Politicized omission by the Canadian Press?

Check out this one-sided and politically editorialized article (not a column) from Jim Bronskill of the Canadian Press.

The article is titled “Gun registry valuable, police chiefs to tell Harper” and begins:

The head of Canada’s police chiefs says he will impress upon the new government the merits of the national gun registry, a much-maligned system the Conservatives have promised to scrap.

Jack Ewatski, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said he wants to open a dialogue on firearms with the ministers to be named early next month to the justice and public safety portfolios.

The head of Canada’s police chiefs seems to support the registry as evidenced here:

“We will certainly give this government some history relative to why we supported the gun legislation and gun control, including the registry, over the years,” Ewatski said in an interview.

“I think it’s imperative that we also provide some information to this government relative to the value of gun control programs within this country, including the registry.”

However, Jack Ewatski once opined,

“I, too, am concerned over the cost effectiveness of certain aspects of the bill (C-68) and I intend to seek clarification relative to costs that have been discussed in the media. … I do not believe in ‘blind support’ of anything and it is imperative I receive accurate information and then base my opinions on that alone.” — The Edmonton Journal, August 6, 1999. Page A1

Since 1999, we have learned that the gun registry has ballooned to approximately $2 Billion from its original $1 million estimate.

Let’s consider some other quotes from Canadian police officers that the article fails to acknowledge:

“We just can’t find any evidence … (that registering guns), especially in our rural areas, (is) going to really remove the guns from the criminals … Ten years down the road, we believe that it will not prove effective.”Greg McCullagh, head of the Saskatchewan Chiefs of Police Association, The Montreal Gazette, August 25, 1995

“Almost a quarter of people cops apprehend with guns are already prohibited from carrying firearms as a result of a previous conviction. … It’s quite apparent that for those individuals those prohibitions have very little effect”Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, Toronto Sun, August 5, 2005

“Our investigators are encountering situations where registration information isn’t accurate … It has to be cost-efficient, or else in our opinion, the money could be better spent.”Calgary chief of police Jack Beaton, Calgary Herald, June 2, 2004

“We have spent an extraordinary amount of money in this one area [the gun registry], but we haven’t given the same attention with regards to gun crime in our society.” Former Toronto chief of police Julian Fantino, Toronto Star, March 10, 2004

And while he acknowledged crime stats have been drifting lower for several years now, [Now former Toronto Police Chief Julian] Fantino said gun crime is a problem that just won’t go away. Just under 50%, or 17 of the 40 murders so far this year, have involved guns, and guns are involved in fully half of all armed robberies. Cops have seized more than 1,500 guns in 2003, averaging 42 a week. The federal gun registry, criticized for costing too much, has been of precious little help, he said. Fantino repeated his wish for mandatory 10-year sentences for gun-related crimes, tougher and more consistent bail and release conditions and an agreement with hospitals for automatic reporting of gunshot injuries. — Toronto Sun, September 27th, 2003

We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them … None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.Former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino, January 3, 2003

Ontario’s police chiefs have branded Ottawa’s controversial gun registry program an “unenforceable” mess and are warning that they will not charge people under the law until problems are resolved. “It puts us in a position where the law is unenforceable, so we’re advising our officers to use discretion and not issue offence notices until this mess is sorted out,” said Owen Sound police Chief Tom Kaye yesterday. Kaye is president of the 66-member Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. “It wouldn’t be right to charge someone when we wouldn’t have a reasonable chance of getting a conviction,” Kaye said. At a meeting in Halton Hills this week, the executive of the chiefs’ association voted to send a letter suggesting the federal government put the registry on hold until the problems are resolved. “When the registry was first proposed, the government came to us looking for support; if we are going to maintain that level of support, we want some answers about what’s going on,” Kaye said. — Toronto Star, January 25, 2003

“That’s something we’re struggling with as chiefs across the province. I don’t see (the need), given its massive costs. … the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police were assured that the program’s cost wouldn’t top $800 million and it is now nearly a billion and the deadlines keep changing. It’s nearly impossible to enforce. … [the money] would have been better spent working to bring criminals to justice and by funding joint force operations that police forces deal with daily and by providing the resources we need to deal with organized crime and criminals. … we’ve been registering handguns since 1933… Clearly, it’s not working.”Marshall Chalmers, Camrose Police Chief, The Camrose Canadian, February 2, 2003

“There’s a benefit if every single gun in Canada is registered … But the flaw in the whole thing is that criminals aren’t going to register theirs. I see some value in it, but the value I see, the amount of benefit, does not justify the amount of money spent on it. … Holistically, it started out as a good idea, but I’d never argue that our streets are any safer because of federal gun legislation.”Kingston Police Chief Bill Closs, The Kingston Whig-Standard, January 20, 2003

While we don’t always see eye-to-eye with London Police Chief Brian Collins, we were impressed with his reaction to the bungled federal long-gun registry in a meeting with The Free Press editorial board this week. He lamented that in letting the cost of the registry skyrocket from an initial $2 million estimate to $1 billion, Ottawa had brought “the administration of justice into disrepute . . . It’s such a disaster. They’ve made a mockery of it.” — The London Free Press, January 15, 2003

“The feds are spending (at least) a billion dollars to bring law-abiding citizens, not the criminals, under compliance. … The cost of the registry is abhorrent. But there are added costs of courts, clerks, and if people are sent to jail that will be another expense … it just continues – no one’s addressing it. … There’s little resolution provided by the government to address the criminal element – the criminals with guns … Those inclined to use guns will find a way to get to them … I’m a black-and-white-figures-type of guy – show me the money and I’ll believe it. … How do I enforce this? The truth is – I do not know. Do I start indiscriminately, asking for their guns or do we base it on information we receive (about illegal ownership)? … I do not like guns, I gotta tell ya. But I just see too many problems with issues surrounding the legislation, especially with enforcement.”Dennis W. Player – South Grey Bruch Police Chief, Hanover Post, January 8, 2003

Meanwhile, Borden-Carlton Police Chief Jamie Fox, in a statement issued to Island media outlets this morning, called the registry a massive waste of tax dollars that could have been spent on health care and other pressing social needs. — The PEI Journal-Pioneer, January 6, 2003

“Cops won’t hesitate to enforce Canada’s new gun registration laws – but they’ll need a clear picture of who’s breaking them … It’s a bad law, I’ll say that right now”Peter Kawalikak, President of the Alberta Federation of Police Officers, The Edmonton Sun, January 6, 2003

“The amount of money that has been spent on this registry would be better invested in front-line policing”Bruce Miller, spokesman for the Police Association of Ontario, Ottawa Citizen, December 5, 2002.

Reading the article in the Toronto Star, one would think that Canadian Police Chiefs are united in their support for the gun registry.

The gun registry is one of those issues that those with a summary view of politics get particularly rabid about when people oppose it. Like Kyoto is to the environment, the underlying issue of the gun registry (gun related murders) is one that everyone cares about regardless of political stripe. However, it is the ineffective bureaucracy and the failure of a system that must be acknowledged here.

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