For Immediate Release: June 23, 2006
(Toronto) – Ontario’s Police Chiefs today joined police leaders from across Canada in expressing continued support for the federal gun registry, opposition to any legislative changes that would no longer require gun owners to register shotguns and rifles, and concern about the potentially negative impact of Bill C-21 on police efforts against illegal firearms.
“The OACP supports the position of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that an effective federal gun registry system is one of a variety of necessary tools used by police to promote public safety,” said Chief Armand La Barge, President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP). “We have backed the registry since its inception, particularly key components of the legislation establishing gun and ammunition storage regulations, tougher licence/training requirements. We strongly support changes to legislation to facilitate significant minimum sentences for the illegal possession and use of all firearms.”
The OACP maintains that the registration of all types of firearms promotes more responsible gun ownership and is a valuable resource for police. While efforts should be made to ensure changes are made that address the problems associated with the registry, police leaders do not support undermining the registry to the point where it will become less effective for police officers who use it in the course of routine checks and in preparation for specific interventions.
“The illegal possession and use of handguns, long-guns, and rifles to commit crimes poses a public safety challenge for communities in urban centres as well as rural areas of Ontario and Canada. Crimes are committed with all types of gun, not just handguns. Stopping the flow of illegal firearms onto our streets is a major priority for Ontario police services.” said La Barge, who noted that OACP has consistently advocated for reform of the criminal justice system to ensure that those who would possess illegal firearms or use them to commit crimes understand that real and significant consequences await them.
Chief La Barge reiterated that ensuring police officers having timely access to the information in the gun registry is important from both an officer and a community safety perspective. There are more than 7 million firearms in the gun registry, with the majority of these firearms consisting of rifles and shotguns. Police services across Canada use the registry more than 6500 times daily.