Gun registry said merely a licence to pry

What’s good for rifle owners should be good for all Canadians, says a Red Deer auctioneer who is a long-time opponent of the gun registry.

What’s good for rifle owners should be good for all Canadians, says a Red Deer auctioneer who is a long-time opponent of the gun registry.

Bud Haynes claims the gun registry is an invasion of privacy and that information on the forms is used to pry into gun owners lives, a point contested by Red Deer police superintendent Brian Simpson.

Haynes, founder of a family-owned auction house, estimates that he has sold between 150,000 and 200,000 assorted firearms during more than 40 years in business.

A former soldier and prison guard, Haynes said his fingerprints were already on file when he sought the permits necessary to consign those guns. In addition, he has answered the probing and deeply personal questions that face all applicants when they register their guns.

Questions include such details as whether or the applicants have been fired or passed over for promotion, whether they have an unstable emotional history or whether they’ve had trouble with alcohol, he said.

If keeping track of a rifle or shotgun owner’s fingerprints and personal information makes the country safer, then all law-abiding Canadians should be equally happy to submit the same information, Haynes told The Advocate.

On Sept. 22, federal Members of Parliament are slated to give third and final reading to Bill C-391, a private member’s bill that would to strike down Canada’s controversial long-gun registry.

People need to know what’s at stake if the long-gun registry is maintained, said Haynes.

Canadian statistics indicate that police officers entering homes or stopping vehicles in traffic use information from the long-gun registry about 5,000 times every day.

That’s 5,000 times per day that, somewhere in the country, a police officer is using the provisions of the registry to dig into a gun owner’s private business, said Haynes.

In most cases, the inquiries have nothing to do with firearms, and are used instead to provide police with access to a person’s personal information as well as the right to inspect their vehicles or search their homes, he said.

Along with giving the police a licence to pry, keeping those details on file provides new opportunities for clever criminals, he said.

“All of that information is open to any reasonably good hacker. There’s where the criminals can get their shopping lists. That’s why the gun collectors don’t like it.”

“We had a robbery here in Red Deer . . . five or six years ago, and the guy had all these automatic weapons and that’s how they found out that he had them.”

Supt. Brian Simpson, commanding officer of the Red Deer RCMP, confirmed that police use the gun registry as often as Haynes had stated.

But the amount of information they can actually glean is limited to the number and types of guns each person owns. Police have no extraordinary power of search and seizure in relation to gun owners, said Simpson. The same rules and procedures apply whether or not a person is a registered gun owner and all searches must hold up in court, he said.

“It’s part of protocol when an officer is dispatched to a residence. A CFRO (Canadian Firearms Registry) check is done to see whether there are firearms in that residence and whether there are issues relative to that.

“Not all police services are doing that, but I know we are, and that’s just a matter of course. It’s an officer safety, public safety issue.”

Simpson said if police are going to an alarm at a house where there is a break-in in progress, it’s nice to know whether there are weapons in the house.

“The good thing out of all of this, it’s really created increased public awareness around the issue. From that awareness comes knowledge and (with) the knowledge comes the safety element relative to handling firearms.”

In Canada, the majority of firearm deaths involve young people mishandling or accidentally discharging guns, said Simpson. Therefore, the increased awareness is a “great thing,” he said.