9/01/2010

Canada's gun registry didn't make Canadians safer

Lorne Gunter has this piece in the National Post:

The key factor to consider when determining the fate of the federal long-gun registry is whether or not it prevents crime. That was its initial objective. That is how Jean Chretien's Liberal government justified the nearly $2-billion that has been spent on the project and a bureaucracy that continues to consume between $87-million (RCMP estimate) and $106-million (Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimate) annually.

If the registry prevents murders and cuts down on other gun crimes such as robberies and armed drug deals, then there might be a case for keeping it -- might. Otherwise, there is no justification for the way it makes criminals of law-abiding gun owners.

In fact, on the crime-prevention front, the registry has been an abject failure. . . . .

In a study on the effectiveness of the registry, released Tuesday, the RCMP argued that the registry has had a positive effect on suicides committed with guns. To which I say: So what? The key number we should be looking at is suicides, not suicides performed through this or that method.

The overall number of suicides in Canada has not subsided since the advent of the registry. Each year, between 3,500 and 3,800 Canadians end their own lives. There are fewer now killing themselves with guns, true, but more doing so with rope, pills, gas and cars. . . .

Interesting, too, is a chart on page 23 of the new RCMP report that compares total U.S. homicides (all weapons and methods) with total Canadian homicides. Since 1991, the U.S. murder rate has fallen by over 40%, the Canadian rate by less than a third.

Since both rates involve far more than just firearms-related homicides, it's impossible to say definitively whether gun control has had any impact. However, it is interesting that while we have been wasting years on the registry, the Americans, with no registry, have seen a much larger drop in murders. . . . .

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