10,000 — a number worth investigating further


city_scope_logo-cmyk
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.
POLITICAL INSIGHT
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.”
No kidding.
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: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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3 thoughts on “10,000 — a number worth investigating further

  1. FIREARM REGISTRATION

    1. I do not believe there is any evidence that correlates firearm registration to a reduction (or increase) in crime. If there is I like to read it.

    2. The majority (80%) of gun deaths in Canada are suicide so clearly firearm registration is irrelevant as mental health is the issue.

    That said we are required to register our cars, motorbikes, houses, dogs and cats so why is it considered onerous and unreasonable to have to register firearms?

    POLITICAL INSIGHT

    More people voted against the current members of the St. Thomas city council than voted for them.

    DIRE STRAITS

    If the financial outlook is as bleak as it is being portrayed, why is the City of St. Thomas adding more headcount to the payroll?

    1. Water and Wastewater Supervisor; salary of $79,162 – $98,957, plus benefits.

    2. Parks and Recreation Receptionist; hourly wage of $18.15 – $22.70 plus benefits.

    Not to mention the $180,000 in property taxes that vaporized without any discussion in open chambers.

    QUOTE FOR THE WEEK

    “It is getting harder and harder to support the government in the style to which it has become accustomed.” ~ Anon.

    Bill Sandison
    Advocate for a Better Municipal Government
    STR8TALK in St. Thomas

  2. Bill:

    It’s not the fact we register just about everything else, fair enough, but do criminals register their guns? And for this we’ve paid more than $2 billion. For a system that certainly isn’t hit 10,000 times per day for legitimate purposes. As to city hall, nice to know there’s no hiring freeze there … and good wages to boot. Of course when it’s coming out of our pockets, money is no object. Ian

  3. Ian,

    How a $119M budget, with taxpayers supposedly on the hook for only $2M of it, to create a gun registry grew to $2B is without precedent and explains why then Liberal Justice Minister Allan Crock is now a faded political shadow.
    Looking at the cost-benefit analysis http://www.lufa.ca/quickfacts.asp the gun registry has been a colossal waste of money and should be abolished completely. Whether criminals do or do not register firearms is a bit of a red herring.
    Gun laws are intended to increase public safety – gun registration does not increase public safety. The last prominent gun death I can recall involving a handgun in the area occurred in June 2007 when a London police officer shot and killed a retired police superintendent and then shot and killed herself – it was deemed a murder-suicide.
    As for the 10,000 hits; the public trust in our law enforcement agencies just keeps on sliding down the slippery slope. As an example: back in February Tom Kaye, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) lectured us that tasers do not kill; “To date there is no evidence, either scientific or medical, that a conducted energy weapon, has been the direct cause of death, anywhere, at any time, on any person.” Is it any wonder that many firearm enthusiasts believe firearm registration is nothing more than a tax grab and a precursor to confiscation.

    I’d bet dollars to donuts that the overworked, understaffed and underpaid city executives will be asking for additional headcount in 2010 for their departments.
    Question: Are we now ready for prime time in the form of a zero-based budget; a recommendation that was presented to council in February 2008 and summarily ignored. I’m not sure anyone there even understands what a zero-based budget is – it does not mean a 0% increase in tax rates.

    “Zero based budgeting is a budget-planning procedure for the re-evaluation of an organization’s program and expenditures. It requires each manager to justify the entire budget request in detail and places the burden of proof on the manager to justify why authorization to spend any money at all should be granted. It starts with the assumption that zero will be spent on each activity-thus the term “zero base”. What a manager is already spending is not accepted as starting point.
    Managers are asked to prepare for each activity or operation under their control a “decision package” that includes an analysis of cost, purpose alternative course of action, measure of performance, sequences of not performing the activity, and benefits.
    The zero based budgeting approach asserts that in building the budget from zero, two types of alternative should be considered by managers: (1) different ways of performing the same activity and (2) different levels of effort in performing the activity.”

    Bill

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