The Folly of Registration

New York City's Lesson    Canadian Minister Fuming

Registry millions over budget

Gunfight at the Canadian Corral

Dr. Michael S. Brown

June 5, 2000

NEWSMAX.COM-Americans breathed a sigh of relief this week as our national gun rights debate took a break from the overheated rhetoric of recent months. Much needed comic relief was provided by Rosie O'Donnell. The gun-hating talk show host admitted that she is protected by bodyguards armed with guns.

Unfortunately, things are not going as well for our Canadian cousins. A poorly crafted and mean spirited law called the Firearms Act (C-68) was forced through Parliament in 1994 by the ruling Liberal Party. In an ugly example of cultural warfare, the Liberals used falsified statistics to convince members of Parliament that Canada was suffering from an epidemic of gun violence. The result was a strict new law with Draconian penalties on gun owners.

The law passed despite the Justice Minister's inability to show that Canada's previous sixty years of handgun registration had prevented any crimes.

The law has two major parts, which are very similar to proposals by the American anti-gun lobby. The first phase requires all gun owners to obtain a license. They must comply by the end of this year or face up to ten years in prison. The second phase is the registration of all firearms, which must be complete by January, 2003. Again, the penalty for violations is up to ten years in prison.

As a final insult to honest citizens, the type of handguns most suitable for self defense are banned outright by C-68. Confiscation of these guns from law abiding owners will be easy due to the existing registration system, but criminals have never registered their guns and will not be affected. Apparently, Canadian criminals have a more effective lobby than the gun owners.

The Liberal sponsors of the law estimated start-up costs for the new system would be under 85 million dollars. So far, it has consumed over $300 million and massive annual operating costs are being predicted. Over 1,400 government workers have been assigned to the project. Despite this commitment of resources, the system is plagued by long delays and error rates as high as 90% have been reported by outside analysts.

Even if Canadian gun owners were planning to cooperate, the size and complexity of the task would be overwhelming. The gun owners, however, are not cooperating. Only 10% have turned in the lengthy application forms and many have announced that they will never comply with such an unfair law.

The Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association ( is planning organized civil disobedience. This new organization has grown from nothing to 16,000 members since it was founded in November of 1998. Their plan is to wait until the first gun owner is charged with failing to obey the new law. Then, tens of thousands of gun owners will present themselves at RCMP stations across Canada and announce that they are in violation of C-68.

Perhaps the Liberal politicians will send them all off to prison, but harsh action would harm the warm fuzzy image the party wants to project. There is a good chance the whole licensing scheme will collapse as firearms cases clog the courts and cost the Liberals their majority in Parliament. This is not certain, as they are masters at generating public support.

One Clintonesque tactic takes advantage of the fact that many license applications are rejected due to errors. The Liberals claim this represents the number of "potential criminals" who have been denied access to firearms as a result of the wonderful new law. They are obviously borrowing this tactic from the U.S. administration which has made similar false claims for the Brady bill.

Another useful gambit takes advantage of any change in the crime rate. If crime decreases, the Liberals will say that this proves the effectiveness of gun control and ask for even stricter anti-gun laws. If crime increases, they can say that the current law is inadequate and will still have a reason to ask for stricter laws. They probably think they can't lose.

The Canadian Supreme Court may invalidate the law. If not, a moment of reckoning will occur sometime after January 1, 2001. Americans could learn a lot from this episode, but our media has historically ignored both Canadian affairs and anything that shows the failure of gun control. A priceless lesson is likely to be wasted.


The Canadian Firearms Act

Member of Parliament Garry Breitkreuz

Failure of Canada's previous handgun registration system

Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association

The Canadian Firearms Centre

Reproduced with the permission of All rights reserved.


Gun registry is millions over budget 

Government admits massive cost overruns; 'This turkey cannot be made to fly'

The new federal firearms registry has cost taxpayers $327 million so far and is running up a yearly bill nearly 10 times higher than what the government forecast in 1995.

Despite the cost -- and with more than 1,000 police officers and bureaucrats working for the registry -- critics say it is unlikely the government will meet its Jan. 1, 2001, deadline for licensing all gun owners.

Even the Canadian Firearms Centre admits that as of February, only 142,324 new licences had been issued to gun owners across Canada since the registry started in December 1998. A further 270,000 valid licences remained from the previous gun-control regime.

The centre estimates there are 1.6 million gun owners to be licensed by the end of the year, with the backlog of applications already up to 45,000.

"What will it take for them to realize that this turkey cannot be made to fly?" asked Dave Tomlinson, Edmonton-based president of the National Firearms Association. "It's a complete waste of money because there is no way on earth to keep a registration system accurate."

The Canadian Firearms Centre this week released to the Citizen the cumulative cost of the system up to March 31. The figure confirmed the fears of Canadian Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz, a staunch foe of the Firearms Act, that the cost of the national registry will exceed the forecast that former justice minister Allan Rock made in 1995.

Mr. Rock then estimated a five-year price tag of $185 million, including a one-time startup cost of $85 million.

The government spent $45 million before the registry began, Jean Valin, head of public affairs for the Firearms Centre, said yesterday.

"There was some relatively small amounts that were spent in the early years in preparations, consultations, design sessions, consultations with groups," he said.

By the end of March 1999, only four months into the registry, the federal government had spent another $82 million, according to figures released by Mr. Valin. The government spent a further $200 million on the registry in the past 12 months.

Mr. Rock's 1995 estimate, based on the cost of the previous gun-control system, put the average yearly cost of the new registry at about $20 million.

Mr. Valin said the cost of the system will decrease once all gun owners and their weapons are licensed and registered. "As you load up three million people and seven million guns, you're going to incur extra operating costs that won't be there after," he said.

Gun owners have until Jan. 1, 2003, to register all their firearms.

The number of gun owners and the total number of firearms in Canada is under dispute.

Based on international averages and past Canadian records, the National Firearms Association estimates 6.5 million gun owners and 20 million firearms. The government estimates three million gun owners and up to seven million firearms.

Mr. Tomlinson said the Justice Department continues to underestimate the number of firearms owners to make the federal registry appear successful once the registration deadlines pass.


Ontario minister fumes over gun registry costs: Spend on prevention

OTTAWA - A senior minister in the Ontario government has sent a strongly worded letter to Anne McLellan, the federal Justice Minister, pointing out that money spent on the contentious gun registry could have paid for 1,900 new front-line troops.

David Tsubouchi, the Solicitor-General, wrote to Ms. McLellan after the National Post revealed that the cost of the registry soared to almost $300-million since the gun law came into effect last December.

Justice Department officials acknowledge Ottawa spent $195-million to set up the registration system at the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, N.B., and a separate facility in Montreal, even though the government had said it would only cost $85-million, spread over five years.

In addition to the start-up costs, the government estimates it will cost $100-million this fiscal year and a similar amount annually over the next two years to operate the system until it is functioning smoothly. Once that happens, the operating budget is to average $60-million over a 10-year period.

"Your government has already spent almost $295-million on the registration system," Mr. Tsubouchi complained in the Nov. 10 letter, which was also sent to the National Post.

"To put this in perspective, Ontario is investing $150-million into helping police services hire up to 1,000 new front-line officers on the streets of our province ... It means that the $295-million your government is spending creating a large bureaucracy and red tape could have been spent on almost 1,900 new front-line officers."

Rather than waste vast amounts of money on "this large bureaucratic machine," Mr. Tsubouchi urged Ms. McLellan to scrap the registration system and rewrite the Firearms Act to tighten up penalties for criminals using guns in the commission of a crime.

The Ontario government has joined five provinces -- Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia -- as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories, in a Supreme Court of Canada challenge to the constitutionality of the gun law, which forces gun owners to license and register all of their firearms.

The law requires an estimated three million owners of seven million guns to obtain licences and photo ID cards by Jan. 1, 2001. A possession licence costs $10 but the price will jump to $45 on Dec. 1. An acquisition licence to buy more guns costs $60, renewable every five years.

On Jan. 1, 2003, gun owners will also have to register all their firearms at a cost of $10 with the fee rising to $18 in subsequent years. There is also a $25 transfer fee for selling a firearm.

"We recognize the importance of keeping firearms out of the hands of violent criminals. It is one our most urgent priorities. However, criminals do not register guns and bureaucratic registeries will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Mr. Tsubouchi said.

TRUEPATRIOT OPINION: If it cost almost $300-million for registration in one province of Canada imagine how much it would cost to set one up here. I think the cost would be in the tens of billions of dollars to set up a national license system. Also this will do nothing but let the government know where the law-abiding citizens with firearms are. The criminals however will keep their firearms without fear of the government later using this system for firearm confiscation.


Firearms Registration: New York City's Lesson

In their hearts, advocates of "gun control" desire gun prohibition; they promote every "gun control" measure as a "reasonable" step that supposedly would not infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens to shoot, hunt, or protect themselves from violent crime. Anyone inclined to trust these claims would be wise to study the history of firearms registration in New York City.

In 1967, Mayor John V. Lindsay signed into law a rifle-shotgun registration ordinance passed by the New York City Council. Under that law, every person who possessed or would later possess any rifle or shotgun in New York City had to register it by make, model and serial number, and obtain a permit to possess it. The fee was set at $3.

City Councilman Theodore Weiss, sponsor of the bill, solemnly promised that the $3 fee would never be raised, but that the city would always bear the brunt of the real costs of administering the law. Seeking to allay firearms owners' fear of registration, the firearms-prohibitionist New York Times editorially vowed the bill "would protect the constitutional rights of owners and buyers. The purpose of registration would not be to prohibit but to control dangerous weapons."

Interestingly, just after the bill became law, another New York Times editorial entitled "Encouraging Rifle Registration," opposed Mayor Lindsay's proposed amendments to increase the fee to $10, or to $25 as he had originally proposed. The Times for December 16, 1967, expressed concern that "too-high license fees right off the bat would undermine effective operation of the law. The idea is to get maximum registration for the public safety."

Notice the expression "right off the bat." What about later on? Well, today, the fee is $55, an increase of over 1,700%!

Most significantly, just before the rifle-shotgun bill became law in 1967, Vincent L. Broderick, a former New York City police commissioner who was later awarded a federal judgeship, testified at a city council committee hearing on the bill that the philosophy underlying the bill was "all wrong." According to Broderick, that philosophy assumed that all law-abiding citizens somehow had a "right to own shotguns or rifles." Broderick then added: "There should be no right to possess a firearm of any sort in 20th Century New York City, and unless good and sufficient reason is shown by an applicant, permission to possess a gun should not be granted." This was all reported in the New York Times for October 17, 1967. How prophetic!

In 1991, the New York City Council, at the prodding of Mayor David N. Dinkins, went further than Broderick. It passed, and the Mayor signed into law, a flat ban on the private possession of certain semi-automatic rifles and shotguns -- namely, certain imitation or look-alike assault firearms (New York City Administrative Code, Sec. 10-303.1). The ban was flat in the sense that it applied regardless of reason or need for the firearm -- and it was passed despite then-Police Commissioner Lee Brown's testimony that no registered "assault weapon" had been used in a violent crime in the city.

The year after the ban was enacted, a man's home in Staten Island was raided by the police after he had announced that he would not comply with the city's ban. He was arrested, and his guns were seized.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) had notified the 2,340 New Yorkers who had been licensed earlier to possess semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that any of those licensed firearms that were covered by the ban had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable or taken out of the city. The recipients of the notification were directed to send back a sworn statement indicating what had been done with those firearms.

The NYPD has reported that the majority of these previously-registered imitation assault firearms -- 2,615 out of 3,360 -- have been taken out of the city. In addition, the department's deputy commissioner of legal matters, Jeremy Travis, told the Daily News: "for now, the department is taking owners at their word, but spot checks are planned."

This deplorable New York City saga shows that those of us who had opposed the concept of registration back in 1967, and were labeled "paranoid," were not only not paranoid but also not impractical. For the New York City story quite vividly shows the nationwide plan abart to destroy the civil right and liberty to keep arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment and by other provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, notably the Ninth Amendment.

The plan is now obvious to all who would see: First Step, enact a nationwide firearms waiting period law. Second Step, when the waiting period doesn't reduce crime, and it won't, then enact a nationwide registration law. Final Step, confiscate all the registered firearms.


Last update: March 22, 2005