Firearm registration in Canada may misfire

Canada's controversial firearms registry requires all gun owners to be licensed by January 2001, and all firearms registered by January 2003.

However, the registry has experienced huge cost overruns and has negative consequences for all Canadians' individual freedoms, says a new study by Canada's Fraser Institute.

  • The federal government claimed it would cost no more than $85 million (CDN) over five years to implement firearm registration – but the cost of setting up the registration bureaucracy has already passed $600 million and is expected to reach $1 billion in 2001.

  • The number of employees working on firearm registration grew from under 100 in 1995 to over 1,700 in the year 2000; meanwhile, the number of police officers in Canada has declined by over 10 percent since 1975 on a per capita basis.

  • The ratio of police officers to population is at its lowest point since 1972.

    Although polls find over 80 percent of Canadians support registering firearms, public opinion shifts when people realise it will cost them, as taxpayers, a significant amount of money, or that it will divert government resources from more desirable programmes. Support drops to 50 percent when respondents are told it might cost $500 million to register firearms; it drops to around 40 percent when the trade-off is a reduction in the number of police officers.

    Canada has adopted several increasingly restrictive firearm laws, either restricting access to firearms, or prohibiting and confiscating arbitrary types of ordinary firearms. But there is no evidence they have actually reduced violent crime.

    Source: Gary Mauser, Misfire: Firearm Registration in Canada,>Public Policy Sources No. 48, March 2000, Fraser Institute, 4th Floor 1770 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6J 3G7, (604) 688-0221.

    For study

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