Six points about the fire arms registry (a response)

Posted by Ian:
In response to the most recent City Scope column (Nov. 28/09 below) Bruce N. Mills documents (complete with footnotes) a half-dozen key argument points to consider in support of “10,000 — a number worth investigating further” …

Point One: Criminals – who by definition are the most dangerous to public safety – don’t register their guns! The registry can’t tell cops where these guns are.

Point Two: the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is nothing more than a special interest lobby group of appointed politicians, who receive hundreds of thousands of tax dollars from the very departments they lobby to.[1] They also received large donations from TASER Int., and CGI, the company that built the firearms registry system [2]. You can guess why they support these two items. (I also understand attendees at a recent convention were papered with Celine Dion tickets – Ian)

Point Three: Auditor General Sheila Fraser said that the 5,000 (at that time) hits on the registry were only an indicator of activity, not of effectiveness.[3] Nothing has changed since then.

Point Four: MP Garry Breitkreuz found that the vast majority of these “hits” are automatically generated every time someone queries the CPIC system. $2 billion dollars for “busywork”.[4]

Point Five: The RCMP itself says that the major increase in the number of hits is due to their own increased use of the registry[5]; this begs the question, were their constables instructed to use the registry more, or are these just more of the same kind of “automatically generated” hits as part of their overall system?

Point Six: How many of these so-called “hits” come back as saying “not found”? Unfortunately there is no breakdown of these numbers that would tell us. It would come as no surprise that the vast majority did come back as “not found”.

[1] Online Lobbyist Registry Search, keyword: 782489-15089-2

[2] CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD, “Police ethics adviser quits over sponsors”, April 8, 2009

[3] 39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION, Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ms. Sheila Fraser:
I believe that the indicator of the 5,000 hits a day is more of what we call an activity indicator than an indicator of effectiveness. So those law enforcement people who use the registry would have to give an assessment as to whether or not it was useful to them.

There could be 5,000 hits, and they could say yes, it was very helpful and helped me in this way; or they could say no, it wasn’t helpful because the information wasn’t correct. It takes an additional degree of interpretation or information to assess effectiveness.

[4] Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Wednesday, June 7, 2006.

“MP Dave MacKenzie: All I’m trying to indicate to Canadians, though, is that there are not 5,000 checks a day just for firearms registry. Those are automatic checks done by police officers on the street for names and for a variety of things.

RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli: They’re automatic CPIC checks that they automatically go over. I don’t have the number of how many are direct checks. [Page 11]”

[5] Canadian Firearms Program – Survey
2007 Canadian Firearms Registry On-Line
Conducted by the Canada Firearms Centre

The Canadian Firearms Registry On-Line (CFRO) system provides police officers access to firearms licence and registration information in the Canadian Firearms Information System through an interface called the Canadian Police Information Centre. Police queried CFRO an average of 8,600 times per day in the last quarter of 2007. This rate is 44% higher than the same period in 2006, largely attributable to the RCMP’s increased use of the system.

Bruce N. Mills

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