Canada: "Ottawa forced to loosen deadline"


December 28, 2002, 09:59 AM
Note the phone number and email address. ;)

Ottawa forced to loosen deadline
Rush jams phone lines: Firearms owners told to write, e-mail before Dec. 31

Bill Curry
National Post, with files from Southam News

Saturday, December 28, 2002

OTTAWA - The federal government is relaxing the requirements for its problem-plagued gun registry by giving gun owners who have not registered their firearms by the Dec. 31 deadline a last chance to avoid becoming criminals.

A last-minute rush by thousands of gun owners to register their weapons has jammed the federal firearm centre's Web site and toll-free telephone line in the latest fiasco to hit the program.

The estimated 600,000 firearm owners who have not yet applied for gun registration can write the Canadian Firearms Centre by Dec. 31 stating their intention to register, the Justice Department said yesterday.

By sending their name, address and licence number to the centre by e-mail, fax or regular mail, they will avoid committing a crime by not having registered by the deadline.

"There is no intention of penalizing law-abiding Canadians," Martin Cauchon, the Justice Minister, said.

The gun registry has been at the centre of a political storm since it was revealed several weeks ago that costs are set to overrun by $1-billion.

The firearms centre had offered free registration to those who register online, but many users are greeted with an error message when they attempt that route. Applicants who telephone the toll-free number are led through a series of options before being transferred to a busy signal.

"What's happening is that we're getting a lot of last-minute applicants," said Chantale Breton, a spokeswoman for the centre, who urged people to register as soon as possible in the new year if they send a letter of intent.

"It doesn't change the fact that firearm owners have to act by the Dec. 31 deadline," she said.

Roger White, a professor at the Queen's University School of Business, said he was amazed the government would set one date as the deadline for all 1.9 million licensed gun owners to register.

"When you're doing something like this, it's really simple, you just say 'If your last name ends with A, you have to register by such and such a date. If your last name ends with B, you have to register by such and such a date.' That way you don't get jammed. I mean, this is not rocket science," he said.

Mr. White said he's been trying unsuccessfully to register his gun for the past week and a half, using both the Internet and the 1-800 number.

He said he waited until the last minute as a protest against the tone of a letter he received last summer that said unless his gun was registered, he would be in violation of the Criminal Code.

"I was irate with this original document, which said if you're not actually completely registered -- including their paperwork, over which I have no control -- by Dec. 31, then you're in violation of the Code. I said, 'Dammit, I'll be in violation of the code, if that's what they want.' You can't win," he said.

"A billion dollars of my money. Unbelievable."

Yesterday's announcement does not extend the deadline for registration. In November, the government extended a six-month grace period for gun owners who have registered by the deadline, but have not received their registration certificate.

Those who send in their letter of intent must register and receive their certificates by the end of June or they will be in violation of the Criminal Code.

The Canadian Firearms Centre's central processing site is located in Miramichi, N.B., where more than 150 people have been working overtime to keep the office open 16 hours a day.

A private-sector firm called Business Data Processing was expected to take over much of the registry's operation following the Dec. 31 deadline, but no final decision has been made.

According to statistics provided yesterday by the Department of Justice, about 75% of licensed firearm owners have already registered their guns. That means 5.7 million guns have been registered and accounted for, leaving an estimated 2.2 million guns to be accounted for by Tuesday's deadline.

Of the 1.9 million licensed gun owners, about 1.3 million have already registered, leaving 600,000 who must indicate their intent to register by Tuesday.

The government claims 90% of all gun owners have licensed their firearms, which became mandatory in January, 2001.

A group called the Canadian Unregistered Firearm Owners Association is planning a protest in Ottawa next week following the registration deadline.

Members are planning to go to 24 Sussex Drive and present the Prime Minister with the ashes from their firearms licences and gun registration certificates.

Justice department officials were left scrambling this month after Parliament refused a request for an additional $72-million to maintain the Canadian Firearms Centre.

The unprecedented move came just days after Sheila Fraser, the Auditor-General, reported the government kept Parliament in the dark about the rising cost of the program.

Ms. Fraser pointed out that when the government first announced the plan, it predicted licensing and registration fees would cover all but $2-million of the program's costs. However, the gross cost is now close to $800-million and could reach $1-billion by 2005.


Until Dec. 31, 2002, licensed individuals attempting to register their firearms or who are seeking application forms may submit a statement to the Canadian Firearms Centre setting out their intention to apply for registration. In order to make a statement of intention to register, an individual must provide the following:

- full name

- address

- valid firearms licence or Firearms Acquisition Certificate number.

Individuals may make a statement to register, in writing only, either by e-mail to canadian.firearms, by fax to 1-800-411-0622, or by mail postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2002, to P.O. 1200, Miramichi, New Brunswick E1N 5Z3.

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December 28, 2002, 10:12 AM
And be sure to visit the online application several times a day.

December 28, 2002, 02:07 PM
Part of my kids' Monday homeschool lesson will be Activism. Taking a page from the lefties I will immerse the kids in a good old-fashioned fax, phone and email blitz. This will be our small part in an effort to clog the crud in the Canadian registration system.

Think globally, act locally, or whatever those tofu munchers say.

I feel sorry for the folks across the border who are up against this. OTOH, I think that they have taken the casual approach for too long and are reaping the bitter fruits of inaction, and trust of their government.

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