How many gun crimes are committed by registered owners?
No one knows.
by Lorne Gunter
Last month, the RCMP and Statistics Canada were forced to admit that they don’t keep statistics relating to the number of violent gun crimes in Canada that are committed by licenced gun owners using registered guns.
“Please note,” Statistics Canada wrote in response to an access to information request filed by the National Firearms Association, “that the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey does not collect information on licensing of either guns or gun owners related to the incidents of violent crime reported by police.” Nor does StatsCan’s annual homicide survey “collect information on the registration status of the firearm used to commit a homicide.”
This raises the question: Why did it take so long for the government to begin ridding Canada of the horribly expensive, unjustifiably intrusive federal gun registry? If no one in Ottawa had any systematic way of tracking whether or not Canadians suspected of committing a violent gun crime were licensed to own a gun and had registered the gun being used, then they had no way of knowing whether registration and licensing were having a positive impact on crime.There are around 340,000 violent crimes reported to police in Canada each year. Just over 2% of those (around 8,000) involve firearms. (There’s another reason to question the initial wisdom of the gun registry: Why was Ottawa expending so much time, effort and taxpayer money on such a tiny percentage of violent crimes, while doing comparatively little to prevent the 98% of murders, robberies, kidnappings, rapes and beatings not committed with a gun?)
Typically, gun crime is committed by street criminals using stolen or contraband weapons. The gun registry never had any effect on this class of thug. Some of the 8,000 violent gun crimes no doubt were committed by licensed owners using registered guns — people who might be tracked or even deterred using a registry system. But since no one in Ottawa ever had any idea how many people are in this latter group, they had no way of determining the usefulness of the registry.
A cynic might say that not knowing was the point all along. Backers of the registry knew it would produce very little impact, so they deliberately didn’t bother collecting data that would confirm the database’s uselessness.
I think the truth is less conspiratorial (and far more arrogant): Backers were so sure the registry would produce tangible benefits, they never thought they might need to show proof. After all, they were experts and they had thought it up, so how could it not work?
I would have thought it was a better strategy to collect as much data as possible from year one. That way backers could track the decline in gun crimes committed by licensed owners using guns they themselves had registered. But neither StatsCan nor the RCMP — nor, for that matter, local police forces — tallies gun crimes relative to who committed them and whether or not the gun used was registered with the federal government. It was purely on blind faith that supporters of the registry — police chiefs, victims’ rights groups, women’s shelter operators and grandstanding politicians — assumed that making Canadians register their guns would magically cut down on violent crime.
Gary Mauser, an emeritus professor at the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., and one of the country’s leading firearms researchers, has done his best to piece together some sort of statistical analysis of firearms crime and licenced gun owners. Using Library of Parliament data and raw StatsCan crime numbers, Prof. Mauser believes about 3% of murders committed in Canada since the registry opened in 1998 have been committed by licenced gun owners using firearms, registered or not — this despite the fact that at least 8% of Canadians own firearms. Prof. Mauser calculates that this works out to a rate of 0.38 murders per 100,000 licensed gun owners versus a murder rate of 1.85 per 100,000 — nearly five times higher — for the population as a whole.
All of this shows what a horrendous waste of time and money the registry has been. The sooner it is dismantled, the better.
Original web source: National Post