Registry useful, confusion widespread: RCMP report

OTTAWA — An internal RCMP evaluation says the federal gun registry is a “useful tool” for police but there’s widespread confusion and misunderstanding about the firearms program.

OTTAWA — An internal RCMP evaluation says the federal gun registry is a “useful tool” for police but there’s widespread confusion and misunderstanding about the firearms program.

The report concludes the registry prepares officers for urgent calls, helps them trace weapons found at crime scenes and assists in keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable.

“It ensures police are better equipped to respond to, for example, a situation of domestic violence, assess potential safety risks and confirm the possible presence of firearms and their legal status,” the evaluation says.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the February 2010 evaluation, which examines the overall firearms licensing and registration program administered by the RCMP.

The reviewers recommend continuing the program, saying there is an “ongoing need” for promotion of public safety through the regulation of firearms.

“The majority of firearms in Canada are long guns. The majority of firearm deaths in Canada are caused by long guns,” says the evaluation. “Universal licensing and registration of firearms create an atmosphere of accountability. Knowing that individuals and businesses are accountable for their firearms and the use of them decreases the likelihood that an individual will misuse, traffic or commit a crime with a firearm.”

The evaluation notes there are “mixed feelings” among police about the registry. Some told the reviewers they always presume a firearm is present in a house, so consulting the registry is irrelevant when called to the scene. Some were concerned the registry wasn’t complete.

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, sponsor of the private bill, argued the report shows the long-gun registry is “wasteful and ineffective.”