“A license tells us a person can have a gun” Chief Bob Herman

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THUNDER BAY – Ontario’s Chiefs of Police and senior police leaders backed the federal Firearms registry today as a vital public safety tool used daily by police officers to keep Ontarians and police officers safe.

“Police have no interest in criminalizing those who don’t register long guns, but the licensing of firearm owners isn’t sufficient,” said Chief Robert Herman (Thunder Bay Police Service), the OACP’s First Vice-President. “A license tells us a person can have a gun. The registry tells us what guns that person has. There is a huge difference – a difference that could put the lives of citizens and our officers in great danger.”

Calgary Police Chief Rick Hansen says what most opponents of the federal gun registry have asserted since it was first proposed. “The gun registry has done little to make the streets safer.”

“It’s not helping. The guns these people have, they don’t register, they don’t care, they’re probably stolen, they’re probably obtained illegally, in many cases they’re prohibited,” states Hansen.

Hanson says that his officers use the registry as an investigative tool, but not something that they will bet their lives on when responding to a call. It is a claim many frontline police officers make when asked.

That contrasts with the official line from the Ontario Chiefs, and from other groups of Police Chiefs.

“Scrapping the federal Firearms Registry will put our officers at risk and undermine our ability to prevent and solve crimes,” said Chief Daniel Parkinson (Cornwall Community Police Service), President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) following a meeting of Ontario’s police leaders in Windsor, Ontario. “Our officers use the Registry because it is a vital tool in our efforts to prevent and solve crimes. Canadians need the facts about the Registry, not rhetoric. The bottom line is that the Firearms Registry helps us keep our communities safe.”

The OACP Board of Directors passed a motion confirming support for the Firearms Registry at its meeting in Windsor and called on Canadian Parliamentarians to put public safety ahead of partisan politics and reject a Private Member’s Bill which would effectively scrap the federal Firearms Registry.

Chief Parkinson stressed that Ontarians and Canadians need to know that police officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.

One of the often repeated claims from proponents of the gun registry is that police officers use the registry 11,000 to 14,000 times per day.

Greg Farrant from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters states, “Equally misleading is the assertion that in 2009 the long gun registry was consulted by police 11,000 times per day. Based on the RCMP’s own figures, in 2003 the registry specific inquiries represented 8.2 percent of the total queries to the Canadian Firearms Registry Online (CFRO). By 2008, the number of inquiries specific to registered firearms represented only 2.4 percent of the approximately 3.5 million inquiries into the database. Using ‘hits’ as the defining statistic is misleading since the registry is consulted each time an officer does a background check for non-firearms occurrences”.

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