February 3, 2004

Hats off to Anne McLellan, our Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, for launching a Cabinet-level review of the gun registry to try to make it more efficient and cost-effective. She must continue to resist the relentless push to have it dismantled. First, the recent call for more police officers on the street from Al Koenig, president of the Calgary Police Association, is in self-serving harmony with the myopic view of Jim Hinter, president of the National Firearms Association. Hinter's and his indignation over the money spent so far on the registry in Canada, reported in THE NATIONAL POST on January 6, 2004, is riddled with hypocracy. Police officers now have sufficient evidence that tracking these guns does work and contribute to effective policing. Edgar Mcleod, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police argued at length in this context in THE GLOBE AND MAIL on January 15, 2004.

Similar points in defence of our current registration system are made from time to time by numerous criminologists and spokespersons for both The Coalition on Gun Control and the Canada Firearms Centre. They frequently remind us that the registry helps to put us in line with similar registration requirements in other Western Countries and calls from the United Nations itself.

While there is, admittedly, room for improvement in how it is administered, opponents consistently overlook the fact that significant budget overruns were in part precipitated by lawsuits from at least six provinces opposing the legislation and numerous delays in deadlines caused by supposedly law abiding gun owners who have consistently refused to abide by the wishes of the majority of Canadians who voted in favour of registration years ago.

To scrap the registry now, as Hinter urges, would really be a tragic waste of money. Who is he kidding anyway, purporting to speak for the Canadian public at large. Another example of the breathtaking presumption on the part of the National Firearms Association that the priorities and perspectives of ordinary citizens are the same as those of gun loving members of the firearms community whose paranoia about infringement of their rights to bear arms knows no bounds. Somehow, this is supposed to be synonymous with grave threats to our collective civil liberties.

We must not allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into scrapping a gun control system that is now helping to make Canada one of the world's safest countries. To do so, would be wasteful, irresponsible and a serious loss in community safety.

Rose Anne Dyson, Ed.D.
Chairperson, C-CAVE
Author of MIND ABUSE: Media Violence In An Information Age
Co-author of MEDIA, SEX, VIOLENCE and DRUGS in the GLOBAL VILLAGE and Terrorism, Globalization & Mass Communication