Mostly on the debate on the long gun registry…

In this post, I expect I will probably cover a few different things.   As usual it’ll be something of stream of consciousness anyhow, so I’ll probably ramble about a few things that are going on and are of interest to me, and we’ll just see where it goes.  It’s been an interesting little while in a lot of areas, so it’s not as though I have a shortage of things to weigh in on.  And I’ve got plenty of time since I’m up with the Missus waiting for The Tudors to come on, and she’s watching cooking shows.  Not exactly something that’s going to hold my interest.

I’m actually going to probably talk more about things going on in Canada, which should really make more sense, but since I seem to talk more about my outside opinions on American politics it may put some folks off.  Again, we’ll see how this turns out.

Canadian politics in general haven’t been that inspired lately, but I’m starting to get a higher than normal level of annoyance with a lot of things that have come out into the light lately.  I’ve not been any sort of avid fan of the current Government of Canada given that it consists of religious wingnuts, social conservative nutters, and so on.  We’ve been lucky for the fact that it’s been a minority government and therefore is kept basically in check by not having enough votes to push any of their more fringe ideas.  They’ve stayed in power primarily because the opposition has failed to present any sort of credible, decent opposition.  The Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, seems to have been effectively cast as being totally out of touch with ordinary Canadians.  And I’m not really even convinced that it’s because of some brilliant Conservative Party character assassination – his problem of perception is more of his effort.

That being said, there’s lots of things that are going to come back to haunt the Conservatives, I think.  At least, they could, if spun properly by the opposition.  There seems to be a strong effort to manage messages to the point that it looks like government meddling, as in the case of the RCMP officer in charge of the Canadian Firearms Program who was a huge advocate of the long gun registry who was shuffled off to French language training as the debate has heated up… not exactly good looking.  And they’ve done stuff like this in other cases.  It bears the hallmark of government meddling, not exactly a hallmark of the sort of “small government” that conservatives might normally be expected to advocate for.

So I’ll start with the Long Gun Registry.   I’ve posted about it before, though I can’t be bothered to go back to link posts… so I’ll work out my position as it is now, let’s just see.  As far as the concept goes, I’ve never really understood what the long gun registry was really going to accomplish.  A big spreadsheet of rifles and shotguns doesn’t seem to have much potential to stop crimes, at least not amongst other options.  It strikes me that there are better ways to spend the money.  Now, that being said, the money has been spent – or pissed away, depending on how you look at it, so I accept that there are not any substantial savings to be realized from the scrapping of the program under Candace Hoeppner’s private member’s bill that we really all know is a government bill that is being put out as a PMB to make it harder for opposition parties to whip their votes.

In most cases, the cops I know, so-called “front-line cops”, see little or no value in the registry concept.  Most of the hits recorded on the registry used to justify the existence seem to come from hits generated automatically by CPIC inquiries.  It doesn’t really impact how they do their jobs, and for the most part, any cop who would rely on such a database to determine their approach to a situation, where illegal firearms are not not recorded and the registry is believed to be riddled with errors, is an idiot.

As I see it, my concerns relate to the possibility of the information being compromised, providing would-be thieves with a “shopping list” or vindictive cops with an ability to abuse civil liberties (and if you want to say this won’t happen, talk to the people in Toronto who had cops show up to seize their rifles while they were in legal limbo sorting out their paperwork).  This has to be balanced against the utility of the system, and I’m not totally clear on that.   That said, though, if cutting down on useless bureaucracy is the aim, I think there might be some merit in looking at scrapping the unbelievably useless Authorization To Transport concept for restricted firearms, which is utterly pointless bureaucratic busywork.  This doesn’t seem to have been explored much.

The whole thing just seems like a political circus going off the rails, and if the opposition plays it right they may well be able to score some points, particularly amongst the vast ignorant city folk who ultimately seem to chart the course of the country.

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