Sunday, August 29, 2004

1 million guns unregistered
Program a failure: Tory MP
By BILL RODGERS, Parliamentary Bureau Chief

More than 1 million guns remain unregistered in Canada, 18 months after a government-imposed registration deadline, a document released by the Canada Firearms Centre confirms. The total number of valid firearm licence holders who still haven't registered a gun stands at 406,834.

The admission is proof of "massive non-compliance and incompetence," fumed Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, who obtained the latest numbers through an Access to Information request.

The document, released yesterday, shows almost 620,000 firearms remain to be reregistered and there are more than 78,000 applications to register or reregister caught in processing or a backlog of the Firearms Information System.

The Firearms Centre, however, denies there's a backlog and says processing of applications occurs within days. It couldn't explain why its own information refers to a backlog.

Breitkreuz repeated his party's call for the Martin government to cut its losses and scrap the controversial registry.

"It has never been used to solve a crime or to prevent a crime or to improve the ability of the police to do their work. It's only the bureaucrats who are defending it," he said.

Thomas Vares, a spokesman for the Canada Firearms Registry, insists the program has been largely successful with more than 6.8 million of 7.9 million prohibited, restricted and non-restricted guns now registered across the country.

"That breaks down for licensing and for registration to a compliance rate that's approaching 90%," he said.

Breitkreuz isn't buying the positive spin saying, those stats demonstrate a failure in the management of the firearms program.

"It is simply not credible for the Liberals to claim that their billion-dollar registry is of any value whatsoever to police when it is missing so many guns," the Saskatchewan MP added.

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