Canada: "Gun owners aghast at [fake] anthrax attack" & "Gun owner sent five licen


January 4, 2003, 10:04 AM
Man, things are getting dirty up there.

From the Edmonton Journal

Gun owners aghast at anthrax attack
Prominent registry opponents say their lobby being framed: MAKES US 'LOOK BAD'

Rick Pedersen and Florence Loyie, Journal Staff Writers
The Edmonton Journal

Saturday, January 04, 2003
Opponents of gun control denounced the Edmonton anthrax scare Friday, with two organizations suggesting the incident is a smear to discredit the vocal campaign against gun registration.

"We do not agree with acts of terrorism," said Rod Dyck, vice-president of the Alberta Fish and Game Association and a prominent opponent of gun control.

A package addressed to the Canadian Firearms Centre leaked powder late Thursday night, shutting down an Edmonton mail sorting plant after testing equipment initially erred by identifying the powder as anthrax. Dyck questioned the motives of whoever sent the package.

"Nothing says this comes from a gun owner. It could have come from the other side. That is probably where it did come from -- from a radical group that is strongly opposed to guns. What better way to make us look bad?"

Jim Hinter, president of the Edmonton-based National Firearms Association, called on city police to "throw the book" at whoever sent the package through the Edmonton post office, on its way to the Firearms Centre.

"This could be someone trying to make firearm owners look bad," he said, after his organization contacted the Edmonton police to offer assistance.

"The NFA deplores this childish activity, Hinter said. "This is just foolish and unproductive."

Another movement leader called the Edmonton anthrax scare horrible.

"I abhor any activity like that," said Ed Hudson, a leader of the Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association, who was in Montreal for a noon protest against gun registration.

"Everything we have been doing is open, honest and responsible. Our civil disobedience is peaceful."

Businessman Harry Penner, 65, is refusing to register his rifles, as are Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths and Oscar Lacombe, the former sergeant-at-arms for the Alberta Legislature.

Penner called the anthrax hoax ridiculous.

"These are some nut cases or something," he said when he was interviewed at one of his businesses in Didsbury, south of Red Deer. "We are probably what you'd call redneck country but I don't know anyone who would do that."

Penner considers the firearms registry a bureaucratic waste of money and he visited the Didsbury RCMP Thursday to turn himself in, only to find the RCMP are not pressing charges until they receive instructions from Ottawa.

Meanwhile, tests were still being done Friday to determine the nature of the white substance found in the letter. The discovery of the letter Thursday night forced authorities to quarantine 150 city postal workers for several hours over fears they were exposed to anthrax.

Workers at the west-end postal facility noticed dust rising into the air after some envelopes had gone through the sorter. Emergency crews were called and employees were kept inside, while the replacement shift workers were forced to stay outside.

Tests at the site ruled out that the powder was anthrax and everyone was allowed to go home shortly after 2 a.m. Friday.

The letter was taken to a University of Alberta lab and the identity of the white substance is expected in 24 hours.

"According to our tests, it's not anthrax,'' said Karen Carlson of the Edmonton fire department. But it's obvious the white powder was deliberately put in the envelope by someone.

This incident follows four anthrax scares this year at the Firearms Centre in New Brunswick. Spokesman David Austin said packages of powder arrived twice this spring and twice this fall, the last time roughly a month ago. The powder was not anthrax but after one incident in the spring, the centre was closed for a week. Police determined the first envelope was mailed in Alberta.

Anthrax spores, which can spread deadly bacteria, killed five people when mailed to various locations in the U.S. starting in the fall of 2001.


Gun registry opponents kept up calls Friday for Ottawa to suspend what they call an overpriced and wasteful snafu.

Earlier Friday, Ontario's public security minister said he'd ask other provinces to join his call for a halt to the embattled gun registry until the auditor general can assess its value.

"The federal firearms program is a billion-dollar black hole," Bob Runciman told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

He noted that a December report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser, which confirmed the mushrooming costs, could not be finished because the government failed to provide vital details.

Results of another audit, ordered after Fraser's damning review, are expected by February.

Ottawa could better use the money for joint projects to thwart cross-border gun smuggling or bolster local police forces that may someday face terrorist attacks, Runciman said.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has also criticized the gun law, saying criminals don't register their weapons. And Alberta legislature member Doug Griffiths has publicly vowed to defy the rules.

Ran with fact box "$1B 'black hole'", which has been appended to this story. Detector a success page A3. This is no joke page B1.

© Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal

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January 4, 2003, 10:07 AM

from the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

Gun owner sent five licences for same gun

Times & Transcript | E-Brief As published on page A1/A2 on January 4, 2003

Gun owner sent five licences for same gun
MP charges administrative error proves information collected by controversial gun registry is invalid

Times & Transcript Staff

OTTAWA - Even as Ontario demanded that Ottawa suspend its beleaguered gun registry yesterday, a 79-year-old Maritimer emerged to take yet another shot at it.

Harry Walker of Amherst, N.S., says the information gathered by the gun registry is untrustworthy since it mistakenly gave him five licences for his single Savage bolt-action .30-30 hunting rifle.

Although the 30-year-old weapon hasn’t been fired in 20 years, Walker decided that he had to obey the law and license it six months ago.

Last month the Canadian Firearms Centre’s central processing plant in Miramichi sent him five licence stickers to affix to his weapon. They arrived in separate letters on the same day.

Walker is worried that the police will now believe he has five weapons and he will be able to produce just one, or if the stickers fell to the wrong hands a gun registered under his name could be used in a crime.

So he took his story to Cumberland-Colchester Progressive Conservative MP Bill Casey. Casey promptly issued a news release yesterday demanding Justice Minister Martin Cauchon launch an investigation into why Walker received five licences for his one deer hunting rifle, and whether such errors are common.

"The gun registry is not credible and they’ve wasted $1 billion," he said in reference to the auditor general’s report about the cost of the gun registry.

Casey predicted that many more stories about administrative errors will emerge as criticism of the gun registry mounts.

"We’ve not heard the end of this by a long shot. You’re going to hear about a lot more administrative errors," he said.

David Austin, spokesman for the Canadian Firearms Centre, could not comment on Walker’s case directly, but said the information gathered and stored by the gun registry is credible. He added that it is not right to assume that Walker’s gun appears five times in the registry just because it has five numbers.

Administrative errors are "uncommon" and when they occur they are investigated and corrected, Austin said. He also said that internal audits of the validity of the information gathered prove that it is accurate.

Walker is just the latest in a string of criticism that has rocked the gun registry since Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s damning report last month. She found that the cost of the registry was far higher than what Parliament had originally been told. Instead of costing $119 million, with $117 million being recouped through fees, the registry has already cost $688 million and will hit $1 billion a decade after it opened in 1995.

Also yesterday, Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security Bob Runciman called for a suspension to the gun registry.

"This is an unconscionable waste of taxpayers’ money on an initiative that focuses primarily on law-abiding citizens," he said.

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino also waded into the fray yesterday. There is a "crisis" of firearms-related homicides in Toronto now. None of the weapons used have been registered and the $1 billion could be better spent on law enforcement, he said.

"The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results," he said.

An anti-gun control rally was held Monday when two men were arrested on gun-related charges, and on Christmas Eve the minister of justice ordered a modification to the Dec. 31 deadline for registration because the Canadian Firearms Centre had been overwhelmed with last-minute requests. Six-month extensions were offered to anyone who simply wrote a letter of intent to the government that they planned to register but could not because they were unable to get through.

Still, the government claims that the gun registry is a success. Almost two million gun owners are registered, an estimated 75 per cent of all gun owners in Canada. And 5.7 million weapons are registered, mostly shotguns and rifles, an estimated 72 per cent of all firearms.

Copyright © 2003 Brunswick News Inc.

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