A little-noticed report from just about a year ago concludes that as many as 80% of on-duty police officers in Canada access the country's on-line "gun-registry" to check for weapons while responding to 9-1-1 calls.
However mixed messages from Prime-Minister Stephen Harper's Government since it was first elected in January 2006 have both confused the country's gun-owners and jeopardized the integrity of the program. Perhaps putting front-line police officers at even greater risk.
The issue is that one of the first matters of legislative business tabled by the Conservatives in 2006 was/is a still un-debated law to scrap the Federal Gun Registry...and in the intervening years the same Government has extended until 2010 an amnesty which aims at coaxing gun owners into renewing their licences - It waives licence fees and provides liability protection for those who comply with the law. Yes! The same law that the Tories want to scrap. Go figure!
And figuring (I guess) is what gun-owners have been doing...The result is that more than 25% have just given-up renewing expired licences. About 20,000 this year so far of the 73,000 licences set to expire. In total last year (2008), 66,000 out of about 300,000 permits that ran-out. Obviously as more firearms owners opt-out of licensing because they take the Government on its word that it will dismantle the registry, the system becomes less and less dependable for front-line police officers rushing to 9-1-1 calls.
Critics claim that is why the Tories chose the backwaters of August 2008, when politicians were away in their ridings to table the survey of Police Officers in an empty House of Commons. The report supports the high-rate of police use of the online registry during service calls, and is really central to the battle of the last three years over the amnesty, between supporters of the gun registry and Prime Minister Harper's red-neck charged "political statements" to dismantle the program.
Perhaps because they fear political reprisals of one form or another, one big surprise is that neither representatives of the Canadian Police Association, and/nor the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is prepared to comment on the survey of their own front-line policemen. Though to be fair the Police Chiefs say they continue to support the gun-registry.
Perhaps what these groups need is the backbone of a gun-toting evangelistic charismatic leader like Louisville, Kentucky Pentecostal Pastor, Kenneth Pagano. The Reverend Pagano recently asked his flock to bring their handguns to the New Bethel Church for a celebration of America's "Second Amendment". About 200 of the "converted" converged in the church's sanctuary on June 27 to hear the message of Pastor Pagano's - "Open Carry Celebration" - "If it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, this country (The USA) would not be here today" - The Reverend said, drawing hearty applause and exclamations of "Amen!"