3. Firearm Control and the Justice System

3.5 Theft

Every year 250,000 to 250,000 firearms are stolen in the United States, with another 3.1 million sold, bartered, or traded through completely unregulated, non-retail channels [52]. Many of them end up in criminal hands along with hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition. In comparison, approximately 3,500 firearms are reported lost, stolen, or missing in Canada annually [53].

With over 4000km of largely open border it should be self-evident where the major source of crime guns in Canada originates. In 1993, Ontario law enforcement officials participating in "Project Gun Runner" discovered that 86% of the revolvers, semiautomatic pistols, and automatic firearms seized, bought, or turned over to police were never registered in this country and had been smuggled into Canada from the United States [54].

Making it a requirement, as proposed by prohibitionists, that persons wishing to obtain ammunition must first have an FAC or other undefined license can obviously have no impact on the criminal use of firearms. Guns are easy to obtain on the black market and ammunition won't be a problem either [55].

"Given the total number of guns now in private hands, the potential effective lifetime of each weapon, and the evident impossibility of confiscating or otherwise removing from use any more than a small fraction of them, it is apparent that the potential supply of weapons that could be used for illicit or criminal purposes is more than ample for the next several centuries, even if the worldwide production of new weaponry were completely halted today. Those 100 million or so weapons already in private hands mean that the hypothetical possible 'ideal' state of 'no guns, therefore no gun crimes' will be exceedingly difficult - quite possibly impossible - to attain" [56].

Wright, et al., Under the Gun

The issue of firearms theft is moot. There is no commodity that isn't stolen which doesn't eventually get recycled for criminal purposes. Automobiles are stolen to provide transportation to armed robberies and gangland killings. Credit cards and cash are stolen and used to support an addict's drug habit which creates even more burglaries and robberies. In a world where drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are smuggled by the hundreds of thousands of kilograms, the illegal trade in firearms is merely another way for organizaed crime to make money.

The contention that firearms ownership must be severly curtailed because guns might be stolen is simply an excuse offered when all other arguments have failed the empirical test. Criminals view firearms as income-producing and self-defense tools and will do whatever is necessary in order to obtain them.

Legislation based on this rationale sends a tacit message to every citizen: the government can no longer keep criminals out of your home.

The focus must be placed on punishing the criminal for their unregulated activities and not burdening law-abiding citizens with severe restrictions on their property which do nothing to deter crime. A 1991 nationwide Gallup poll indicated that 88% of Canadians favour severe penalties for crimes involving firearms in clear preference to the only 8% ub favour of increasing restrictions over existing firearms owners, and 69% felt that passing more severe laws over legitimate gun users will have very little influence on criminals. Evidently, the Canadian public is more realistic on this issue than the Coalition for Gun Control.