“We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.”
Seems hard to avoid the “gun control” vs “crime control” confusion. The reaction of most people is that controlling the first controls the second. But does it?
In 1995 Canada passed a law to render any citizen who did not report his or her ownership of a “non-restricted” firearm (even a squirrel gun) within a certain grace period (I think it was 18 months),a criminal, and outside the law.
Even a cherished historical family heirloom such as an ornately-designed colonial musket, could henceforth not be passed on to a child by inheritance. You had to surrender it to government without compensation, whence it would be destroyed. Many considered this property theft by government. There was national anger. I became a criminal over it because I refused to register my 22 caliber biathlon sport rifle.
Being a part of the Post WWII generation, I grew up with firearms, did mandatory military and firearms training in high school, and so found the whole notion of retroactively criminalizing innocent citizens like me to be profoundly obnoxious – especially, as I discovered, because the majority of all gun-homicides at that time were being committed with illegal handguns, and those have been banned in Canada since the 1934!
Obviously, criminals were not about to surrender or report their illegal handguns. Almost all other gun-deaths were suicides. And at the time, about 40% of all homicides were carried out with a knife. This is still the case in Canada and the USA, where 30-40% are knife killings. Was the government going to do a national inventory of kitchen knives and require all homeowners to register them? And if not, why not?
And, I was surprised to learn from the first studies I read on this topic by excellent researchers like Professors/Economists/Criminologists such as Kleck in the USA, and Mauser in Canada, that with the exception of the USA, in every country where strict gun-control has been tried, homicides rates go up, not down!
But why? The explanation seemed to be that in countries like England, where the new gun laws were especially draconian, innocent citizens were now disarmed, and so neither they nor the public the places that in effect became “gun-free” zones, were able to defend themselves. Crazies intent on violence and homicide intentionally picked such sites as targets.
I have heard the recent slaughter site in El Paso was a “gun free” zone, and sensible people are saying that at least if some of those citizens had been armed, the shooter might very well have been stopped. At any rate, after the El Paso massacre, freer gun laws for self-defence, not more restrictive laws, was the immediate demand. That would be my demand, too.
In Canada, a so-called national “Gun-registry” was created in 1995 which was slated to cost 2 million dollars but in fact, by the time the Harper government ditched it in 2012, it had cost taxpayers fully $2 billion. What a disgrace!). Then, Parliament ordered the millions of records that cost $2 billion to collect, destroyed. One of the reasons was testimony in 2003 from such as Joe Fantino, Ontario’s then Chief of Police:
What he doesn’t mention was that another reason, not widely advertised (this I gleaned from an RCMP police officer I interviewed for an article) was that for handsome bribe-money, insiders were too easily able to provide thieves, break-and-enter gangs with exact locations of home-owners’ weapons. They would have all your home details, address, type and number of firearms in your home, etc.
Here is an interesting insight into that boondoogle:
John Hicks, a computer consultant, and webmaster for the Canada Firearms Centre, has said that anyone with a home computer could have easily accessed names, addresses and detailed shopping lists (including make, model and serial number) of registered guns belonging to licensed firearms owners in Canada. Hicks said that “During my tenure as the CFC webmaster I duly informed management [of the national firearms registry] that the website that interfaced to the firearms registry was flawed. It took some $15 million to develop and I broke into it within 30 minutes.”
Mauser and Kleck concluded that the reason homicides and violent crimes in general went down n the USA in the period of their study of new gun laws, but up in all other strict gun-law nations, was that many US states have passed, and others are soon to pass, more liberal concealed-carry laws and have to date issued permits to almost 18 million US citizens, which surely must discouraged criminals in those states. There is a tangle of conflicting opinion on this from researchers (according to whether they are liberal or conservative/libertarian) but no conflict at all from those who have decided to defend themselves and their families!
I should add that Kleck and Mauser (who have often done cooperative research) both concluded from in-depth surveys that in both countries we need to be cognizant of the number of serious crimes and home invasions deterred annually by armed homeowners. An estimated 2.1 million defensive gun uses per year in the USA, and over 32,000 per year in Canada. The US population is about 10 times larger than Canada’s so that seems to jibe. Kleck’s estimate has been criticized, of course, but …
Marvin Wolfgang, who was acknowledged in 1994 by the British Journal of Criminology as ″the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world″, commented on Kleck’s research concerning defensive gun use: “I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. […] The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.”
Well really, even if you slashed Kleck’s estimate in half, that’s a lot of crime stopped in its tracks – and by private citizens, not by police. I defend good police work. But anyone knows they can’t be everywhere, and in an attack on our home or person, time is of the essence.
A well-respected (though of course not without controversy) expert on the extent to which right to carry laws discourage crime in American states with carry laws, is John Lott, whose efforts and recent book, More Guns, Less Crime, can be seen here.
Sorry to go on so long. Got caught up in it.
I think the only thing all can agree on is that the controversy isn’t going to stop tomorrow!