Monday, November 07, 2011

Police and the long gun registry

The government continues to move too slowly to abolish the long gun registry. Along the way there is a recurrent theme that the media reports and then irresponsibly fails to challenge.

The issue is always something like some police chiefs association supports the registry because it reduces crime or makes police safer or some such noise link, link. Of course they never back this claim with real data. Because it's the police the media report this as fact and never allow such statements to be challenged or logically analyzed.

I generally support the police in their efforts to keep us safe as evidenced by the writing on this site. However let's do some analysis of this police position.

First and foremost our nation is not a police state like say East Germany. Society does not exist to make the police job easier or even safer. There are a lot of things we could do that I'm sure the police chiefs would agree would be valuable "tools" against crime including:

  • being able to tap phone calls without a warrant
  • entering someones home to search without a warrant
  • arrest and detain indefinitely without charge
  • imprisonment without trial
  • enhanced interrogation techniques of suspects
  • more widespread ability for search and seizure with no exclusion of tainted evidence
  • casual access without warrant to detailed individual electronic records such as banking, health, tax, etc.

All of these things, like the long gun registry, would make the police job theoretically easier and more effective. Now since Canada is not a police state we establish boundaries the law enforcement must operate in so that the people can be generally free. There's a balance between individual freedom and the ability of the police to keep the peace and deal with crime when it does occur.

Of course the police do have abilities regular folks don't

  • carry a loaded gun while on duty
  • bulletproof vest while on duty
  • mace and pepper spray while on duty
  • ability to arrest
  • ability to quickly pull information on a VIN, license plate or suspect name
  • ability to call in backup

Canada got by for over 125 years without the long gun registry and the cops were able to sustain the rule of law during that time. I'm sure we'll be fine now without the offensive registry. It was never explained how a crackdown on law abiding citizens was supposed to reduce crime.

Alas today's police seem overly preoccupied with harassing law abiding citizens who are easier and more docile targets. For a long time now the role of the police has gone from dealing with tough criminals to picking on soft middle class targets including

  • hunters
  • public skaters not wearing helmets
  • adult commuters not wearing bicycle helmets
  • smokers in their own car
  • parents of 11 year olds not in booster seats
  • motorists not in seat belts or motorcycle helmets
  • people playing cards in their own home

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