The following letter was published on July 3, 2009, in the Guelph Mercury newspaper. The letter was written in response to another published submission speaking out against Canada’s Firearms Act and asserting that the registry does not prevent crime. It was written by Dr. Barbara Kane, a psychiatrist based in Prince George, British Columbia, who has worked in the field for many years.
The letter does an excellent job of describing why the registry is useful and should be maintained. Rather than adding more commentary, I’m going to let it speak for itself.
Canada’s gun registry has proven very useful
GuelphMercury.com – Opinions – Canada’s gun registry has proven very useful.
Dr. Barbara Kane
Dear Editor – I am writing in response to a recent letter stating that the gun registry had not solved or prevented a single crime.
As a psychiatrist in a rural area where guns are prevalent, I have invoked the gun registry at times where it is necessary, to either get someone’s guns removed or prevent them from getting guns because of mental illness. I am sure this has prevented tragedies but, unfortunately, none of those events make headlines.
I practised psychiatry in Prince George, B.C., before the gun registry was available, and it was difficult then to have guns removed.
There have been some 22,000 licences denied to date, and a recent Ottawa Citizen article reported that the number of firearms surrendered and confiscated since Nov. 1 is 8,281 — 74 per cent of which were nonrestricted shotguns and rifles. The same article reports that the reason for these confiscations is usually that the individual has threatened or used violence.
So, are we really comfortable with allowing these people to arm themselves by removing the mechanism which allows authorities to locate and remove firearms, the long-gun registry?
It is impossible to truly measure the prevention of suicides, accidents and crimes. However, we can measure rates of all these over time. We know the incidence of gun deaths and injuries are at their lowest levels in more than 30 years. Since 1995, the rate of homicide with rifles and shotguns has dropped by 50 per cent, and gun-related murders of women have fallen by two-thirds.
The gun registry is an inconvenience for hunters, farmers and other gun owners, but it helps people like me and the police prevent tragedies.
Since gun owners are only required to register their firearms once per gun, it is a minor inconvenience that is having a major impact on gun crime, suicides and accidents, perhaps more than any other intervention we have. The registry needs to be preserved.