Compared to figures in the billions and even trillions we read about daily relating to deficits and bailouts, a number in the thousands is a minuscule drop in the bucket.
Take the figure 10,000 for example — a sum being bandied about in many quarters as the number of times the national gun registry is accessed on a daily basis.
It’s gospel according to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and front and centre in material being distributed by the Canadian Labour Congress in their campaign to maintain the long gun registry which could soon be dismantled if Bill C-391 passes final vote.
However, upon closer inspection, the daily figure of 10,000 just doesn’t pass muster. Yes indeed, the registry does receive that many daily hits on average, but closer scrutiny is warranted.
Two years ago, that figure was 2,000 times per day, and mushroomed up to 5,000 last year. But what do those numbers actually represent?
John Evers, a director with the East Elgin Sportsmen’s Association has spent considerable time delving into that very question.
“Our group crunched those numbers,” Evers explained to City Scope this week, “and we have bias, don’t get me wrong here. But every time you buy or sell a gun, that creates three hits to the system, automatically, which is included in that 10,000.”
Did you know, when you get pulled over by the police because of your disregard for the speed limit, the gun registry comes into play when your driver information is run through the system?
“The officer in question does not request (gun registry) information,” Evers explains, “it automatically goes there. Every time a prisoner is released from prison, it’s five hits (on the gun registry). Why?”
So, what is a more realistic figure once you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Less than 20 hits per day on the registry, Evers advises.
“Actual registration enquiries prompted by a police officer sitting in his car wanting to know the registration on this certificate number.”
Grind things down a little finer and you get a little closer to reality.
“Four out of 10,000 hits actually bring you content that is at all usable by a front-end officer in terms of daily use. And, that’s across the country.”
It’s a figure police departments choose to ignore, in lieu of the all-encompassing 10,000 daily hits to the gun registry that is more favourable to the cause, Evers stresses.
It’s meaningless data, he suggests.
“What do you actually do with it to prevent a crime or solve a crime? If you ask that question, you get a really neat answer — ‘We don’t know.’ The RCMP does not track results of the system.
“It keeps getting dragged out, 10,000 uses, but it’s meaningless. People who don’t look into it further go, ‘Wow, they’re really using it. If they’re using it that much, it must be important.'”
When push comes to shove, yes the registry is being used 10,000 times a day, but when you look into it and study the data, it’s a very misleading number.
“A glossy sheen of truth,” is how Evers portrays the data. “But inside, it’s rotten.”
So, the next time a police chief, school board official or politician parades that figure, ask for a detailed breakdown on what the 10,000 daily hits really represents.
Because it’s very easy to shoot holes through that number.
There’s hope on the political landscape as approximately 30 women were in attendance at the Run Woman Run workshop held Thursday in Port Stanley.
Moderated by Helen LeFrank and featuring a solid lineup of speakers and panelists, including Bayham Mayor (and master limerick purveyor) Lynn Acre, Dutton/Dunwich Mayor Bonnie Vowel and Thames Centre Deputy Mayor Delia Reiche, the day-long session was undertaken to encourage women to seek local office.
With municipal elections less than a year down the road, we can only hope some of the attendees take up the cause and add their name to the ballot.
That includes the St. Thomas mayoralty race, where a challenge to the old boys’ club would be of value.
ANOTHER BODY BLOW
St. Thomas is one of about 160 municipalities in the province expected to be negatively impacted by a significant reduction in the grant it receives through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.
The drop could be as much as $900,000 over the past year.
“This is quite a hit to a municipality that’s had to deal with the economic downturn,” warns treasurer Bill Day, “and it’s going to be doubly tough to swallow this hit in addition to the things we’re having to absorb.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m sure it’s going to impact everybody in every city hall department because we have to find that money or put it on the back of the taxpayers. And I don’t believe we should be having high tax increases at this time when we’re in a recession and people are struggling to make ends meet.”
Ald. Terry Shackelton, finance committee chairman, on the potential reduction in dollars received by the city from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.