Canadian gun registry

From Academic Kids

The Canadian gun registry is a government run registry of all guns in Canada. It was introduced by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien. It requires every fire arm in Canada to be registered or rendered in an unusable state. This was an effort to reduce crime by making every gun traceable. It also required gun buyers to take training courses on the safe usage of weapons.

While initial opposition to the registry came from the minority of Candians the opposition was vocal and supported by the American National Rifle Association and local Canadian gun groups. It was argued that the registry would not make Canadians safer and that it was only a step on the way to the confiscation of all guns in Canada. The provincial governments of Ontario and Alberta also attacked the bill arguing it exceeded the federal government's mandate, however the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the registry.

Canada had earlier had a gun registry during the Second World War, when all people were compelled to register their weapons out of fear of enemy subversion. This registry was discontinued after the war, however.

The Canadian Conservative Party remains committed to scrapping the registry if they are elected.

Cost overruns

The registry again became a political issue in the early 2000s when massive cost overruns were reported, the project which was meant to cost approximately 119 million dollars ended up costing over a billion dollars to implement. Documents obtained by the CBC now estimate the program cost at $2 billion.

In December 2002, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser reported that the project was running vastly above initial cost estimates. The report shows that the implementation of the firearms registry program by the Department of Justice has had significant strategic and management problems throughout. Tax payers were originally expected to pay only $2 million of the budget while registration fees would cover the rest. In 1995 the Department of Justice reported to Parliament that the system would cost $119 million to implement and that the income generated from licensing fees would be $117 million. This gives a net cost of $2 million. In comparison to the final estimated cost of $1 billion, the system cost more than five hundred times the initial estimate to implement. At the time of the 2002 audit the revised estimates from the Department of Justice were that the cost of the program would be more than $1 billion by 2004/05 and that the income from licence fees in the same period would be $140 million.

The Auditor General's report found other significant problems with the way the project had been handled. These include significant questions around the financial management of the project. In particular the report states that estimated project costs often excluded project costs incurred by other agencies, such as the RCMP and provincial governments, giving a false impression of real cost. Also issues are reported with how funds were requested from parliament, 70% of funds being requested through "supplimentary estimates" a method intended for unanticipated expenditures and requiring only a one line statement to parliament on the purpose of the request. In comparison only 10% of funds for all other programs in the department were requested in this way in that same period.

The causes of the cost overruns have been blammed on the inexperience of the Justice Department in managing a project of such scale. Especially crucial was that the scope of the project was in continuous flux requiring continuous changes to the basic set up of the registry.

Use of the registry

Despite the problems with the registry, police departments have reported that the registry is proving useful. Its most common use is to allow police officers to check if a home contains a weapon before responding to a call. It has also proved important in efforts to cut down on gun smuggling from the United States.

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