) support new federal regulations to strip the RCMP of the authority to reclassify firearms.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced new Firearms Records Regulation (Classification) on August 15 that prevents the RCMP from reclassifying guns in the future. The minister vowed to rein in the RCMP after they suddenly prohibited Swiss Arms and CZ-858 rifles without warning earlier this year.

“It is very encouraging to see Minister Blaney following through on his plan to end firearms reclassifications by anti-gun civil servants,” says CSSA/CILA executive director Tony Bernardo. “Gun owners have been shell-shocked by becoming overnight criminals when power-hungry police placed restrictions on firearms according to their whim.

“The RCMP have expressed frustration when they couldn't protect the useless gun registry from extinction,” adds Bernardo. “They in turn retaliated with senseless reclassifications designed to frustrate gun owners and the government. It saddens us that the RCMP keep reacting like angry grade schoolers.”

The Harper government has been putting gradual pressure on several unfair Canadian gun control laws passed by previous federal administrations. The new reclassification regulation is effective immediately and prohibits the Registrar of Firearms from amending its records following a one-year period after a reclassification record is created. In doing so, the Harper government is striving to reinforce gun owners' property rights by preventing records from being unfairly changed.

“This is another important step in the right direction to deliver fairer laws for responsible gun owners,” explains Bernardo. “It appears to continue the trend that we have seen since Minister Blaney was appointed to his portfolio just over a year ago. After the gun registry was scrapped, the government appeared stalled in its efforts to bring firearms legislation closer to what gun owners rightfully deserve.

“There are many completely useless laws in the books that don't keep Canadians safer – and they need to go, too,” says Bernardo. “The CSSA is continuing to work with the minister to return the equity that Canada's gun owners have coming to them. With a federal election looming next year, it is important for the government to shore up support within this core constituency.”

 

Good topic by Matt Gurney for all ill informed politicians

On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced a series of reforms to Canada’s needlessly convoluted system of gun control regulations. While the proposed reforms could go further in addressing many of the problems that have long attended our gun control laws, the proposals being put forward by the Conservative government are at least a step in the right direction.

Many of the changes are aimed at simply reducing red tape. The two current types of firearms licence — a Possession licence for those who wish to own guns, and a Possession and Acquisition licence for those who may wish to obtain more later — will be consolidated into one. A grace period will be established to prevent the criminalization of good-faith gun owners whose licences expire before they can be renewed (a process that can, inexcusably, drag on for months). These are worthy, and generally uncontroversial, proposals.

Other proposals are equally welcome: The Tories intend to make it easier for anyone convicted of a domestic assault to lose their firearms, perhaps for life, and a gun safety course will be mandatory for everyone applying for a firearms licence (under the current laws, it was possible to skip the course if one “challenged” the safety test, and passed it, without having taken the course). Again, these are reasonable improvements over the status quo.

The final proposed reform is more substantive, and very much welcome: the long-overdue elimination of so-called Authorization to Transport permits, or ATTs, which governed the movement of restricted or prohibited firearms (generally meaning handguns). Someone licensed to own such a firearm in Canada is only legally permitted to use it in very narrow and well defined circumstances, typically, at an approved shooting range. The ATT permits gave a licensed gun owner permission to legally transport their firearms, provided they were trigger-locked and transported in a secure, locked container, from their home to such a range. There are also short-term ATTs, which authorize a licensed gun owner to pick up a new firearm and transport it to their home, or to take it back and forth between a gunsmith for maintenance or repairs.

The ATT system has always been a bizarre duplication of safeguards already contained within the licensing provisions of the Firearms Act. It makes little sense that someone who has already been approved to own a handgun, having obtained a licence and gone through a thorough background screening, should then need to apply for a separate permission to do pick it up at a store and drive it home.

The permission to transport a firearm back to one’s residence, and to and fro a certified firing range, always ought to have been inherent in the firearms licence itself. Consider, for instance, how drivers would react if they were told that being a properly licensed driver, with a registered and insured vehicle, wasn’t good enough, and that they needed to apply for a separate permit to actually drive their car. They’d rightly wonder if that wasn’t what a driver’s licence was supposed to be.

The same is true for firearms licences. If any police force believes that someone is safe to own a handgun, that person should be permitted to transport one, properly locked and secured, to a place where that firearm may be legally use or serviced. Conversely, anyone who is, for whatever reason, believed too dangerous to transport a firearm back and forth between a gunsmith’s shop or a firing range should automatically be considered too dangerous to possess one in their home. The ATTs added nothing to our gun control system that actually served to make the public any safer, and merely created needless red tape and bureaucratic delays, as the provincial officials tasked with their issuance often lagged well behind their federal counterparts in issuing approvals. (I speak from experience: Several years ago, having been approved by the federal Canadian Firearms Centre to purchase a firearm for use in shooting sports, I had to wait several weeks for Ontario bureaucrats to get around to issuing me the permit that allowed me to pick it up from the store and return it to my home. Why?)

While the proposed reforms would simplify the process, the law would remain functionally the same

Critics will suggest that this reflects a weakening of our gun control laws. Nonsense. While the proposed reforms would simplify the process, the law would remain functionally the same: Only licensed individuals would be permitted to transport a properly registered firearm between specific locations, and only then if the firearms was properly locked and secured. Red tape is being reduced, certainly, but not oversight or protections for public safety.

This is appropriate. Canada has extremely low rates of gun violence, and is indeed a safer country than it has been in generations. Millions of Canadians own and use firearms responsibly, but have long been forced to do so under a convoluted system of overlapping regulations. Anything that reduces this regulatory overkill while preserving public safety is something that Canadians should support.

The new Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act is poised to:

  • Merge the Possession Only License (POL) and the Possession and Acquisition license (PAL)

  • End the Authorization to Transport system for target shooting

  • Restrict the ability of Chief Firearms Officers (CFO's) to make arbitrary decisions

  • Create a grace period at the end of a five-year license expiry to prevent criminal charges for expired paperwork

  • Create mandatory firearms safety courses for first time gun owners

  • Strengthen firearms prohibitions for those who are convicted of domestic violence offences

Ignorance at work again.

TORONTO – Olivia Chow promises to lobby the federal government to ban handguns in Toronto and push city council to further bolster crime prevention strategies in neighbourhoods if elected mayor.

“I believe that taking guns out of people’s hand means fewer guns on the streets,” Chow said. “There’s no reason why people need hand guns in a big city like ours.”

The former federal MP for Trinity-Spadina made her campaign announcement Monday morning at Toronto’s Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene in north Toronto.

“The mayor opposed the long gun registry. I want to work with big city mayors to tighten controls.”

It was seven years this month when 11-year-old Ephraim Brown was fatally shot attending a birthday party at a townhouse in North York.

The police investigation revealed the boy was caught in the crossfire when gunshots erupted between two rival groups during the gathering.

“We’re number four in big cities, in terms of young people involved in gun crimes,” she said.

Chow explained her campaign on crime prevention also includes strengthening community partnerships in at-risk neighbourhoods by having police interact more frequently with churches, community centres and social workers.

“We don’t need to hire more police officers. With better shift work, we can get more officers out on the streets,” explained Chow. “It’s really about partnership and meeting the needs of the community.”

Fellow mayoral candidate John Tory responded to Chow’s comments in a press release, saying a ban on hand guns would not curb gun violence. He also advocated working with the community as a means to get firearms off Toronto’s streets.

“What Ms. Chow doesn’t seem to understand is that criminals and gang members don’t obey the law. Calling for such a ban isn’t leadership. It’s an empty gesture,” he said. “As your Mayor, I will work tirelessly with community groups and police to get guns and gangs off our streets.”

In a web chat with the Toronto Star this past April, Chow said she would support a Toronto handgun ban.

Back then, fellow candidate Karen Stintz responded by saying Chow “hasn’t done her homework” on the gun issue in Toronto and referenced 2008 when council requested the federal government to ban handguns in Canada.

“We need a mayor that is going to take care of our neighbourhoods and help contribute to creating safe spaces for all Torontonians,” Stintz said in a statement. “We don’t need a mayor that will focus on steps we have already taken.”

In her press conference, Chow also promised to push for better after-school programs and create 5,000 jobs for young people.

She said there’s also a need to examine de-escalation tactics involving people with mental illness.

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floods-gunter
Floods water. (QMI Agency)

Mounties in Alberta are set to update their policy manuals regarding disaster response “in the very near future.” In light of the devastating floods that roared through the southern third of the province in the summer of 2013, that’s probably wise.

But the draft manual (obtained through access to information by independent firearms researcher Dennis Young) shows that RCMP’s K Division is intent on making gun grabbing a permanent part of its disaster action plan.

Since it remains a criminal offence in Canada to store a gun in your home without a trigger lock or outside a locked cabinet, the Mountie manual urges officers in the middle of a rescue operation to round up all the guns the see.

“You may seize any item in plain view that may provide evidence of the commission of an offence, if there is a pre-existing lawful reason for intrusion upon the person or premises,” the document claims.

No doubt the Mounties will argue that once they have been asked by local emergency officials to go door-to-door to hunt for survivors, that satisfies the requirement of a “pre-existing lawful reason."

You might think after the hornets’ nest the RCMP stirred up in High River last year they would stay away from grabbing private property from private homes, but not so.

The manual also says any evidence collected by Mounties while scouring for survivors in evacuated towns must have been discovered “inadvertently” and must be “immediately apparent as incriminating evidence.”

In other words, Mounties can’t go looking for guns or meth labs or pinched credit cards. And they can’t examine private property to determine whether it is criminal. They have to know it’s criminal before touching it.

Both the existing and draft Mountie disaster handbooks rely on the “plain view doctrine,” a largely Common Law definition of what police can seize without a warrant. No doubt the RCMP believe “plain view” covers all their sins in High River, and that is why they are eager to codify it in their new manual.

But the plain-view doctrine as understood by Canadian courts is quite narrow.

Anything a Canadian “knowingly exposes to the public or abandons in a public place,” is deemed to be in plain view. Or anything a “peace officer … observes by use of one or more of his senses from a lawful vantage point,” is in plain view.

But here’s something I’m calling the “panty drawer doctrine”: If a Mountie is in a house without a warrant because he’s looking for survivors of disaster (legitimate), and he starts rifling through places no survivor would ever be able to hide – like underwear drawers, gun cabinets and fridges – then his actions are no longer covered by the “pre-existing lawful reason” for him to be in the home.

Nor is his discovery of any evidence “inadvertent.”

Similarly, if the Mounties search a home without a warrant after the immediate threat to human safety has passed, then they are not in a “lawful vantage point.” So they can take nothing they see – not even a giant metal tank labelled “Meth Cooking Equipment.”

If they go back to a home two or three times (as they did in High River), after they have already searched it once and found no survivors, then again they are not there as a result of the emergency. They can’t take stuff.

And if they target specific homes for warrantless searches because national police computers tell them firearms owners live there, then their purpose for entering the home is not protection of life and limb. It is an illegal search, pure and simple.

No policy manual can justify what happened in High River.

The federal government has granted a five-year amnesty to owners of Swiss Arms Classic Green semi-automatic rifles, who will be able to continue to possess their guns "without threat of criminal charges," according to a statement from the public safety minister's office.

Although the guns have been sold in Canada for a dozen years, the RCMP had been investigating a small group of rifles similar to the Classic Greens that were brought into Canada from the small arms manufacturer in Switzerland eight months ago,

These guns were repainted and modified versions of used models purchased in Switzerland. In an email to one of the stores that was selling the guns, the RCMP said they suspected the guns could be converted to automatic weapons.

Automatic weapons are banned in Canada. Semi-automatics are allowed as long as their magazines hold only five rounds.

It's not clear why the RCMP decided to prohibit a whole class of guns, including about 2,000 that had been legally purchased in Canada. The RCMP did not make an announcement about the ban and has not answered calls or emails from CBC News.

The National Firearms Association published the news about the ban on its Facebook page and website, and portrayed the prohibition as the beginning of a siege on other types of guns.

"Access to Information records show that RCMP have an aggressive firearms reclassification agenda and that prohibitions will not stop with the Swiss Arms series rifles," the association said.

Conservative MPs support 'law-abiding gun owners'

Monday afternoon, after the matter had been brought up by Conservative MPs in the House of Commons who promised to support law-abiding gun owners, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney's office issued a statement announcing the amnesty.

"The minister announced his intent to bring forward an amnesty to ensure that individuals in possession of these firearms can continue to possess their property without threat of criminal charges," wrote spokesman Jean-Christophe de Le Rue.

J.R. Cox, who operates The Shooting Edge, a Calgary gun store, told CBC the military-style carbines are the most expensive on the market, costing about $4,000.

"There is a movement within the RCMP and they don't like to see guns in the hands of anybody but themselves," he said about the Mounties' attempt to put them on a prohibited list.

Bryan Moir
First they came for the Armi Jaeger AP80 .22 Caliber Carbine, because it looked like an AK-47 and was scary, but I did not own one, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Walther G22 .22 caliber semi-automatic carbine, because it had a bullpup stock and looked scary, but I did not own one, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Swiss Arms Classic Green .223 semi-automatic, because they could and it looked scary, but I did not own one, so I did nothing.

Then they came for our guns to make them “secure”, because of a flood and a list they had of gun owners who lived there, but I did not live in High River, so I did nothing.

Then they came for my Remington 700 bolt action deer rifle, because it looked like a sniper rifle, made politicians with soft hands pee themselves, and it looked scary, but by that time no one was left to fight back.

They did not make these changes public by the light of day, but by the dark of night.

They undermined Parliament, subverted the law, and now they are in control. A coup by any other name.

Government bureaucrats with fully indexed pensions and unlimited tax funded budgets, work at nothing all day but to find ways to further entrap us in their web.

Where once we were free and liberty our business, we are now little more than indentured servants.

There are no more trips to the range, walks in the deer woods, or sunrises to be seen from our duck blinds.

Our freedoms and rights are long gone with our firearms.

Become a Member of the CSSA, renew or extend your membership, or make a donation today.

The fight for your rights is just beginning.

Remember when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made everyone feel proud?

That ship has sailed. As morale (and morals) within the RCMP have been ebbing steadily for years, the firearms confiscation machine is the straw that broke the horse's back. Gun owners across the country – whether or not they own Swiss Arms rifles – are incensed over the RCMP reclassification of the Swiss Arms series of rifles from unrestricted to prohibited.

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, the Mounties used the old one-two punch tactic by prohibiting the CZ-858 rifle, which is much more popular than the Swiss Arms rifles and widely owned by sport shooters. We hope gun owners will take a breath – hysterical news reports and blogs should be taken in context. Responsible firearms owners are the players in an elaborate game of chess.

Think the RCMP doesn't enjoy politics? The sudden reclassifications have been configured to convince gun owners that the Harper government lacks the authority or guts to stand up to arbitrary gun bans. As Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney girds for battle, however, the top cops at the RCMP may well wish they hadn't poked the Lion from Lévis-Bellechasse.

Blaney is a man who doesn’t like bullies. He knows that the Swiss Arms rifles in question are the sports cars of the shooting world and priced in the $3,000-$4,000 range. Blaney knows the Swiss Arms and the CZ-858 are popular hunting and range rifles that hold little interest for criminals. He also knows that the RCMP is taking a special delight in kicking sand in Stephen Harper's face on gun issues. With the next federal election looming and opposition polls solidifying, the RCMP want to chip away at the resolve of firearms owners by showcasing a government that can't or won't thwart gun bans.

Don't believe it. There have been a few allegations that the CSSA has gone dark during this controversy. Don't believe that, either. While the firearms community is running scared and typing tales of woe on Facebook, the CSSA is helping Minister Blaney and his advisers find the tools to oppose the Mounties' agenda.

When is the last time you heard a public safety minister publicly admonish our national police force for exceeding its mandate? This is without precedent, and gun owners need to appreciate that this is the stuff of nation-building.

Blaney made the following statement to media even before the CZ-858 ban – imagine his tone now: “I am upset by this unacceptable decision regarding Swiss Arms rifles,” he said Friday. “This decision was made by bureaucrats, not elected officials. I have therefore ordered an urgent review of this unfortunate situation. All options are on the table to ensure that no firearms owner who acted in good faith suffers any consequence as a result of this situation.”

Those are fighting words for gun owners' rights – and rest assured they come from from the top. As the reckless RCMP brass tries once again to wag the dog, Minister Blaney's people are working overtime to minimize the prohibition damage. Gun owners who do not support that effort unequivocally do themselves and their community as disservice. There is a good chance we will all eventually be grateful to the RCMP for playing dirty, because they have finally forced the federal government to become frustrated and actively involved in the gun classification game.

We know for a fact that the minister's staff is examining possible regulatory initiatives, compensation and many other avenues. Bill C-68 was created to facilitate exactly this kind of bureaucratic power play, so all the more reason to overhaul it entirely. In fairness, the CSSA is aware that many police officers – including some who serve with the RCMP – disagreed with the recent prohib classifications and suffer quiet embarrassment.

There is a canny and convenient solution. The CSSA has long advocated striking a firearms expert technical committee to determine classification. We recommend (again) a six-person committee of people with deep technical knowledge of firearms specs and history appointed by the public safety minister.

Some sport shooters fear the committee could be co-opted by a future anti-gun government and used against them. That is no reason to oppose the committee. Nothing will stop a future left-wing administration from banning whatever they want, with or without a committee of experts in place. Canadian sport shooters need the right people in charge of classifications who will look forward AND backward at the lists of restricted and prohibited guns. Gun owners need those lists examined in the full light of day.

All gun owners should advocate for this committee before a Liberal/NDP coalition tries to hang up all the guns that don't belong to the military and the police. Don't forget to mention it when you correspond with elected officials. It's our right.


There's an old political observation that suggests idealistic students vote NDP, empire-building young adults vote Liberal, and middle-age wisdom creates Conservatives.

The ludicrous motion hatched by Young Liberals of Canada to bring Australian-style gun bans to Canada reveals that idealism has trumped reality within their ranks. The tyrannical Australian firearms ban hasn't reduced gun crime Down Under or anywhere else in the world. Young Liberals, many of whom are steeped in post-secondary academia, should know at least something about analyzing statistical outcomes. Sadly, the Little Lefties who drafted the anti-gun motion for next weekend's Liberal Biennial Convention 2014 must have been out having a smoke when their class studied Research 101

The Aussies endured an even worse mass shooting than Canada when 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996. Australian politicians reacted in a similar fashion to their Canadian counterparts. They introduced cynical legislation to placate a demanding public. The new laws made no actual difference to public safety because they attacked the guns instead of potential perpetrators. Both Canada and Australia made the mistake of holding lawful gun owners to account for the actions of a few lunatics. The U.S. is going through a similar process in the wake of Sandy Hook. The anti-gun lobby too often deals with raw national mourning with disgust, anger, and poor judgment.

John Lott, U.S. gun crime expert, economist and author of More Guns, Less Crime, has posted a noteworthy 2010 politically-neutral study of the “success” of the Australian legislation. The paper entitled, The Australian Firearms Buyback and its Effect on Gun Deaths, concludes what all other gun-banning jurisdictions have learned – bans and buybacks do not enhance public safety.

“This paper takes a closer look at the effects of the NFA (the 1996-97 Australian National Firearms Agreement) on gun deaths,” the authors explain. “Using a battery of structural break tests, there is little evidence to suggest that it had any significant effects on firearm homicides and suicides. In addition, there also does not appear to be any substitution effects—that reduced access to firearms may have led those bent on committing homicide or suicide to use alternative methods. Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears, the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.”

See the entire paper at http://johnrlott.tripod.com/Australia_Gun_Buyback_EI.pdf

It's hard to imagine that Young Liberals are willing to use a legislative sledgehammer against two million Canadian gun owners when research clearly shows gun bans achieve nothing beyond criminalizing sport shooters. The conclusions of a politically neutral paper like The Australian Firearms Buyback and its Effect on Gun Deaths should be treated as pure gold by debaters on both sides of the argument.

What is probably most disconcerting about the Liberal motion is the source. Young Liberals want to play a role in Canadian politics and many aspire to be the leaders of tomorrow. Unfortunately, they hope to reclaim Liberal dominance by cooking legislation for an ill-informed populace anxious to stash its emotional baggage. Responsible gun owners can only hope that supporters of this motion grow bored with politics and take up golf instead. Are these people really so adept at running their own lives that they believe they should run ours?

Go forth, Young Liberals, and please do not multiply.

 

Documents obtained by the Coalition for Gun Control reveal the committee advising Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wants some prohibited weapons, including hand guns and assault rifles, reclassified to make them more easily available.

The 14-member group is also pushing to make firearm licences good for at least 10 years, rather than the current five — a measure opposed by police who say the five-year renewals are a chance to weed out unstable gun owners.

Coming on the anniversary of Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique massacre — in which 14 young women died at the hands of a deranged gunman — the documents provided opposition MPs with new ammunition to fire at a government that earlier this year repealed and destroyed the federal long-gun registry.

But even as gun enthusiasts cheered the proposed reforms Thursday on online message boards, Harper was pouring cold water on the committee in the House of Commons.

"Let me be as clear as I can be," the prime minister said in response to a question from NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

"Prohibited weapons exist as a category under the law for essential reasons of public security. The government has absolutely no intention of weakening that category of protections."

Harper stressed repeatedly that the recommendations contained in a March 2012 "memorandum for the minister" are not government policy.

And when interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae suggested the government's advisory committee — which is dominated by sport shooting enthusiasts and those opposed to gun control — needed wider representation, including from police chiefs, those fighting domestic violence and groups dealing with suicide prevention, Harper all but agreed.

"I will take the advice of the leader of the Liberal party under consideration," Harper responded.

"I'm obviously very concerned with some of the recommendations made in that report, and I think the committee does need some re-examination in that light."

The prime minister's comments will certainly be a come-down for gun enthusiasts who were cheering a Toronto Star report of the committee recommendations earlier Thursday.

"A shocking outbreak of common sense? What are they drinking in Ottawa these days?" said one poster on Outdoorsmenforum.ca.

"This is great!! I am so glad we have a government that has some common sense ... at least for now," wrote another.

Conservatives used the Liberal long-gun registry as a prime fundraising tool and rural electoral wedge issue for more than a decade. But now that the registry is gone, the government appears to be playing down further changes — at least for broad public consumption.

Two important developments this fall, the final destruction of all gun registry data outside Quebec and the further postponement of gun-marking regulations, were proactively announced by the government to the gun lobby but not to a national audience via the news media.

Toews' firearms advisory committee is co-chaired by Steve Torino, the president of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.

It includes prominent anti-registry advocates including Tony Bernardo, a self-described gun-rights champion with Torino's CSSA; Greg Farrant of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters; Linda Thom, an Olympic gold medallist in pistol shooting; and Niagara police constable John Gayder, an advocate who has written pieces such as "Is Modern Gun Control Hazardous to Police?" which posits that gun control "will prove to be as disastrously misguided as leech therapy, shock treatment and Thalidomide were to the field of medicine."

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has actively lobbied to be represented on the committee, without success.

"The CACP is very interested in being represented on this committee, as this would provide you with timely and balanced advice on firearms issues from the leading law enforcement organization in Canada," the association's president, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, wrote to Toews two weeks after the May 2011 election.

Rae emerged from the Commons to suggest the prime minister "has learned something from this experience."

"This is an area where frankly the public does not share the ideological enthusiasm of the Conservative back bench," Rae said.

"People are just not interested in increasing access to weapons. They're interested very much in reducing access to dangerous firearms."

Both Harper and Toews stressed the Conservative government's firearm focus is now on tougher sentences for gun-related convictions.

"We've made it very clear that we see no benefit to the long-gun registry," Toews told the Commons.

"However, what we have indicated is that we must continue to implement measures that in fact target the criminal use of firearms."

The Public Safety minister also noted that firearms crime rates are at their lowest in 50 years.

The homicide rate from guns is down 30 per cent since 2008, Toews added, "because of the very strong measures that this government has taken against the criminal use of firearms," drawing a huge round of applause and desk thumping from the Conservative benches.

 

Canada's submission at the UN arms trade treaty 2012/07/06

 

Mr. President:

 

Our gathering this month is an opportunity to develop what could be an important tool in global efforts to combat terrorism, organized crime and armed conflict. An effective Arms Trade Treaty would provide all of us with greater transparency and confidence that all efforts are being made to hinder the irresponsible trade in conventional weapons and the diversion of legitimately traded weapons for illicit uses.

 

Canada believes that at the heart of a future ATT will be the six criteria which would prohibit the transfer of weapons that: (1) breach UN Security Council sanctions; (2) contribute to serious violations of human rights; (3) contribute to serious violations of international humanitarian law; (4) provoke, prolong, or aggravate armed conflict; (5) support or facilitate terrorism; or (6) support or facilitate organized crime. 

 

While acting on the need to hinder the irresponsible trade in conventional arms and their diversion to illicit end users or end uses, it is also important that the ATT recognize the legitimacyof the legal and responsible international trade in conventional weapons and that it respects the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible private citizens for personal and recreational uses, such as sport shooting, hunting and collecting. Canada believes that it is important for these two conditions to be explicitly recognized in the Preamble of an ATT in order to focus and strengthen the Treaty by clarifying its intent.

 

To that end, Canada proposes that the following two paragraphs be included in the Preamble of an Arms Trade Treaty:

 

Recognizing that the purpose of the ATT is to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit and irresponsible transfer of conventional arms and their diversion into the illicit market, including for use in transnational organized crime and terrorism;

 

Noting that the ATT acknowledges and respects responsible and accountable trans-national use of firearms for recreational purposes, such as sport shooting, hunting and other similar forms of lawful activities, whose legitimacy is recognised by the State Parties.

 

 

The six key criteria outlined earlier, along with the categories of conventional weapons and international transactions, are the “what” of the Treaty. In order to apply these criteria, and achieve the ATT’s goals – the “how” of the Treaty – it is important that it recognizes and respects each State Party’s unique political culture and legal systems, as well as its specific administrative capacity. In this way each State Party can determine how best to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty within its own jurisdiction, based on its own unique circumstances. Canada believes that such national discretion in the application of each State Party’s obligations under the ATT will be a vital principle of the Treaty to ensure the flexibility and adaptability that will be necessary to achieve success in its application.

 

How then can State Parties be certain that a future ATT is being carried out and that other State Parties are fulfilling their obligations under the Treaty?  Here, Mr. President, Canada believes in the importance of transparency and reporting as a way to promote confidence amongst States Party to the Treaty that its terms and criteria are being carried out.

 

Mr. President, in your draft paper of 14 July, 2011, you proposed that each State Party should submit an annual report on its international arms transfer activities as well as information on any new legislation or other measures that have been taken to regulate the international transfer of arms within the Treaty’s domain. Canada believes that it  can be through such annual reporting that State Parties can both gain and give confidence that obligations under the Treaty to prevent the illicit or irresponsible trade in conventional arms are being fulfilled.

 

Should we determine during our discussions in the coming days that additional reporting is needed, we must take care to ensure that any such additional commitments are designed with a view to being practical and realistic.

 

In Canada’s view, detailed reporting about each and every transaction can, in certain circumstances, be both impractical and unrealistic. For example, for many large importing or exporting State Parties, who often transact thousands of transfers in any given year, it would be unrealistic to expect that they would be able to maintain or provide detailed information on each and every transaction, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of such transactions would overwhelm virtually any administrative system now in existence.

 

If we decide, during our forthcoming discussions, to institute some form of reporting on the level and nature of arms transfers undertaken by each State Party, due consideration must also be given to two limiting factors. First, concerns over national security could arise should the level of detail in the reporting of transfers become too prescriptive. However, we recognize that these very important concerns must be balanced with the transparency and confidence goals proposed in this treaty.  An Arms Trade Treaty must not impede the inherent right of all States to individual and collective self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, but does need to offer an effective tool to bring scrutiny to illicit transfers of conventional arms. 

 

Second, due consideration must be given to issues of corporate confidentiality and personal privacy. In keeping with our common wish not to interfere with the legal, responsible international trade in arms, the information that State Parties would provide under the ATT should not compromise the legally-protected information of private companies or the personal information of private individuals.

 

Finally, should it be determined that an administrative unit will be needed to support State Parties in implementing and administering a future Arms Trade Treaty, Canada believes that such a unit should be minimal, small, and flexible and should be funded out of existing UN budgets. It should therefore be created out of existing UN resources and housed within existing UN institutions, withno additional financial commitments accruing to UN Member States. In this time of difficult financial constraints faced by many Member States, we should try to avoid, as much as possible,creating any new bureaucracies or taking on any new financial commitments.

 

Mr. President:

 

We are faced with a daunting task in the coming days. However, Canada believes that the goal of creating a global instrument to impede the illicit flow of arms to criminals, terrorists and human rights abusers is an important and timely one that, with good will and a common sense of purpose, we can attain.

 

Canada stresses the importance of the principle of national discretion and that the ATT should recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting and collecting. We stress that this should in no way result in any new burdens being placed on lawful firearms owners.

 

Thank you.

NB: This is a very plausible presentation by our Government.

 

Presentation by Tony Bernardo to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Arms Trade Treaty

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on a matter of such great concern for two million Canadians. My name is Tony Bernardo and I am acting executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association. I have been an executive member of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities since 1997 and have been attending and working at the United Nations since 1998 regarding civilian firearms issues. I have addressed the United Nations assembly four times.

As an association, The CSSA has no objection to the concept of a treaty on conventional weapons. Our concerns relate to the firearms that ordinary Canadians use every day. It is no secret that Canada has one of the most stringent set of controls on the ownership and use of firearms in the world. Bluntly put, we don't need any more.

And neither does the United Nations. Not if they are actually trying to do something. The civilian firearms issue is a very important topic to many nations. Moreover, some nations have constitutional protection regarding civilian firearms ownership, protections that prohibit their involvement in any initiative that might undermine those constitutional protections. The issue of civilian firearms is, truthfully, a no-win that should be avoided at all costs if there is to be any hope of a functional treaty.

However, in my conversations with members of delegations from countries less developed than Canada, I am told that civilian firearms are almost never a problem. Most people understand the real issue is the proliferation of exclusively military weapons being illegally sold by countries with less than scrupulous motives. Have there been deaths? Yes, or course, but perhaps not as you might think. 56 million defenceless people have died in genocides in the last 100 years, almost all of them murdered by their own governments.

The inclusion of civilian firearms, called "small arms" at the UN, into the former Firearms Protocol, vitually caused the collapse of the entire UN process and left that project in a state of utter failure. In fact, one of the few things that ever came from the Firearms Protocol were the Canadian Firearms Marking Regulations, an unmitigated disaster at best. For those that are unfamiliar with the Marking regulations, permit me a brief explanation.

The UN marking regulations were passed into law in 2004 and as is typical of those days, Firearms importers were never consulted prior to the regulations being introduced. The Chretien, Martin and Harper governments have successively delayed the implementation since then. Why is an obvious question?

Members of the Canadian firearms industry conducted an exhaustive study and concluded the marking requirement was impossible to comply with. An international study reached the same conclusion. Participants in this representBrowning, Remington, Beretta, Sako, Savage Arms, Tikka, Uberti, Norinco, Ruger, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, and several others. These respectable and reputable companies flatly stated that if this was implemented in Canada, they would simply close their Canadian operations, devastating a legitimate billion dollar industry and putting thousands of Canadians on the unemployment rolls.

These are the consequences of domestic legislation being developed by international forums with little or no understanding of the ramifications of their undertakings. An initiative, started to theoretically ease violence in the world desperate regions, instead causes unemployment and financial hardship in peace-loving Canada.

We have been assured that the position of the Canadian government is that civilian firearms must not be included within the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty and indeed, the language of the pre-amble makes clear the government of Canada's intention to have civilian firearms regulated domestically, not internationally. Our support for the treaty process and the government of Canada's participation in this process, remains contingent upon this stated intention being upheld at all levels. Civilian firearms must be regulated donestically, taking into consideration political, constitutional and social factors inherent in each nation's makeup. In this instance, the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work at all.

In other words, members of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association are saying that there is no good use for overriding one nation's rules based on the demands and needs of another UN state's requirements being applied to all other states, without regard for each parties' national jurisdiction and legislation. Again, national discretion and jurisdiction should and must prevail. The rules for civilian possession of small arms in one country do not necessarily make sense, nor are they useful in another country.

It must also be stated that we have seen no evidence that this position has changed in any way and we strongly encourage the government to stay the course and protect the rights of Canadian citizens first before attempting to agree with having an international body regulate what is completely within the purview of Canadian national discretion and jurisdiction.

Article two of the UN Charter specifically states that "there is nothing in the charter "authorizing the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state"

Having one set of rules for the use of such items in all countries would be most counterproductive, and presumably unacceptable to the UN principle of national discretion and jurisdiction.

2012/06/11

Thanks  Tony for an excellent presentation, every law abiding Canadian firearm owner is very proud and grateful having you among us.

Allman A Vieira

 

Canada modifies position on UN Small Arms Treaty

Canada has modified its controversial position on a United Nations arms control treaty.In a new position paper submitted to the UN, the federal government has dropped its proposal to exclude all sporting and hunting firearms from the international Arms Trade Treaty, an agreement that seeks to regulate the import, export and transfer of all conventional weapons.

Last summer Canada surprised many and attracted heaps of scorn from countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and Australia, when it changed its stance on the treaty and advocated for the exclusion of so-called "civilian" firearms.

In particular, the Mexicans said that in their experience, a great number of arms confiscated from its notorious gangs are sporting and hunting firearms that have been modified and transformed into assault weapons.

Some non-governmental observers predicted Canada's new position could have helped derail the entire process.

The proposal to exclude those weapons is absent from Canada's new position paper, submitted to the UN last month.

Instead, Canada recommends changes to the treaty's preamble to underline that the agreement "acknowledges and respects responsible and accountable trans-national use of firearms for recreational purposes, such as sport shooting, hunting and other forms of similar lawful activities, whose legitimacy is recognized by the States Parties."

Change welcomed

Project Ploughshares, which was among the non-governmental organizations that registered its opposition to the exclusion of hunting and sports firearms from the ATT, said it welcomed the changes, calling it a compromise.

"We're pleased to see that Canada has toned down its call for exemptions on certain classes of firearms and is now calling for preamble language in the treaty that would recognize legitimate uses of firearms," said Ken Epps, a senior program officers with the group. Epps said the new document is helpful.

"In fact it will help to clarify that the treaty is not about domestic gun ownership or use or even transfers of firearms within states like Canada."

Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, is also pleased with the changes.

"We would support this version of the Arms Trade Treaty document from Canada as it empowers independent nations to set their own discretionary policies regarding civilian-owned firearms within their borders."

Bernardo said his take on the preamble is that Canada does not want "civilian" firearms included within the scope of the treaty.

In its position paper, Canada says it supports the inclusion of small arms, light weapons and ammunition within the ATT, "in keeping with the principle of national discretion."

Epps said he feels that section needs tightening up, "because national discretion could be another term for states deciding whether or not to implement the treaty and that shouldn't be up for different interpretations."

Jul 11, 2011 – 1:22 PM ET | Last Updated: Jul 11, 2011 1:40 PM

Should the federal Tories scrap the unpopular long-gun registry — as they are expected to do shortly — Quebec might do more than simply protest. Provincial Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil has told reporters that the province is considering what he called “Plan B”: the creation of a provincial long-gun registry that would continue to register and track the movements of hunting rifles and shotguns in Quebec. “We think we have good arguments for keeping the long-gun registry,” Mr. Dutil said, citing the registry’s utility in reducing crimes, and suicides, and its value as a law-enforcement tool that is frequently used by police.

Such arguments have become familiar to the gun-control debate, and have been discredited. Yes, crime has fallen during the time the registry has been operative, but the decline began long ago, making a causal link unlikely. And suicides by firearm have declined, true, but suicides have not, meaning the registry has simply pushed those seeking death towards high ledges, ropes and pills — hardly a public safety victory. And the main law enforcement value of our gun controls lays in the licensing system, not the error-riddled registry. Police would continue to have access to the licensing information.

But Quebec’s musings about a provincial long-gun registry, however misguided, may be blocked not by reason or logic, but by an 11-year-old Supreme Court decision: Reference re Firearms Act, [2000]. In 2000, the Court heard arguments brought forward by the province of Alberta (with several other provinces supporting their position) that the gun registry was unconstitutional, as it dealt with the licensing and registration of privately held property — a provincial responsibility.

In an unanimous decision, the Court rejected Alberta’s claim, ruling that firearms were not simply private property, but also constituted possible threats to public safety. The Court’s position on the issue was not as alarmist as that might suggest, as they conceded that firearms can provide benefits to society when used responsibly. But the Court did state that their intended purpose and destructive potential did set them apart from other forms of private property, and made the control of firearms an issue of public safety and criminal law and therefore under federal jurisdiction. The registration of firearms, the Court found, was emphatically different from registering vehicle or land titles, and that’s what made it not only subject to federal legislation, but enabled criminal sanctions for those who violated the Firearms Act.

This leaves Quebec in something of a quandary. If the Harper-led Conservative majority government does indeed scrap the long-gun registry, as they have promised and everyone expects them to do, Quebec will have three options, none of them particularly appealing. It can protest and bluster and fume and ultimately do nothing. It can attempt to establish its own long-gun registry as a matter of public safety (as Mr. Dutil’s rhetoric suggests it would seek to do), but then it would have to find a way to work around the fact that the Court has already found that public safety and firearms control fall within federal jurisdiction. Or it could use what provincial powers it has at its disposal to create a purely regulatory framework for the registration of firearms in Quebec, treating the firearms as simple property and not as threats to public safety.

The latter option might be their best legal bet, as the province would have the authority to do that and it would not risk running afoul of the Court’s existing ruling on the issue. But it would be a singularly unappealing measure to sell to the people. Since the Quebec long-gun registry would not be a matter of criminal law, violators would not be subject to criminal prosecution. The worst Quebec could do would be to levy fines or threaten confiscation of the firearms, assuming the provincial act allowed for the search and seizure for private property (which itself would likely be subject to a Charter challenge). These practical concerns aside, the politics of such an attempt would be deadly: Those in favour of gun control would object to the toothless response to an issue of public safety, while lawful firearms owners and their supporters would decry the transparent attempt to restrict and punish firearms ownership outside of the Criminal Code.

Faced with the essentially inevitable end of the federal long-gun registry, and the lack of convincing evidence that it was ever of much if any law-enforcement value, Quebec would be better off accepting that Canada’s experiment with the registration of long-guns is over. If the provincial government insists instead in pushing ahead with the fiction of preserving public safety through weak legislation written purely for the political optics, they should not be surprised to find that their effort pleases few and angers many.

National Post

Presentation by Dr. Gary Mauser

Gary Mauser, Ph D
Professor Emeritus
Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies
Faculty of Business Administration
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby BC, CANADA
www.garymauser.net
 

To: Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Re: Bill C-391 - Countering Ten Misleading Claims 

Executive summary

Bill C-391 is a simple and straightforward bill that proposes to dismantle the long-gun registry for non-restricted long guns, nothing more.  Bill C-391 leaves in place the rest of Canada's gun control regime, including the requirement to obtain a licence, the screening of applicants, the requirement to register restricted and prohibited long guns, the need to take and pass the firearms safety course, and the rules on safe storage and transportation of firearms.

The evidence demonstrates that the repeal of the long-gun registry will not reduce public safety in Canada and may even improve it. After a brief review of the arguments, I examine and rebut the key points in the Coalition's letter sent to MPs on October 20, 2009.

The statistics provided here clearly shows that the long-gun registry has not been effective in reducing criminal violence and most especially that it has not saved lives. The multiple murders by shooting that have occurred since the registry was put in place prove that it is a waste of time and money.

Bill C-391 deserves support because the long-gun registry has failed to protect Canadians from gun violence and diverts vital police resources away from more effective efforts. In her report to Parliament, the Auditor General of Canada found that the long-gun registry cost taxpayers at least one billion dollars; later research doubled this estimate. She also noted that the Department had been unable to substantiate whether the long-gun registry had increased public safety or saved lives, which is surely the standard by which any success of the program should be measured.

Every one of the claims made by Ms Cukier made in her October letter to oppose bill C-391 is false or misleading. 

In response to the misleading claims made by the Coalition for Gun Control, please consider the following information:

Claim #1: Access to a gun increases the risk of murder.

False: Canadian gun owners are less likely than other Canadians to commit homicide.

Claim #2: Rifles and shotguns are the weapons most likely to be used in domestic homicides.

False: The problem is the murder of family members, not the means of killing. Rifles and shotguns are not the weapons most likely to be used in domestic homicides. Knives are.

Claim #3: Spousal murders with guns have fallen threefold since the law passed, while spousal murders without guns have remained the same.

False: Spousal murders (with and without guns) have slowly been declining since the mid-1970s. There is no empirical support for the claim that the long-gun registry has reduced spousal murders. The long-gun registry was not begun until 2001.

Claim #4: Stronger gun laws have helped reduce gun violence.

False:  Ms Cukier's letter begs the question of the effectiveness of gun laws against crime. She is deliberately confuses the date the long-gun registry began with the date the legislation received royal assent.

The rate of homicides committed with a firearm generally declined from the mid-1970s to 2002. This steady, long-term decline has been driven by economic and demographic changes.  However, the use of firearms in homicide has increased since 2002.

Claim #5: Firearms stolen from legal owners are a significant source of crime guns. Registration is essential to prevent dangerous individuals from getting guns.

False: All studies of crime guns (or guns used in murders) agree that stolen registered firearms are infrequently involved.

It is the criminal record check, which is part of licensing, and certainly not registration, that stops criminals from getting guns legally. Bill C-391 will not change the current provisions for obtaining a firearms licence. Registration simply refers to the firearm, not the owner.

Claim #6: Firearms pose more problems in smaller cities where there are more gun owners.

False: Homicide is a particularly acute problem in large cities where ironically there are fewer legal gun owners.

Claim #7: The registry is an essential tool for police when taking preventative action and when enforcing prohibition orders to remove firearms from dangerous individuals.

False: The long-gun registry does not contain information on a gun's location. The registry only contains descriptive information about the registered guns.

Rank and file police members do not find the registry useful. In approaching dangerous situations, the police must assume there is a weapon.

Claim #8: The gun registry is consulted by police 10,000 times a day and provides important information.

False: Almost all of the "inquiries" are routinely generated by traffic stops or firearm sales and are not specifically requested; nor do police often find them useful. Almost all of these inquiries involve licensing, not the long-gun registry.

Claim #9: Polls show Canadians believe the gun registry should not be dismantled.

False: Two recent polls show that the public does not support the long-gun registry. This is consistent with at least 11 earlier polls, all of which have clearly demonstrated that the Canadian public has no faith in the long-gun registry or its ability to increase public safety.

Claim #10: Stronger gun laws have helped reduce gun-related death, injury, violence and suicide.

False. No properly designed study has been able to show that gun laws have been responsible for reducing criminal violence rates or suicide rates in any country in the world.

More police officers and better technologies are more effective routes to improving public safety.

In sum, the test of any governmental program should be whether it meets its goals. In this case, the long-gun registry has failed.  It has failed to save lives. It has failed to reduce murder, suicide or aggravated assault rates. The long-gun registry continues to cost Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars each year. This money could be better spent on other more useful law enforcement measures, or be directed towards a number of other key priorities for Canadians such as health care. 

Gary Mauser, Ph D
Professor Emeritus
Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies
Faculty of Business Administration
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby BC, CANADA
www.garymauser.net

D

espite the fact that gun control proponents are busy clamoring for positions in office they seem to forget that gun control has been tried and tested in a number of countries without achieving their goal: the reduction of crime:  Look at the United Kingdom, since 1997 all handguns were removed from civilian ownership, today, the most recent figures indicated that gun crimes have increased 600%. In addition criminals are stealing legally owned long guns to use in commission of crimes.

Maybe Jackie Smith is currently contemplating the confiscation of long guns from the law abiding so that the criminals have nothing to steal: Wishfully believing that gun crime will decrease.

The United Kingdom has the highest rate of gun crime in Western Europe with Scotland being one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in. Surprisingly, Dublin Ireland is the gun murder capital of Europe.

The Home Secretary has proposed arming regular Bobbies on patrol in an effort to curtail the escalating use of firearms.

One need only to reflect on a few years ago when pointed and kitchen knives were ordered off store shelves, recent suggestions are to have drinking glasses and drinking mugs in pubs be made of a less lethal material, in addition the police were given additional powers to stop and search anyone at anytime. They were accused of racial profiling while performing their additional duties.

The Caribbean is another good example, similarly Australia and New Zealand. Presently Trinidad has the title of the kidnap capital of the world. Recent figures indicate that this small country has recorded in excess of five hundred murders to date, this tally continues to climb.

Canada has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the world. The long gun registry introduced in 1995 by the then Liberal government has not and will never serve the purpose it was intended for, that is reducing gun crimes.

It has been a waste of tax payers’ money, police officers and law abiding citizens have been killed unnecessarily even though the Registry was in place. Recently Bill C391 tabled in Parliament as a private members bill has received support by members of the opposition parties to scrap it.

The Toronto police chief has mentioned that the scrapping of the bill is a disaster, that it put officers at risk, what the chief should have realized is the bill would not jeopardize the police ability to search for firearms in households, the Federal Government maintains two data bases, one for the firearms in ownership and the other for the licensed firearms owners.

Police agencies across Canada will still have this functional data base at their disposal. Maybe the chief should inform the public accordingly and appropriately.

The fact remains that criminals are not law abiding citizens, these individuals have no regard for lives irrespective of age or gender. They will continue to do what they do best, take advantage of the weak and the defenseless.

Governments world wide have not been able to adequately address some of the main components of gun crime:  prostitution, drugs, illegal guns and poverty just to mention a few.

Everyone should remember that police organizations do not prevent crimes, they more often investigate them, this leaves the law abiding citizens around the world unprotected and at the mercy of criminals. In addition justice systems contribute to this on going problem.

Unless individuals in office are prepared to step down from their pedestals and examine the real problem and make proper assessments, until then the chaos will continue and criminals will rein supreme.

Remember there is no place in society for criminals or law breakers, they automatically become undesirables in communities, and they should be put away indefinitely.

AAV.

Canada's chiefs of police are either out to lunch or living on Mars.

Neither is reassuring.

But what's worse, based on a letter penned yesterday by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, they may be out to lunch while living on Mars.

As MPs in Ottawa voted 164 to 137 yesterday to can the decades-old scandalous boondoggle that is the long gun registry once-and-for-all, Blair repeated his association's misguided -- or worse, misleading -- plea to save it.

But the registry isn't dead yet.

The bill still needs to pass a third vote and get final Senate approval.

As the registry trundles closer to the brink, Blair yesterday wrote, "we lose it (the long gun registry) at our peril," adding losing the registry, "is a serious threat to public safety."

Without the long gun registry, I assume from Blair's writings, every man, woman, and child would be in danger from bloodthirsty legal firearm owners who are currently only restrained from unleashing their apocalyptic rampage because of bureaucratic paper shuffling in Mirimachi, N.B.

Blair's letter also says not having rifles and shotguns registered "will make Canada less safe."

Let us count the (misleading) ways:

According to the chiefs, "the registry ensures we are able to check for the presence of firearms."

That's not entirely true because neither the long gun registry nor the 70-year-old handgun registry tell police where to find illegal guns, which are probably the most dangerous type.

Whether or not the omniscient registry says there are legal guns in a home, it still behooves officers to treat every situation with the utmost caution and care.

They can't, and don't, leave their sidearm in the cruiser if the registry says it's OK because they have no idea if there are illegal guns in the home.

Knowing whether there are legal guns around should not alter their approach to a domestic dispute, or any other situation for that matter.

And, even if law enforcement agencies insist on checking a registry for the presence of guns in a home, they could always check the firearm owner registry.

That's right. Since 1977, legal gun owners in Canada must have a licence and be approved to own firearms by the RCMP. Gun lobbyists have never contested that, or the handgun registry.

Take away the long gun registry, and legal firearm owners will still need to be approved for ownership by the RCMP, and handguns will still be registered.

If a home owner has a firearms licence, officers could naturally assume there are guns in the home. Public safety isn't increased if police know whether the legal gun owner's shotgun is a Remington or a Winchester.

But always the pragmatist, I have a proposal for the police chiefs.

If the long gun registry is so vital to public safety, I propose Canada's police chiefs pay for it out of their own budgets.

It's one thing to support an initiative like the long gun registry if it's free.

Since it costs up to $5 million a year to run the registry, the Toronto Police's per capita share would be $400,000 (based on 16 cents per person).

I wonder if Blair, whose department is already facing a 10% budget cut over the next two years, is prepared to fire four cops to pay his share of the registry.

My guess is four Toronto police officers are far more vital to Toronto's public safety than the long gun registry.

Scrapping the registry won't make Canada "less safe," but if we don't get our police chiefs to return back to Earth, we could all be in serious trouble.

-- Weese is a Toronto Sun reporter

BRYN.WEESE@SUNMEDIA.CA

Should Canadian gun registration be repealed entirely? By John Longenecker, CFP

The recent comments about Canadian gun registration have been on topic and illuminating. It shows how a people will find their way come what may, and where self-rule is the way of life, enforcing freedom over the powers of the state means growth on so many levels - whoever the state may be.

When you look to homicides as a measure of whether gun control is working or not, you see only half of the picture. The real parameter to examine is the crimes that did not happen, and you can look to the U.S. for this where people are armed and where the fears of the anti-gun have never materialized, including violence, or the loss of real tools for tracing of crime.

In America, more than 300 million guns are in the hands of some 90 million citizens. Our FBI furnishes data turned in to them by law enforcement around the country on who stops a crime in progress and turns in a report to police. Here, we may have around 14,144 homicides by guns in crimes in 2008, for example, but we also show more than 2.5 million non-crimes every year. That is to say, violent acts interrupted and de-escalated by an armed citizen (and subsequently turned in to law enforcement for assembling their reports). Experts believe there are many rural areas where such de-escalations occur more than once a year, are uncounted and not reported.

It’s what you don’t see that tells the story on how silly regulation of guns really is and how counter productive it is when the subject is personal safety and safety of a community. Gun control is counter productive also in terms of costs and how those revenues (billions) can be directed to more returns on investment than vexing the honest has been. Gun control does not work, because that is not where crime and violence are fought. Gun control is one locus for a transfer of wealth.

Many nations utilize crime as a reason to disarm their own citizenry and loot nations. For those nation states, the cruelty or freedom in governance becomes definitionally only a matter of degree between, say, England and parts of Asia. In England, we see gun bans since 1997 and a horrific rise in violent crime in this void, along with documentation of an ever-increasing punishment for resistance, even with what unarmed citizens have been left with; sticks and pen knives. In other countries, we see wholesale, official murder of disarmed persons, with media coverage of the killings portrayed as an ongoing civil war.

Gun confiscations have always preceded such ’civil wars’ and the murders in them, and registration has always preceded confiscations. There are no exceptions. It is as much a gateway to murder and looting by the state as marijuana is a gateway to Heroin. It is only that various states are in various stages of progression.

No government needs to know where the guns of its people are. Registration indicates that the state fears the people, but fears what, exactly? This is not the trouble it might seem: it is right that a government fear its people, not out of apprehension that the people are unreasonable and volatile, but that the government stay in line as itself reasonable and not govern by outrage.

The only justification for knowing where the guns are is in the mind of officials whose intentions are soon to be incompatible with public interest, public service, and the reason for even having a government at all. Who, then, has whom?

The ascendancy of the state is on insistence and not service, insistence backed by official force, with powerlessness of the very people a government claims to serve. True service will operate with consent of the governed, and leave it at that. No outrages. And who gets to decide what is outrageous? The people, of course. Anything otherwise, and the servants have ceased to serve.

There is no problem anywhere in the world which cannot be solved better in liberty than anything so outrageous as the insistences of a state. What becomes a problem for the state is not necessarily a problem for the citizenry of a free people, but an asset: independence. In fact, freedom of the people is for some states a problem itself. Regulating how much authority the people actually have over servants is one of the earliest indicators of a coming outrage of governance. Obeisance of the state to the people is the most promising indicator of Peace in a free nation.

Gun registration and knowing where the guns are is a threat to the freedom of the people who hire, fund, and instruct their public servants. Registration is to go outside these and defy the people. It is to forget who serves whom.

Firearms owners privacy violated.

On behalf of the membership of B.C. Wildlife Federation, I would like to express thanks to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan for his quick actions to put a stop to the RCMP initiative to hire EKOS Research to poll firearms owners.

Firearm owners have been forced to register their firearms with the Canadian Firearms Center and therefore to share their private information. As the administrator of the program since May 2006, the RCMP has had access to all this information. Previously, such information was only shared when an inquiry was made of the database.

Admittedly, because of the way the software was designed, any police contact at all was enough to qualify for an automated check of the Registry.

A citizen might not even own a firearm but may still be checked through the registry for a myriad of other reasons. When someone reports a car accident, or a vicious dog attack, or even if a police officer had entered their car’s license plate into their computer - these would all initiate a check. However, the information was supposed to stay confidential within law enforcement circles.

In fact the Canadian Firearms Center’s privacy section of their website clearly states: "Relevant Firearms Program information is disclosed only to federal and provincial public safety business partners that have legal authority to collect this information consistent with their public safety responsibilities. Program business partners include local and provincial police, the Canada Border Services Agency and International Trade Canada.

The Privacy Act requires that those agencies must have a use consistent with the purpose for which the information was collected. In turn, those non-federal agencies to which firearms information is disclosed are bound by similar requirements under their jurisdictional privacy laws.

Furthermore, firearms information is not shared with any private sector agencies. Some private companies, however, can have access to personal information while under a contracted arrangement for software administration or records management procedures.

Continued on page 5

Continued from page 4

Under the terms of those contracts, these companies cannot use or disclose information. Also, employees of private companies are thoroughly screened for security clearance to ensure that personal information is protected at the same level as federal requirements.

It is unconscionable that the RCMP decided to spend $80,000.and violate “client” privacy by sharing confidential information with a private firm to poll owners as to their satisfaction with the Firearms Registry.

Firearms owners were first ordered, under penalty of imprisonment, to acquire a license to possess their legally acquired property, and then to register it with the government. However, they now have decided to poll us to see if we are happy with the terms of our yoke.

Those who obey the law should not be subject to this sort of mistreatment by those who have been hired to protect us. Not only have the RCMP failed to protect law abiding firearm owners, but also they have actually exposed them to greater risk. There is a certain security in anonymity. Firearms have a considerable value, especially on the ‘black market’. Criminals will pay handsomely for a list of where they are located.

For putting an end to this travesty and calling for an inquiry by the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner into how it happened and who is responsible for such a poor decision, the membership of the B.C. Wildlife Federation thanks you, Minister Van Loan.

Michael Fowler, firearms committee chair

B.C. Wildlife Federation

Toronto police off target
Toronto's Safe City campaign should be targeting criminals

Despite clear evidence that targeting law-abiding gun owners for registration or licensing paperwork violations does nothing to stem violent crime, Toronto police are currently going door to door looking for lapsed firearms license holders, in a self-professed bid to make their city safer. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.), the largest nonprofit conservation based angling and hunting organization in Ontario, condemns this 'make work' project as yet another example of law enforcement aiming at the wrong target in an attempt to address the very real problem of violent gun crime.

"It is more than a little ironic that Toronto police are carrying out this activity under the guise of their 'Safe City Project.' Instead of working to stem the tide of illegal firearms that are smuggled into Canada and sold on the streets of Toronto and other major urban centres, police are knocking on the doors of law-abiding citizens, in the hopes of finding a legally owned firearm with a lapsed registration," said Greg Farrant, O.F.A.H. Manager of Government Relations & Communications. "In the process, they are claiming to have tracked down 400 firearms that in their words 'could have fallen into the hands of criminals.' Unless they have developed the ability to predict the future, this leap in logic in truly breathtaking. To suggest that a lapse in paperwork is one step removed from the firearm ending up on the streets defies all logic. There are far more productive ways to spend enforcement dollars, such as tracking those individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms, and working with all levels of government to halt the flow of illegal firearms coming into Canada, firearms that are being used to commit crimes in our communities."

In 1995, the amended federal Firearms Act made it mandatory for every long gun (shotgun or rifle) in the country to be registered. Despite assurances that public safety would be well served by the creation of the $2 billion dollar 'investment' in the long gun registry, the Auditor General of Canada stated in her reports to Parliament in 2002 and 2006, that the department had not been able to demonstrate that the system had enhanced the public safety or had saved lives.

"The Canadian Firearms Centre (C.F.C.) is responsible for notifying firearms owners about renewal of their licenses, but despite their efforts to remain in compliance, thousands of legal, law-abiding firearms owners have failed to receive these notifications or have had their paperwork disappear into some bureaucratic black hole. Given the inherent flaws in the system, well publicized computer failures, repeated violations of privacy, and massive cost overruns, the Justice department has admitted that the program has become overly complex, costly to deliver and difficult for firearms owners to comply. All Canadians, not just hunters, sport shooters and farmers, should be alarmed by Canada's colossal failure to protect us from violent offenders. This latest futile campaign in Toronto has firearms owners across the country shaking their heads in frustration," added Farrant.

If found to be in non-compliance with the registration and licensing requirements, firearms owners are provided with an opportunity to come into compliance, but the firearms are removed from their possession until the process is complete. The targeting of legal firearms owners and claims that such actions are resulting in a reduced threat to public safety lacks credibility, and diverts attention away from the fact that the registration system is badly flawed, does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining illegal firearms and is nothing more than a glorified public relations exercise, which ignores the real problem and threat to the public.

With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 660 member clubs, the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario, and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org.

 

Polls show public support for abolition of registry
Majority of Canadians agree with Prime Minister that the long-gun registry must go

On March 23, 2009, a Toronto Sun online poll asked, "Do you support Prime Minister Stephen Harper's call to scrap the long-gun registry?" An overwhelming majority, 84 percent, supported scrapping the registry. A survey by Toronto-based CP24 the same day, asked, "Do you think the Government should scrap the Federal long gun registry?" Fully 66 percent responded that the registry should be scrapped, or that it was a bad idea from the outset. Polls run by The Globe & Mail, CTV News, Ipsos-Reid and others dating back to 2002, have repeatedly demonstrated that Canadians believe that the registry is ineffective and should be abolished.

O.F.A.H. Executive Director, Mike Reader noted that the latest results are especially telling, given that they were conducted in Toronto, the largest urban centre in the country. "The outdoors community knew from the outset that the long gun registry would not be effective in preventing crime, because it targets licensed, law-abiding citizens who use legal firearms for hunting or recreational sport shooting instead of targeting criminals who use illegal handguns to commit crimes in our communities. Canadian taxpayers are fed up with paying for the registry that never has, and never will, reduce crime or increase public safety."

The O.F.A.H. is one of many organizations across the country that has fought the long-gun registry from the beginning. In the decade that the registry has been in place, it has been poorly managed, with cost overruns verging on two billion dollars. It has been subject to repeated privacy violations and has done nothing to reduce violent crime. Two reports by the Auditor General of Canada have called into question the effectiveness of the registry, and soundly criticized government overspending on a program that was supposed to cost no more than $20 million.

With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 655 member clubs, the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario, and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org.

  • Myth: The firearms program and the long gun registry will protect public safety.
  • Fact: In her report, the Auditor General of Canada pointed out that no authoritative study has been done, more than a decade after its launch that shows any impact on gun statistics stemming from the long gun registry.
  • Myth: The firearm's registry prevents tragedies such as happened at Dawson College.
  • Fact: The registry did not prevent the shooting at Dawson College, nor can it prevent any other random act of violence.
  • Myth: The current firearms system prevents individuals who should not possess firearms from gaining access to them.
  • Fact: The system does nothing to prevent those convicted of violent crimes from obtaining firearms, nor does it provide for supervision of these individuals. They are not even required to report a change of address to police.

Gun owner battles bureaucracy 

Firearms: Fight with national registry goes to court

A court fight with the Canadian Firearms Centre isn't likely to bring a satisfactory end to the long bureaucratic nightmare for a Nanaimo man.

It began in September 2007 when Rick Kroeker, a longtime gun-owner, tried to register five firearms. After he got what he claims was bad advice from a staff member, he discovered that two of his guns became illegal.

He argued with the centre, consulted with lawyers and then went to provincial court.

Kroeker, the manager of occupational health and safety for the City of Nanaimo, knew that understanding the registration requirements of the Canadian Firearms Centre may be a challenge, so he has had tried to follow the progressively arcane rules and regulations.

He believes he has been treated unfairly and is being punished even though he has committed no crime, there has been no infraction of firearms legislation and there was no complaint against.

Because the two guns are now illegal, the CFC has told him he cannot keep them. And after a year arguing against the ruling, Kroeker has come to one conclusion about prohibited guns in Canada.

"The government wants to wrest them out of anybody's hands at any cost."

After trying to argue with the CFC, Kroeker fell into a deep bureaucratic black hole.

He knew that CFC bureaucracy was convoluted and looking at the "garbled" information on its website in September 2007, he decided to call the centre for help in navigating the registration process. The information is available, he said, "but it doesn't explain what it means to you."

After several hours on the phone with a helpful staff member in New Brunswick, Kroeker thought he had registered everything correctly.

He later got certificates for three of his guns in the mail, and assumed the other two were grandfathered as being legally restricted, previously prohibited, firearms. But he soon learned that by filling in the wrong form, on advice of the worker at the firearms centre, he had in fact failed to maintain the two as legal.

When, why and how the law changed to make two guns in question illegal in Kroeker's circumstances is hard to say. He said it's been impossible for gun owners to keep up with the growing and changing body of legislation.

"It had changed and kept changing, but nobody knows," he said.

Kroeker represented himself in provincial court in January 2008 where he sought a court order that would restore his right to legally own the two guns. Judge Justine Saunders became increasingly concerned when she realized that what brought Kroeker to court was nothing but filling out a wrong document.

And Kroeker is shocked that the CFC continues to go to the expense of hiring a Department of Justice lawyer as it seeks to grab his guns, even though he made an innocent error on their advice. A person from the CFC was at one point going to fly from New Brunswick to Nanaimo for one of Kroeker's hearings.

"As a taxpayer I say, 'Wait a minute.' As a citizen, it makes me want to jump up and down."

Saunders has also expressed concern and confusion about the case. At one hearing she noted that even though the CFC would have considered the two guns in question illegal, Kroeker nevertheless was granted permits to transport them. She has also said she has found it very difficult to navigate the gun legislation.

In court on Feb. 10 Saunders said her concern is that due process is followed and said firearm legislation wasn't making that easy.

While a final decision remains to be made, Saunders has indicated she can't order the CFC to restore Kroeker's rights to the two guns.

Kroeker is considering an appeal.

"The only way to launch an appeal is to find someone who will take it on (for free), because it's a Charter challenge," he said. "On principle, I'm prepared to fight as long as I can."

The next hearing is in March.

PWalton@nanaimodailynews.com

My question is: Where are the gun lobby groups? AAV.  

Police Chief: Handguns far too easily available
Posted: November 05, 2008, 3:13 PM by Melissa Leong

Toronto Police Chief William Blair released this statement today regarding gun violence in the city and the force's Pixels for Pistols gun amnesty program: Violence in our city, in particular the criminal use of firearms, remains a serious concern for all Toronto's citizens and the Toronto Police Service.

Statement as follows:

One of the greatest challenges we face is the far-too-easy availability of handguns and other firearms.

The source of these crime guns is the subject of considerable debate, but these are the facts. They are based on an actual count of crime handguns we have seized in Toronto. We trace every crime handgun we seize. We know that approximately 70% are smuggled into Canada, primarily from the United States. We are working closely with all of our law enforcement partners in Canada and the U.S. to interdict the supply of guns coming into our country illegally. Sadly, 30% of the crime handguns we seize have either been stolen or otherwise obtained from legal gun owners in Canada.

Legal gun owners are law-abiding people, but their weapons can become very dangerous when they fall into the hands of violent criminals.

Every legal gun owner has both a statutory and moral responsibility to keep their weapons secure against theft or misuse. Safe storage of firearms is not merely a good idea, it is the law. I urge those who have legally obtained firearms to take every possible step to ensure their weapons are stored safely and secured against theft.

Criminals have targeted legitimate gun owners to obtain weapons, so be discreet about gun ownership and their location. We also know many people have firearms they no longer want. They may have obtained them years ago, or inherited them from a parent, and do not know what to do with them. They may be concerned because the weapons are not registered properly and they fear they could get into trouble if they try to turn them over to the police for disposal.

We also know some people may be uncertain on how to dispose of unwanted firearms safely. Others, aware that the weapon may have some value, are reluctant to part with it, even though they have no practical use. They cannot sell the weapon but would like something of value in return.

This is why we created a gun amnesty program, in partnership with Henry's. During our Pixels for Pistols gun amnesty, people can safely dispose of unwanted firearms by contacting the Toronto Police Service at 416-808-2222. They need not fear if the weapon is not registered properly. This is an amnesty. They can be assured that the weapon will be destroyed safely. They will receive something of significant value in return, a camera and photography lessons from Henry's. Most important, their home and their city will be safer.

We don't expect criminals will surrender their firearms. They are not the target of our amnesty. Our goal is to reduce the number of guns in this city which could fall into the hands of criminals, guns which are almost-certainly in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Since the start of the amnesty, citizens have turned in more than 300 firearms, firearms which will never be used to commit a crime.

Reducing the supply of guns is only one part of our strategy to reduce violence in our communities, but it is an important step. We must also work to reduce the demand for those guns.

Violent individuals, who choose to put their fellow citizens at risk, must be brought to justice and dealt with appropriately. The criminal gangs that victimize our neighbourhoods must be dismantled, and their members prevented from inflicting more harm. The public must be protected from dangerous individuals. Criminals must be held accountable for the choices they make.

We must invest in our priority neighbourhoods and our youth, to provide them with better opportunities and better choices. This is a complex problem. There is no single, simple solution. It will require our best efforts, and an unrelenting resolve to keep our city and all of our neighbourhoods safe. We must all do our part.

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