OTTAWA — As it prepares to destroy millions of long-gun records, the RCMP says the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the registry will make it tougher to trace firearms used to commit crimes.
The process that will lead to deletion of rifle and shotgun records in the registry is underway — with the exception of Quebec files at the centre of a court action, said Cpl. Laurence Trottier, an RCMP spokeswoman.
"It is a complex IT project involving the destruction of a large amount of data that is part of an integrated database, and will take some time to complete."
The national police force also says repeal of the long-run registry means tracing rifles and shotguns linked to criminal investigations "will be more challenging and will require more in-depth police investigation."
Recently passed legislation ended registration of most long guns and directed the RCMP to permanently destroy more than seven million files on firearm ownership. This includes deletion of computer files as well as any relevant paper records.
Quebec wants to use some of the data to create its own registry, but the federal government refuses to share the records, prompting the province to go to court.
Trottier said a Quebec court order forbidding destruction of registry data from the province — at least for now — "has had an impact, but the process continues in such a way that the records associated to non-Quebec residents will be destroyed in accordance with (the legislation), and the Quebec records will be treated as required by the courts."
She was unable to say when actual destruction of the records might begin. Federal lawyers involved in the court case say no data will disappear before August.
The cost of destroying the records "will be absorbed by existing budgets," the RCMP says.
The Tories argue the registration of long guns is wasteful and unnecessary. However, they support the continued licensing of gun owners and registration of restricted weapons — mainly handguns — and prohibited firearms — mainly smaller handguns and fully automatic weapons.
Trottier declined to elaborate on how the long-gun registry’s demise will make it more difficult for the RCMP to track rifles and shotguns associated with crimes.
However, a newly released RCMP briefing note says eliminating the registry may delay criminal investigations, increase reliance on other countries for information, and hamper Canada’s ability to comply with international treaties.
The Canadian Firearms Program, administered by the RCMP, works with police on investigations and plays a role in tracing the illegal movement and criminal use of firearms both in Canada and abroad, according to the note obtained under the Access to Information Act.
The program also supports international firearms investigations and provides tracing services for illicit guns through the Canadian National Firearms Tracing Centre, added the note, prepared for incoming Commissioner Bob Paulson.
"The loss of information on non-restricted firearms may result in a disproportionate reliance on foreign countries, such as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to trace firearms to their point of entry into Canada."
The firearms program also manages thousands of court-ordered gun revocations and prohibitions, and the end of the registry could compromise the ability of police to guarantee that all rifles and shotguns have been seized from an individual, the note says.
It also underscores the fact the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police wrote Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last June, saying that repeal of the registry would reduce the ability of police to effectively trace long guns.
"Canada’s capacity to combat the illicit trafficking of these firearms and its ability to meet related international agreements may be significantly diminished," says the briefing note to Paulson.
Canada is signatory to two international conventions against the illicit manufacture and trafficking of firearms. It has also signed a politically binding international accord to enable states to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.
These international agreements, among other things, demand that Canada co-operate on firearms tracing and maintain adequate records, according to an internal Public Safety Department memo.
Ontario is registering long guns: Firearms lawyer
By Kris Sims ,Parliamentary Bureau First posted: | Updated:
OTTAWA – Ontario is telling sellers of shotguns and rifles to keep paper records of all the people who buy long guns at their stores — a move one firearms advocate is calling a “back-door” long-gun registry.
The province's chief firearms officer has gun sellers writing down buyers' names, numbers and addresses.
“The long-gun registry was used to target gun owners and confiscate their firearms. That was one of the reasons for scrapping it in the first place,”said Solomon Friedman, criminal defence lawyer who specializes in firearms law.
“What we see here is nothing less than Ontario creating a back-door registry.”
The feds scrapped the controversial long-gun registry in Canada when they passed Bill C-19.
“The passage of Bill C-19 ordered that all of the records of registration held by the chief firearms officer must be destroyed. This is a way of keeping that information,” said Friedman.
Friedman said that since businesses check for a federally-issued firearms license before they sell any kind of gun anywhere in Canada, keeping tabs on who owns what kinds of hunting rifles at the provincial level is excessive.
The province's chief firearms officer, however, sees things differently.
In a letter obtained by QMI Agency, superintendent Chris Wyatt, tells stores to continue keeping paper records. He goes on to say that license checks have changed with the end of the long-gun registry.
“I believe it is desirable and in the interests of public safety that firearms businesses and the Chief Firearms Office take all reasonable steps to ensure non-restricted firearms are transferred to licensed individuals only,” writes Wyatt in a letter dated April 10.
“Bill C-19 states that a person, which includes any business, may transfer a non-restricted firearm if the (buyer) holds a license authorizing (him or her) to acquire and possess that kind of firearm and if the (business) has no reason to believe the buyer is not authorized.”
It's the “no reason to believe” part that's worrying the Chief Firearms Office.
“The old way of doing it, you would show your firearms license, you'd say, 'I want to buy that shot gun,' they'd punch your licence number into the computer and the computer would tell the business whether you can have that firearm or not,” said Const. Wayne Johnson.
“Now, you can be a person with a prohibition, walk into a store, the store doesn't have to verify that you have a firearms licences. They just have to be satisfied that you have one.”
Friedman counters that the law's wording mirrors the Criminal Code in that police seize a person's licence when a prohibition is imposed and stores can check licences through an RCMP hotline.
Ontario cops enforcing 'backdoor' gun registry
By Jeff Davis, Postmedia News May 2, 2012
Ontario Provincial Police will continue to maintain records of all firearms sales and who bought them, but say this not an attempt to create a provincial long gun registry.
"This isn't a registry," said Staff Sgt. Steve Ridout, a spokesman for the Ontario Chief Firearms Officer. "It won't be on a central data base, and it won't be digitized."
Some, however, say Ontario police are flouting the will of Parliament, and creating a new provincial gun registry "by the backdoor."
Suspicion the OPP is creating a long-gun registry by another name was stoked by an April 10 letter circulated to all Ontario firearms businesses by Chief Firearms Officer Supt. Chris Wyatt.
In the letter, Wyatt says that according to his interpretation, the new federal legislation that dismantled the gun registry only requires gun vendors to stop collecting some information.
"Bill C-19 does not define record of registration," Wyatt writes. "The Chief Firearms Officer is taking the interpretation that a record of registration is the registration certificate number or a firearms registration number, only."
For decades, Ontario has required firearms vendors to maintain a government-issued ledger recording the make, model and calibre, as well as the name and firearms licence number of all purchasers. Despite the recent passage of Bill C-19, which ended the federal long-gun registry, Wyatt decreed that gun vendors must continue to record most of this information.
Wyatt's letter says gun vendors must keep these records, or have their licences revoked.
"Currently, all firearms businesses are required, as a condition of their licence, to maintain CFO issued ledgers for all classes of firearms, including non-restricted firearms," the letter says.
Firearms lawyer Solomon Friedman says the letter makes it clear that Ontario police, who opposed the destruction of the gun registry, are skirting the new federal law.
"He's using the backdoor by using his control over firearms businesses essentially to extort them into complying with a registry that the federal Parliament has rejected," he said. "If you read between the lines, he says 'I don't like the law Parliament passed, and I'm going to subvert it and maintain a provincial registry.' "
The approach the OPP is taking, Freidman added, is a sneaky one.
"At least Quebec is honest, and is going through the front door, as it were, and litigated this in court," he said. "The CFO wants to appear to be complying with federal law, but at the same time maintaining a hidden business registry of firearms."
Ridout said the purchasing ledger system must be maintained so the OPP can ensure that firearms businesses are not selling guns to people without licences. Police officers will perform an audit once every two years, he said, and inspect the ledger to determine whether any illegal sales have been made.
Friedman says this justification does not stand up, because the RCMP has set up a new toll-free hotline through which vendors can call to verify whether a purchaser holds a valid firearms licence.
How police will use the data in this "undercover registry" remains to be seen, Friedman said.
"Can the police continue to use it as an investigative tool, will you see it forming the basis of arrest warrants? Will it be used if firearms are reclassified and later confiscated?"
Ridout said the information contained in purchasing ledgers will not be compiled into a central database, and will therefore not be at the fingertips of the police. He said, however, that police will be able to use the data in court during prosecutions if they abide by the proper procedures.
"Like any other piece of privately held information, they would have to obtain the information through a search warrant," he said. "Just like any other criminal investigation, if the evidence was obtained legally and with judicial authority it would be a valid piece of evidence."
All provincial chief firearms officers met in February to discuss the ramifications of Bill C-19, Ridout said. He said there was agreement that ledger information should still be collected, and that other provinces will likely follow Ontario's lead.
"That was the interpretation the CFOs nationally were taking."
OTTAWA - The public safety minister has called on provincial chief firearms officers (CFOs) to put their back-door long-gun registries through the shredder. "To me it makes no difference whether you collect information on paper or electronically," Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, said Wednesday. "If C-19 covers that type of data, it is to be destroyed." http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews...09-114418.html
Back-door registry data must be destroyed: Toews
11:44 am, May 9th, 2012 DANIEL PROUSSALIDIS | PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
OTTAWA - The public safety minister has called on provincial chief firearms officers (CFOs) to put their back-door long-gun registries through the shredder.
"To me it makes no difference whether you collect information on paper or electronically," Vic Toews said Wednesday. "If C-19 covers that type of data, it is to be destroyed."
Bill C-19, which abolished the federal long-gun registry, included the requirement that all registry data be deleted.
This is the first time Toews has been specific that the law applies to the paper ledgers CFOs have demanded gun shops keep to collect the names and addresses of licensed long-gun buyers, along with the make, model and serial number of every unrestricted firearm purchased.
That's much of the same data once collected in the abolished federal registry.
CFOs have argued that they can keep the paper ledgers because they predate the federal registry, but Toews says that "doesn't make it lawful" to keep using them now that the federal registry has been abolished.
"These are individuals who enforce the Firearms Act," Toews said. "What legislative authority is there to collect this information? I'm unaware of that legislative authority."
Toews says he expects CFOs to act accordingly and stop collecting the data, but he wouldn't speculate on possible penalties for violators.
Meantime, the minister says current laws are sufficient to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
"You can't sell a firearm to a person who doesn't have a licence," Toews said.
Handguns continue to be federally registered in Canada.
Excellent. The rcmp is no different than any other bureaucratic leo... they want to have access to everything they can get access to, whether or not it means a thing in actually solving any crime. It's not about solving crime. It's about access... and control. Excellent decision to strip them of this information.
...Justin Trudeau’s weekend assertion that the long-gun registry was a “failure” is accurate. While the mechanics of the registry were made to work — albeit at prohibitive cost — the spirit of the policy is beyond redemption....The gun registry...belongs to a more recent and, in the eyes of many Liberals, prouder past. It should not lack for champions in the leadership line-up.... http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/219381-hebert-long-gun-registry-gone-but-not-forgotten
Harper says he won’t relax prohibited weapons rules
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government is unhappy with recommendations from its firearms advisory committee that would further relax the gun laws. Documents obtained by the Coalition for Gun Control reveal the committee advising Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wants some prohibited weapons, including hand guns and assault rifles, reclassified to make them more easily available. http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/222525-harper-says-he-won-t-relax-prohibited-weapons-rules