A private member’s Bill C-391 was passed in the House of Commons in Canada during November 2009 with the supports from New Democrats and from 18 Liberals. Now, the proposal has gone to Committee. If it passed, this Act will amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long –gun registry) through a second reading.
The registration of shotguns and rifles will be eliminated due to this bill. This bill will negate the domestic violence prevention workers, suicide prevention workers and front line police to use registry as an effective tool to minimize crimes due to guns.
Supporters of this bill have argued that shotguns and rifles are really causing no harm in Canada. This is an untrue statement. In domestic violence, in killing police officers and in suicides, it has been observed that only shot guns and rifles have been employed frequently in Canada. According to Denis Cote , President of Police in Quebec , any type of gun either it may be shot guns or rifles in the wrong hands is a real danger to public safety and this law will facilitate criminals to access to guns to accomplish their devastating aims.( www.guncontrol.ca 2009 ).
According to Yuves Francoeur, President of Police in Montreal, about 11,000 times a day, police in Canada uses the gun registry. Registry offers as an excellent mechanism for police to find out the details of individual who own what gun and to be held him for accountable. He recalled that at Polytechnique shooting on December 1989, only a hunting gun was used by the shooter, Ruger Mini. Registry should not be scrapped on the reasons that registry has not helped in avoiding the gun crimes or that registry will not prevent all criminal acts, he argued.
According to Brunco Marchand, Director of Suicide Prevention of Quebec, stronger controls should be implemented on shotguns and rifles as these types of guns are most available in people’s home as suicide has been arrested satisfactorily due to registration of these guns. Further, gun is not only problem of urban since suicide rates are substantially higher in the provinces where there are larger rates of gun ownership. For instance, there has been major reduction in suicide rates in Quebec since 1995 mainly due to gun registry and initiatives to increase awareness and enhancement of storage of firearms. When there is a risk of suicide, gun registry will be of immense help to facilitate the removal of firearms. (www.guncontrol.ca is a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and President of the Coalition for Gun Control, the present campaign against gun registry in Canada is due to US motivated campaign to misrepresent facts. He was of the opinion that millions of dollars have been expended lavishly on targeted goebel’s propaganda to misrepresent the truth. The critics often cite the costs of the registry but the RCMP had categorically informed that abolishing of registry for shotguns and rifles will save only about $3 million per year, which will be well above the c annum, intricate murder investigation. It is to be noted that Canada has registered more than 7 million guns as on the date and the money has already been spent. Now, only new guns shall have to be registered. Thus, in comparison to the costs of gun injury and death, the $3 million dollars per annum it costs to maintain the registration of shotguns and rifles is trivial. (www.guncontrol.ca 2009).
More Gun Means More Death
It has been proved that there have been higher deaths where there are higher rates of gun ownership where there is no registration or licensing process. This is mainly because there are more guns in the home, and then there is likely to be employed in homicides, accidents and suicide. Canada is not an exception to this rule. Northeastern Ontario has gun death rates, which are twice over than provincial average. Further, provinces with higher rates of gun ownership like Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba reported to have higher than average rates gun injury and death. Toronto has reported an increase in gang related handgun violence and at the same time, Ontario has one of the lowest rates of gun injury and death in Canada.
Many researchers have proved that when other factors remained constant, death due to gun increases in proportion to the number of gun ownership. One research study revealed that there exist a 92% relationship between firearms death rates and households with guns both in comparable industrialized nations and within Canada.
The Stakeholders and Governance of Canadian Fire Arm Program
In 2006, the daily operations of the Canada Firearms Center (CAFC) and the administration and responsibility of the Firearms Act of the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) was placed under the control of the RCMP. (Royal Canadian Mount Police). The Commissioner of the RCMP was made as the Commissioner of Firearms and the CAFC had become an operational service line under the management of Deputy Commissioner of NPS. (National Police Service). To ensure that there is a minimal disruption to the program, a transition program providing particular transition activities was introduced and was expected to be fulfilled by the close of the 2007-08.
CAFC acts as a supporting body both for Canadian and for international police services as regards to registration and licensing details. It offers information to police and other departments with expertise and data critical to the prevention gun related misuse and crime both for internationally and for Canada. Thus, through the information offered by CAFC, one can differentiate between illegal and legal firearms and both lawful and illegal gun owners in Canada. It also facilitates the outlawing of trafficking of firearms. CAFC interacts with territories and provinces, with national organizations that are concerned with firearm safety, associated with many educational institutions of firearm safety as regards to secure storage, transportation, display and managing of firearms.
CAFC also works closely with Aboriginal people to inculcate safety training, verification of firearms and helping them with the registration and licensing of their firearms and surrounding communities.
CAFC main missions are as follows:
- Supporting the law agencies of municipal, provincial and federal in the investigation and the prevention of firearms incidents and crimes.
- To control the purchase, ownership and possession of firearms.
- To control some kinds of firearms
- To avert the abuse of firearms.
CAFC main mandates are to improve the public safety by:
- Assisting to minimize death, threat and injury from firearms, mainly through conscientious use, ownership and storage of firearms.
- To offer police and other departments with data and expertise critical to the investigation and prevention of misuses and crimes of firearm both internationally and in Canada.
The main stakeholders of CFP are police department, public, gun owners, gun sellers, NGO’s for and against gun ownership in Canada, various parliamentary committees as CFP functions are continuously reviewed by them, the office of the Auditor General, various provincial governments , federal government , Federal partners like the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) , Public Safety Canada , the Department of Foreign Affairs , the Department of Justice , International Trade Canada ( DFAIT) and the provincial Chief Fire Arms Officer (CFO).
CFAC is prepared to meet any eventualities and in case of the proposed change in the firearms’ registry , it will be prolong to spotlight on preparing for and supporting the government’s efforts by reviewing practices and methodology to address the effects of this mammoth change in gun control law in Canada.
In its efforts to attain enhanced program effectiveness and efficiency, the CAFC will prolong to spotlight on the Auditor General recommendations made in 2006. Through an action plan, it is addressing the identified issues by AG and will efficiently enhance its service quality and services to the client and will enhance the quality of services offered to partners by enhancing the tools and systems, will aim for the cost effectiveness of the program and permit the tools being employed to more efficiently to ensure security and safety to the public. The CAFC will also spotlight on the upgradation of technology so as to offer better services to its clients.
Canadian Fire Arms Information System (CFIS) is mainly designed to record, track and offer data on licensed owners of specific firearms and about firearms to police agencies and other abovementioned stakeholders. With the help of a link between CFIS , the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) , the Firearms Interest Police (FIP) which offers useful data to CFOs to take decisions about eligibility and client licensing and police officers who are administering the Criminal Code. With the help of information recorded in FIP file of CPIC, CFOs have turned down about 400 fire arms new license applications. Further, about 16000 investigations were made by firearm officers with the help of CPIC information and due to this, CFO revoked about 2084 licenses in 2006. (www.tbs-sct.gc.ca 2008-09).
Change Management / Transformation Strategy
CFRS was introduced on 1 December 1998. The new system CFRS had replaced the Restricted Weapon Registration System and had integrated with other police information systems like FIP and CPIC mainly to offer enforcement and administrative support to all partners involved in registration and licensing of firearms in Canada.
However, in 2001, the CAFC acknowledged that the present system was not at all working properly as its technology was inflexible, costly, not to expectations and could not be improved at a reasonable budget to support future firearm control operations. For effective administration reasons, the accountability and responsibility for the CFP were transferred to Solicitor –General from the Minister of Justice on April 11, 2003.The ongoing operation phase of CFP includes shifting of focus to solidifying management techniques, client services, risk management and quality assurance from registration and licensing phase. The physical security and as well as information security is on high levels and the allegation that data in the gun registry are not secure to safeguard personal information is totally incorrect, and it is to be noted that data in CPIC has never been breached as on the date.( www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca 2009).
In Canada, a firearm can be purchased from the registered fire dealer. The gun registry acts as preventer of gun crimes as the firearm owner will be prohibited from passing their legally acquired firearm for the safekeeping by an unauthorized individual. According to ‘ Coalition for control “ ,as of 1990, the usage of firearms in crimes are equally divided , as about fifty two percent of guns are being diverted from domestic owners and about forty eight percent of firearms are being smuggled into Canada from the United States. Further, both handguns and long guns are smuggled into border cities like Toronto and Vancouver. According to Cook and Braga study made in 2001, there are two different kinds of crimes by guns, and they are “diffuse sources “and “point sources”. Point sources are the gun stores with scrupulous trade practices and rogue business dealers who intentionally smash the law or burglary groups that aim gun stores. By analyzing various research studies, Cook and Braga were of the opinion that about thirty seven percent of guns acquired by criminals from their family members or friends, about thirty two percent of illegal guns were acquired from the street or from the black market and about eighteen percent are obtained from the retail outlets and about eighteen percent of illegal guns are sourced by theft. According to the study made by the George Tita and Greg Ridgeway, in 2007, diffuse sources like single straw purchase or single residential burglary have very little effect on the supply of guns into the illegal market. (Tita,Troshynski and Graves 2007).
No of gun related deaths in Canada
|Accidental discharge of guns||23||–|
|Suicide by guns||568||–|
|Assault by guns||149||–|
|Other death by guns||3||–|
Canada is occupying 7th place in the gun related deaths in the year 2005 on the global level. Further, the gun related deaths in Canada were at peak between 1975 and 1977 before the introduction of bill c-57. After the introduction of c-57, gun associated deaths were actually on the decline between 1977 and 1991. Bill c-47 witnessed a further decline in gun associated deaths between 1991 and 1995. Canada was able to bring down the gun related deaths drastically after the introduction of Bill c-68. It is argued by the opponents of gun registry that possession of guns makes them secure and to save them from enemies, robbers and animals. The abolition of gun registry will facilitate them to possess the gun, mainly for their self-protection. Further, they argue that it will save money both to citizens and Canadian government, and it will also prevent illegitimate gun trade in Canada. One of the alternatives available is that voluntary reporting of guns by the owners to authorities but this may increase the illegal trafficking and may push the Canada to occupy the first place in gun related deaths on the global level.
However, from the past records, one can learn that strict gun control regime in Canada has actually brought down gun-associated deaths drastically. Hence, I strongly recommend based on past data that gun registry should not be scrapped in Canada.
Why Gun Control Registry should not be abolished in Canada
It is projected that in excess of 200,000 individuals die each year around the world as the result of accidents, suicides and homicides involving guns and firearms. For instance, in 2004, in USA, there were about165, 000 gun assaults, 162,938 gun robberies and 11345 gun murders. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, US). This is clearly shows that due to laxity in gun control regimes in USA, there is the high incidence of deaths due to guns. Further, USA, is leading the figures in deaths due to guns on the global basis. Identical trends are witnessed in Canada as rates of homicide started to climb again after continues decline during the past decade. Though, Canada has a lower rate of gun homicide as compared to US, but there is every possibility that the present gap may widen in the near future. (Tita, Troshynski and Graves 2007).
According to data released by the Canadian Center for Justice Statistics, the overall homicide in Canada remains relatively low as compared to USA. In Canada, there were 2.04 gun deaths per 100,000 and whereas in US, it was about 5.06 gun deaths per 100,000 in 2005. The data also signifies various trends that may act as an indicator which probably signifies the salient changes in the system of homicide within Canada. Though, Canada witnessed continuous decline in gun deaths, the 2005 figures represent the second successive year that rates of homicide in Canada have started to increase. In 2005, the usage of firearms than knives superseded which represented that the gun is the largest unique category of armory employed to unleash homicide. Further, there has been an obvious shift in the varieties of firearms employed. Long guns and rifles were the main weapon used in homicide prior to the mid-1990s. However, shotguns and rifles are being used now in homicide. In 2005 alone, about fifty eight percent of handguns were employed, which doubled the number of homicides than death caused by shotguns / rifles if used. Further, gang homicide showed an abnormal increase of forty eight percent increases as compared to year 2004. In 2004, gang homicide was only 72 in numbers, whereas it increased to 107 in 2005. Quebec and Ontario witnessed high incidence of gang homicide in 2005. (Tita, Troshynski and Graves 2007).
It is significant to identify trends in gun violence and to comprehend the motives that gun violence might be augmenting, particularly among youth gang which has become a top priority both for citizens and Canadian governments. (Tita, Troshynski and Graves 2007).
Firearm registry is playing a significant role in identification of crimes, use of illegal arms and usage of stolen arms. In May 2000, with the help of firearm registry, police was able to trace out one of the most advanced firearm smuggling rings in North America. Further, complete trade in black markets was abolished and about 23,000 firearms and their parts were confiscated. Further, with help of registry, license may be refused to psycho patient, earlier crime perpetrators and habitual offenders. For instance, in 1999, with the help of FIP database in Quebec, many cases of domestic abuse were traced to ‘valid license holders and subsequently, their licenses were annulled. Canada ranks fifth in the rate of children being killed by guns globally. The provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta have statistics of children killed with guns as high as Northern Ireland and Israel joined together. (FAQ www.guncontrol.ca).
It is to be noted that Canadian government has spent $2 billion over the years for the establishment of gun registry, registration and screening. Since, Canadian government has spent already the fixed costs and it has to spend only variable costs, every year – about registering 400,000 new guns each year which is likely to involve a recurring expenditure of every year, $15 million for each year. However, if gun registry is abolished, it will make the whole system to fail as it would be difficult to refer back gun to its owners. Even Supreme Court of Canada had said that gun registry was vital for enforcing the licensing of gun owners.
I totally disagree with the findings of Auditor General of Canada that Canadian government spent more than $2 billion over the past several years which was in excess of its budget. Canadian government is spending about $130 million every year for the removal of snow in Montreal. It was argued by the critics of Ontario government that government spending on water testing was very expensive. On that basis, Ontario government curtailed it.However, it faced Walkerton tragedy and its erstwhile health top official warned the Canadian Federal government not to repeat the same mistake of Walkerton tragedy in the abolishing of the gun control program. Canadian government is spending more than $120 million each year on the passport office. There is no hue and cry against such huge expenditure. It is to be remembered that prevention is better than cure. Hence, according to me, gun registry is to be continued else public safety will be at stake.Thus, according to me scrapping gun registry in Canada will be a great threat to public safety. When Canadian government is spending about $130 million for snow cleaning in Montreal, I really wonder why there is a vociferous hue and cry for $ 2 billion spent on gun control programs in the last decade. (The cost of gun controls v the cost of gun violence.
Conceiving and implementing efficient programs to minimize gun violence needs great priority at all levels of Canadian government. National policies should be drafted that should offer an impetus in handling issues of gun accessibility both in limiting the flooding of illegal firearms across U.S and Canada borders and access of firearms by private citizens. Canadian federal government should also focus on supply of resources like criminal justice services, social services and valuable data. Further, local governments in Canada must offer analogues resources and its local leaders need to make sure that the interventions and policies are being introduced particularly designed to the study the causes and nature of gun violence in their provinces. (Tita, Troshynski and Graves 2007).
List of References
Ivey (2007). Canadian FireArms Program.
Tita George E, Troshynski Emily & Graves Michelle. (2007). Strategies for reducing gun violence.Web.
(2009 ) Police Officers , Suicide Prevention Experts against Dismantling of Firearms Registry.
(2009). More guns, more deaths. Web.
(2008). Canada’s Firearm Center. Web.
(2009). Tall tales about gun control in Canada. Web.
(2009) Frequently Asked Questions. Web.
(2009). The cost of gun controls v the cost of gun violence. Web.