Withheld report endorses system

The annual report from the Commissioner of Firearms, including a ringing endorsement of the federal gun registry, has been released after MPs voted to kill the long-gun part of the database.

OTTAWA — The annual report from the Commissioner of Firearms, including a ringing endorsement of the federal gun registry, has been released after MPs voted to kill the long-gun part of the database.

The undated annual report for 2008 says Canada’s firearms program sets an international standard and is being copied by other countries.

There were more than 3.4 million checks of the online registry by Canadian police agencies in 2008, up from 2.5 million in 2007 and 2.4 million in 2006.

While much of the public debate over the long-gun registry has focused on crime fighting, the report notes the registry “contributes to public safety in three ways” — including holding gun owners accountable for their weapons and helping trace stolen guns to their rightful owners.

Critics of the registry for rifles and shotguns say it targets hunters and farmers while doing nothing to deter criminals, but the report sites specific case examples when dangerous individuals were apprehended using information found in the registry.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan refused to make the report public until two days after Wednesday’s vote, saying there was nothing new in it.

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