Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just a thought...

With all the hub-bub over the long gun registry, my partner and I were discussing other ideas. Since some people seem hell-bent on this as a safety concern, why not put a code on ammunition instead? That's something that can be done at industry level, does not require a huge team of officials to comb through reams of paperwork for hopeful gun owners, and the added cost of applying a serial number to each individual bullet may up their cost per box but would be the choice of the gun owner (to buy or not to buy, to shop around, etc). Guns do not kill people - bullets fired by people kill people. A collector who is not interested in arming himself to the teeth would be largely unaffected by serial numbers placed on each bullet. A person who owns a weapon and purchases ammunition for it would know that if he/she decided to fire it unlawfully, their name would practically be right on the bullet left at the scene. Maybe that would cause some people to stop and think before pulling that trigger? This could also help with poaching cases, such as those in Alberta who have been targeting the wild horses up north and leaving their bodies to rot - bullets right there for the authorities to check (but currently it doesnt help much unless you have the gun it was fired from).

No it does not solve all problems, there would still be a black market going on and we really cant stop that. But would it put a huge dent in crimes if every person knew that every bullet had a specific code on it, traceable back to them from the date of purchase? Right straight back to them?

Currently, it is my view and the view of police officers I personally know, that having a long gun registry does not help them when approaching a potentially dangerous situation. They can NEVER assume that a household is gun-free just because an address doesn't highlight on their screens as a registered gun owner. They can NEVER assume safety for themselves or onlookers. They might have some forewarning, but there are so many guns available and hanging around, they have to approach each situation with caution regardless of what the registry data in their computer tells them. So what does the gun registry actually do for safety? People can still get guns if they really want, and avoid the whole registration process. And they can buy ammunition whether they own a gun or not. So why not brand each actual deadly weapon - the bullet - with a serial number and have that information logged publicly. I know that is not ideal and many would still balk - but if politicians are hell bent on using the long gun registry as a talking point for election or re-election, why aren't we hearing of alternatives? Is it worth such a massive money-drain on our tax system if it doesn't actually DO anything to protect police officers or the public?

Another note - I saw on the news and read in the paper recently that something upwards of 72% of gun crimes in Canada are committed with 'long guns'. When you see that, you think HOLY CRAP! I had no idea! But then you realize that there were no other statistic numbers associated - nothing said that there were xxx number of deaths or xxx number of robberies. So we don't know if there were 15 murders and 72% of those were committed with long guns, or if there were 215 murders, or 2315 murders... you get the picture - AND the article DID NOT SAY if those weapons/offenders were registered either. Wouldnt that be important information? Did the registry come in handy for any of those cases at all? Why was none of that information included in the article? They choose the scare-factor number of 72% and hope readers/viewers are too stupid to think a bit outside the box.

And sadly, too many ARE too stupid.

8 comments:

  1. Nice idea. The first objection you'll hear is that bullets deform on impact which would ruin a serial or barcode. Its possible that a chemical serial number can be included in the bullet that would survive impact or even a fire. Perhaps that you would futher require that ammo be sold by the box and the serial number would apply to the batch. Make it easier on the manufacturer.

    The other thing is that I think the long gun stat applies to deaths by long gun including accidents and suicides, not strict armed crimes.

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  2. 1) People can make their own bullets.
    2) Bullets are heavily damaged on impact which would make reading a serial number difficult.
    3) Anybody could just scratch off the serial number.

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  3. So you'd replace the gun registry with a bullet registry?

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  4. Good points. It's not meant to be a perfect solution, it's another alternative I do not hear talked about at all.

    2nd anonymous - they can track food down to the store each item was sent to in case of food poisoning, contaminents, etc and have been doing that for a very long time, so why not with ammunition, IF INDEED the supporting politicians really want it for 'safety' reasons.

    1st anonymous: very true, we will never be able to control people because hey, people don't like to be controlled. Or many don't. They will always find ways to go around any obstacle put in their path, however right now the registry is costing ALL Canadians millions of dollars that could be better spent elsewhere, and we have no real say in the matter. Is that the right way to go about things?

    As for serial numbers being removed or damaged, yes that is a possibility (as with the guns themselves) however the number could be placed on the inside, or contact ballistics experts who do the job of identifying and matching bullets and see what they think would be a good way to mark bullets by the batch number.

    For the registry itself, the only people who are going to follow the rules are those who are honest and law-abiding. The cost to them and tax payers in general appears to exceed the usefullness of this program. If it truly is about safety, why do they think this still works?

    When my dad passed away, we had 5-7 rifles and a magnum handgun in the house. They had not been registered, even though my father had been employed by the Province for over 25 years. He did not believe in it and was very careful with his rifles so they would not fall into the wrong hands. He died when I was 23 and I could not believe we had a handgun in the house all that time and I never knew about it lol. But does that make him a CRIMINAL? In the eyes of the law, yes he was. And as co-home-owner, it made my mother a criminal too. By not registering the weapons, she could have been in heaps of trouble. A nice widow who had never fired a gun in her life, had no idea where the ammunition even was, but would have had the hand of law come down on her hard for what was found in his illegal cabinet (glass doors, wooden frame, filled with unregistered firearms). What sense does that make? Instead of bothering to go through the hassle of registering weapons with no sales records and too much cost and time waiting, we called the police to take them away. ONE officer came alone to our door, despite knowing there were more than half a dozen guns there.

    What's the point of THAT exactly? lol. Even knowing there were UNregistered weapons, a lone officer came. I must have sounded pretty sincere on the phone "my dad died, he had lots of guns, mom doesn't want them, please come get them" lol. But seriously, is she a criminal for housing rifles like that? PLEASE! So even those with unregistered long guns or any other gun, for that matter, are not automatically seasoned criminals with ill intent. Those who do register are the least likely to use their weapons for an offense. So why bother with the registry at all?

    If perhaps someone offered another means to track things, such as ammunition, since you need it to kill someone with a gun, wouldn't that seem more cost effective than spending millions or billions of dollars finding out who the HONEST citizens are?

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  5. ps it seems that people are just getting too accustomed to needing a license/permit to do just about anything these days. Vehicles, fishing, boating, hunting, etc. And more rules get added. you have to have a license plate and yearly registration of your vehicles, instead of just a one time thing when you first buy a car; instead of just a fishing license you also now need a WIN (wildlife identification number or whatever); hunting you need a license and then you need to register your rifle(s); you have to carry your driving license with you at all times in the car now or you can face a fine for that (instead of the former time-limit giving you a grace period to produce it at the police station); permits for all sorts of jobs now, safety tickets for every aspect you could imagine (even driving an old beat up fork lift truck around your family's warehouse); and the list goes on. So I guess with guns being so scary (tho vehicle accidents kill FAR more people and registering/licensing hasnt stopped that much obviously), people think it's okay that millions is spent on registering the honest folk's guns :)

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  6. Btw in case you are skeptical about a chemical serial, they already use it with some explosives and fertilizer.

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  7. thanks :) I have heard about it, I'm sure, but really don't know much about it lol. It sounds like a plausible idea, which in itself would act as a deterrent to at least some people who may be trying to get away with a crime. Not only would they have to purchase 'unlawful weapons', but they would have to try to get around the ammunition tagging. Yes, people will get around it and I am aware of that - but for the regular average citizen who makes the decision to commit a crime, they are not going to be able to get that stuff so readily.

    I just look at the registry and shake my head. When I was a decade younger, I didn't really THINK about it. I just heard the word gun and thought 'yeah, those are dangerous, they should be tracked better'. Being an honest person, I didn;t really THINK about how there are many people out there who would just get their hands on illegal/unregistered weapons anyway. Or already had guns in their collection, or were given guns by an ailing grandparent/parent that were not registered. Etc etc... I lived for 2 years with an ex who had two hunting rifles in the basement and never bothered to register them. He too would have been in kaka if he was ratted out. What is the point of that?

    A farmer who keeps one on his property to scare away coyotes, or to go out and practice shooting for fun sometimes - does his rifle NEED to be registered? What difference does it really make to public safety in the end? If it's the ammunition inside the rifle that poses the greatest threat, perhaps that should be where their sights are focused.

    There would not have to be a team of people going over application forms and delving into your past history, license fees, etc going to other teams of people that our tax dollars pay the wages of. There could be a computer program to dump the names and addresses of ammunition purchases along with the code which of course would cost money, but not near as much as is currently being spent.

    I don't necessarily agree with that either, but I am putting it forward to those who support the gun registry after watching Ignatief pontificate so strongly in recent months about it. I put it to the RCMP who believe they are doing a better job of handling the program than those before them did. I put it to the police chiefs who claim to support the registry whole heartedly. They do not seem to make a valid strong argument as to why and how the registry is worth the cost, and do not seem to entertain other ideas and the public must surely wonder about that.

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  8. I should add as a disclaimer that being in alberta, my parents would not have been prosecuted for having those unregistered rifles, but that brings us to yet another issue - the federal govt trying to order the provinces to follow this program. If 2 or 3 refused to prosecute those who were found with unregistered hunting rifles, what is the point of the program at all? I believe Alberta and Ontario were in on this, and possibly BC but I cant recall that one for sure. All it is to them is a meal ticket - except the meal ticket fees came no where near close to paying for the cost of the program anyway. Money drain for pretty much no real reason. We have more important issues going on here, in my opinion.

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*Disclaimer

These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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