Saturday, September 18, 2010

John Weston's embarrassing gun registry comments

John Weston:
"We all support the licensing of people who own firearms and the registration of prohibited or restricted weapons (such as handguns). That's not going to change; this Conservative government is unwavering in that. We know full well that criminals don't register their guns and that's what makes the long gun registry wasteful and ineffective,"

Criminals can not register their guns. Being able to register a gun presupposes that one has a Possession and Acquisition Licence and a criminal record is grounds for being denied a PAL and for a PAL being revoked. However, this does not mean that some criminals do not try to register their guns. "More than 1,500 Canadians were refused licences for their guns from 2006-2009, on the basis of background checks triggered when they went to register the weapons." The most common reason for denying these gun owners a license was that they were a risk to others. "The program revoked another 6,093 licences in the same period as a result of continuous screening, court orders and complaints to its public safety line.

Semantics aside, Weston's argument does not make much sense. Car thieves can not register their ill gotten goods with ICBC either, but I do see anyone giving this as a reason for not having to register cars. To make matters worse for Weston, it nearly impossible for him to on the one hand throw his support behind registering "prohibited or restricted weapons (such as handguns)" and on the other hand demand that long guns no longer be registered. After all, the reason he gives for the latter is that criminals do not register their long guns as well as their prohibited and restricted weapons. Weston can not have his cake and eat it too.

"This is a big distraction. It has been politicized. There is an unfortunate need for the Liberals to defend their waste of the $2 billion by continually coming up with justifications.

The Conservatives like to hammer the Liberals over the cost of the gun registry and rightly so. That said, the gun registry's 1 billion dollar price tag does not have any baring on whether long guns should be registered. What matters is whether the annual cost (between 1.5 and 4 million dollars) of registering long guns is worth it. Implying that the initial cost over runs justify dumping any part of the gun registry now is akin to saying the gazebo in Tony Clement's riding should be blown up because the Conservatives spent 1.3 Billion on a three day conference . It makes no sense.

Now as for the justifications the Liberals have given for continuing to register long guns, other than to point out that the fact that the gun registry is used x number of times each day by the police, the Liberals have said remarkably little about the gun registry over the years. Their refusal to say much more has hurt them. They would have been in much better place had the continually come up with justifications.

Moving on, it is rich of Weston to imply that the Liberals have politicized the issue more than other parties. Not only have the Liberals not continually come up with justifications, they have spent a fraction of the Conservatives have on the issue. The Conservatives have spent money on radio ads and billboards. The Liberals have not.

"This is a big distraction. It has been politicized. There is an unfortunate need for the Liberals to defend their waste of the $2 billion by continually coming up with justifications.
There's an Angus Reid poll that says 72 per cent of Canadians want the registry scrapped. There was a nationwide survey of rank-and-file police officers that said 92 per cent of them thought the registry was ineffective."

In 2006 Conservative candidate form Ajax Pickering famously said “The facts don’t matter.” I see John Weston is of the same mindset.

The auditor general put the cost of the gun registry at just under 1 billion, no Angus Reid poll ever showed those numbers and and this so called nationwide survey of rank and file police officers was chat room poll and so was no more scientific than Ted White's many "polls". My hat goes off to the North shore News for pointing this out.

"Setting up the registry ran notoriously over budget, reaching nearly $1 billion, according to the federal auditor general."

"In fact, the Aug. 24 Angus Reid poll of 1,005 Canadians reported that 44 per cent favoured scrapping the registry, with 35 per cent opposed and 21 per cent unsure. The police survey was an unscientific online poll conducted by an Edmonton officer on a police chat forum. The forum's operator later disavowed the survey, calling the results "mixed and inconclusive."

By the way, this is what the most recent poll shows.

"Overall, 48 per cent of those surveyed believe it's a bad idea to abolish the registry, with 38 per cent supporting its abolition. (Harris/Decima interviewed just over 1000 Canadians. A sample of this size has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.)"

John Weston:
"The answer remains that we don't have any documented cases -- that I know of -- where the registry has performed its avowed purpose," he said. "In each case, if you look closely the registry would not have saved the victim. It's not doing its job. All it's doing is intruding on the liberties of Canadian farmers, duck hunters, and other law-abiding gun owners."

The gun registry is, first and foremost a tool for seizing guns from people who should no longer have them. I doubt even Weston would deny that it makes the seizure of guns easier. This was the thrust of what West Vancouver police chief Lepine said.

"Having a detailed inventory of the 4,029 registered firearms in West Vancouver helps police with court-ordered seizures of weapons from convicted offenders, said Lepine. If legally held weapons are stolen and eventually surface somewhere in the criminal economy, the registry records give officers a place to start in their investigation, he said.

"The next one is public safety. We get calls from mental-health providers saying 'We're concerned about a particular individual.' We'll do that check and go and seize (their firearms) so they don't harm themselves or someone else."

The problem is that Weston refuses to acknowledge that sometimes legally registered weapons need to be seized because the owner has, for example, been convicted of a crime. In this he is not alone; I have yet to hear a Conservative acknowledge that there have been thousands of "Canadian farmers, duck hunters", who acquired a criminal record over the last 12 years and over the next 12 years there will be thousands more.

As for specific examples, Weston must not have looked very hard.

“I think we've probably prevented some major events,” says Dr. Barbara Kane, a psychiatrist in Prince George, B.C. The RCMP has called Kane asking whether she is concerned about certain individuals applying to register a gun. She believes such a call prevented tragedy after a millworker was fired.

“He could easily have gone into one of the mills and done something bad,” she says. “But we were able to get his guns away from him.”


Anonymous said...

Great piece.

kirbycairo said...

Well done.

Luke said...

John Weston doesn’t support the long gun registry because criminals don’t register their guns. . . .But yet he supports registering hand guns; are the criminals registering their handguns?

The Conservative’s argument against that the LGR is: it unfairly targets hunters and farmers. They claim; if the paper work is not completed in time then hunters/farmers are classified as criminals.

Just what paperwork are the Conservatives referring to; firearms only have to be registered once and the deadline to register non-restricted firearms was 2003. Of course the Conservatives in 2006 have issued amnesties after amnesties for registering non-restricted firearms. However; the amnesty applies only to individuals who are taking steps to comply with the law and possess non-restricted firearms without a valid firearms licence, or individuals who hold a registration certificate along with a licence that expired after January 1, 2004.

Are the Conservatives referring to the paper work concerning issuing of firearm licences, or the renewal of one’s firearm licence? Not according to John Weston:
"We all support the licensing of people who own firearms and the registration of prohibited or restricted weapons (such as handguns). That's not going to change; this Conservative government is unwavering in that.

A firearm licence is a person’s authorization to possess and register a firearm and to obtain ammunition. A person’s firearm licence must be kept current for as long as you possess firearms in Canada.

If a person’s firearm licence expires, the registration certificates of the firearm may be revoked. Therefore, it is very important to renew your licence before it expires in order to minimize the risk of penalties under the Criminal Code for illegal possession of a firearm.

The registry is a little insurance policy to ensure firearm owners comply with the law of renewing their firearm licences; (Conservatives support licencing right?).

Then there’s Peter Mackay; “The fact is, he said, that when people commit crimes using guns, they usually use black-market guns. And they don’t register them.”
If the LGR is scrapped; more straw purchases will be made and as a result more black-market firearms on the street?

CanadianSense said...

The annual cost is not four million. That was the savings transferring the program.

Apparently the media missed that and climate gate, go figure.

The wafer and Helena mortgage was more important.