Gun-laundering registry a farce: One billion dollars a big investment for national firearms lost and found
Wes Winkel, the manager of Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods in Orillia,Ont., --
> "For all your hunting, shooting, fishing and camping needs" -- says "OPP
> officers were laughing their heads off," when they came this week to
> confiscate a hunting rifle from his store, just "two minutes north of
> Weber's barbeque restaurant," on Route 11.
> OPP stands for Ontario Provincial Police, the force that polices rural
> Ontario the way the RCMP polices much of Alberta outside the big cities.
> The rifle had been listed in the RCMP's national crime computers since it
> was reported stolen in Quebec in 1992. Still, the Liberals' national gun
> registry had registered it not once, nor twice, but three times. On the
> fourth, someone at the registry finally got around to matching the rifle
> the RCMP's list of heisted guns and prevented its re-registration;
> its re-re-re-registration.
> LEGAL REGISTRATION NO. 1
> A customer first brought the rifle to Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods in May,
> wanting to sell it. Winkel bought it and the customer gave him the gun's
> registration papers, which the RCMP said Friday were legitimate.
> Sometime before May the customer had bought the gun and registered it
> himself, even though the serial number matched one in the Mounties'
> stolen-goods database.
> LEGAL REGISTRATION NO. 2
> Winkel then called the Liberals' gun registry in Miramichi, N.B., and, as
> required by law, registered it to the sporting goods store, the gun's new
> owner. The registration went through without so much as a hiccup.
> LEGAL REGISTRATION NO. 3
> An avid hunter, Winkel then bought the gun for himself in late June and,
> again, registered it without incident.
> Far from keeping Canadians safe from gun crime, far from encouraging gun
> owners to lock up their guns ever more securely so as to discourage
> criminals from stealing guns to use in robberies, far from inducing a
> "culture of safety," the Liberals' registry is now laundering stolen
> giving stolen guns legitimate pedigrees and the proper papers to go along
> with them.
> When CanWest News broke this story on Friday, no spokesman could be found
> for Solicitor General Wayne Easter. So the country was denied the pleasure
> of the government's weasel-word excuse for a "hot" gun slipping through
> their allegedly airtight security blanket three times without detection.
> But let me hazard a guess of what the Liberals will say Monday about this
> embarrassing flaw in their vaunted, billion-dollar gun registry. They'll
> proclaim: "Look how well the registry worked! It actually identified a
> stolen gun and took it off our streets, thereby making Canada and
> Good thing the registry got four chances to "work" so well, though.
> If, at any earlier juncture in this story, any of the gun's three legal
> owners -- the original customer, Epps Sporting Goods or Wes Winkel -- had
> decided to hold on to the gun, then a stolen rifle would be out there with
> all the legal documents necessary to stay in circulation forever.
> But once Solicitor General Easter or his spokesthingy has put the best
> possible face on this gross incompetence, we will still be left with the
> question "How has this made Canadians any safer?"
> It is never a bad thing when property is returned to its rightful owner.
> returning it doesn't make Canadians safer: Stolen goods don't commit
> robberies; robbers do. Attempting to stop robberies by controlling stolen
> goods is putting the cart before the horse.
> One billion dollars also seems a frightful price to pay for a sort of
> national lost and found for firearms.
> If taxpayers are going to fork over a billion for an elaborate tracking
> system so gun owners can enjoy a greater chance of seeing guns returned
> after they've been stolen, then why not half a billion for a national
> collection registry, or $2 billion for a car stereo registry or a quarter
> billion for a Royal Dalton figurine database?
> Easter and the other supporters of the Liberals' registry also claim the
> registry will encourage legal owners to lock up their guns better, so
> criminals will have a harder time finding guns. Right. Just the way
> registering cars and locking them up prevents thieves from stealing them.
> Guns stolen from homes have never been a major source of weapons used in
> crimes, despite Ottawa's claims. The fact that handguns are now the murder
> weapon in nearly two-thirds of firearm murders in Canada proves that.
> Handguns have been subject to registration since 1934 and to tight
> control since 1977. Yet in just the past decade, handgun murders, as a
> percentage of total murders committed with firearms, have more than
> to over 60 per cent.
> The last time Statistics Canada compiled numbers in this way -- in 1991 --
> of all the murders committed in the entire country, the number committed
> with handguns that were once legally owned and registered in Canada, but
> longer in the possession of their registered owner, was three.
> Smuggling is the main source of Canada's crime guns -- not theft from
> private Canadian homes or sporting goods stores. Yet Ottawa puts almost no
> resources into stopping smugglers while putting a billion into harassing
> law-abiding duck hunters.
> Now, far from helping reduce gun crime by forcing every one to register,
> Ottawa is helping register stolen guns.
> No wonder the OPP officers were laughing. The registry is a farce.