Here today. Armed Tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In the face of an Auditor-General report that says the controversial gun registry is continuing to cost the country billions more then originally intended, the Federal government this week announced it’s intention to scrap the program either in part or in it’s entirety.

In the face of more gun related crime last weekend, and the prospect of another “Summer of the Gun” hanging over the heads of Torontonians, this hardly came as welcoming news. Many Canadians have complained about the perceived waste generated by the previous government’s investment in the program; scrapping it has been amongst the list of priorities for the Conservative government.

“Without a registry, our streets are not as safe as they could be,” said Ontario’s Attorney General Michael Bryant to the press on Tuesday. “We have had five coroner’s inquests in the province of Ontario calling for a gun registry of all kinds of hand guns and long guns.”

According to Bryant, police search the registry up to 5000 times per day.

“Police continue to support the gun registry,” said Bryant’s boss Premier Dalton McGuinty. “I think it is really important for the police to know if they are going to call upon a particular residence…to have access to information that might tell them whether or not there is a gun in there.”

Former member of the Toronto Police’s guns and gangs task force Detective Stacy Gallant agrees with this assessment, saying that a police officer entering a residence known to have guns is of the mind to “Be careful, this house has guns in it. So they’re not walking in there blind, knocking on the front door…They’re going to be more cautious.”

Gallant concedes though that sometimes the registry merely means added paperwork for an arresting officer.

While exact statistics about how effective the gun registry is in preventing crime are hard to quantify; police chiefs nation-wide view the registry as essential to public safety. While the vast majority of Toronto’s 52 gun related homicides were committed with handguns, long guns are unique to certain types of homicide like domestic abuse cases.

In addition, Tony Cannavino of the Canadian Professional Police Association that six of the last seven police officers killed in the line of duty was murdered with long guns.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, particularly Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, have already begun to gut the registry by announcing this week that there will be a one year amnesty for long gun owners who have yet to register their firearms.

Already the Conservatives have under funded the registry for this year by waved the renewal fee for gun owners’ licenses, cutting $10 million from the gun control program and transferring responsibility for it to the RCMP.

Winnipeg Police Chief Jack Ewatski, speaking as the president of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs had this to say: “To eliminate any part of the national registry, and to backtrack on existing gun control measures such as licensing of owners and registering firearms, will not recover any money spent to date. But it will diminish public safety.”

Written with sources from the Toronto Star

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