The Toronto Star and the Canadian Press are reporting that hundreds of thousands of gun owners in Canada, possibly at least one third of all Canadian gun owners, have yet to register their firearms under the new Canadian mandatory gun registration scheme. So far, the Star reports that noncompliance has forced the Canadian government to waive registration fees for a period of time, as a form of encouragement. The costs of the program, meanwhile, have spiraled up many times higher than anticipated. The Canadian Firearms Centre is preparing to send out reminder letters to those hundreds of thousands of gun owners who have yet to register their firearms. Guns must be registered by January 1, 2003. Possession of non-registered guns can lead to five years in prison and other charges under the Firearms Act or the Criminal Code.
Pro-gun activists in Canada are hinting that "holdouts" are not likely to comply anytime soon, so the government may be facing the grim prospect of having to arrest, try, convict, and imprison some 667,000 "lawbreakers."
As the Press reported: Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz believes the gun registry will have trouble convincing the holdouts. "If they didn't capture these people during their stay-out-of-jail sale, then I don't know how many would still comply with the law," Breitkreuz said.
The law does little to curb gun use by criminals, and criminals are obtaining firearms easily illegally, or in some instances legally. At a recent Hell's Angels trial in Montreal police confirmed that a handgun and three pump action shotguns found in the home of convicted killer Maurice "Mom" Boucher were apparently acquired legally, despite the registration and licensing scheme. Meanwhile, Native Americans in the Northwest Territories run short of regulated ammunition needed for hunting and feeding their families.
"Registration and licensing doesn't work in Canada, and it wouldn't work here,
" CRPA spokesman Chuck Michel said. "It is a waste of money. Put more police on the streets, then they can go after the people who are really committing the crimes."
In response to criticism, Canadian's gun ban lobby is now hedging on what they had promised that the law would accomplish. Instead of reducing crime, or making people safe, spokesperson Wendy Cukier now claims that "...Strengthening control means reducing the risk that guns will be misused. It doesn't guarantee they won't be misused..." Cukier also noted that, out of the estimated 1.4 million gun owners who have applied for registration, some 4000 have been either denied or have had their permits revoked. That's a whopping 0.3% of all gun owners in Canada, further proving that the vast majority of gun owners tend to be law-abiding......