23 August 2010

Too many Chiefs... not enough...

...common sense...

Delegates at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference have voted resoundingly to support the long-gun registry, and now plan to lobby to save it from being scrapped.

Bill Blair, Toronto's police chief and the association's president, said Monday police now hope to wage a public relations campaign in the coming weeks to boost public support for the registry.
Amazingly, this item, which also made the CTV National News tonight... presented the flip side of the usual propaganda piece...
Not all frontline officers agree with the registry. Randy Kuntz, an Edmonton police officer for 22 years, surveyed 2,600 officers on the issue, and found about 2,400 want to scrap the registry.

"With the boots-meets-the-pavement type of policeman who's going to be dealing with the public every day, overwhelmingly there's no support for this registry," he told CTV's Kevin Armstrong in Edmonton. "It hasn't saved anybody."
I'll tell ya... I just about fell outta my chair.

My guess is... whoever snuck in the second part of this story is gonna be lookin' for a new job.


11 comments:

Anon1152 said...

I'm opened to the idea that the police, or at least the police establishment, is wrong about something.

But... a guy uses a magazine--or more accurately, an online forum on a magazine's website--to conduct a "poll" and you consider this hard evidence?

Has anyone managed to find the relevant part of the magazine/website/forum? I've looked a bit at blueline.ca but haven't found anything specific. I'd like to know what the question was, and how representative the magazine's readership is, and so on...


"Kuntz organized a straw poll of officers earlier this year through a police member's forum called Blue Line. He said 92 per cent of the 2,631 respondents to his "simple survey" voted in favour of scrapping the registry."

wilson said...

If Bryn Weese at QMI Agency (Sun Media) had not run the story yesterday,
you would never have heard about this 'cops only magazine poll' on CTV/CBC.
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2010/08/23/15116956.html

Neo Conservative said...

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"anon1152 says... a guy uses a magazine..."

yeah... unlike those incredibly scientific, self-selecting telephone push polls, or the media websites huh?

your initial statement suggests you are anything but "opened" to the idea.

see -- the fact is this guy is a front-line police officer with 22 years experience polling his peers in a police-related publication.

you got that, right?

oh, yeah... that statement in your link attributed to bill blair that "officers use the registry up to 11,000 times a day" is bullshit. a cop runs somebody's name, it does an automatic query to the registry.

computer magic... that's part of the reason this boondoggle cost two billion dollars.

it hasn't saved a single life... most spectacularly when those four mounties got murdered by a notorious known criminal.

how about we spend two billion dollars going after the guys who are actually pulling the triggers... instead of farmers, duck hunters & skeet shooters?

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Anon1152 said...

Neo said: "your initial statement suggests you are anything but 'opened' to the idea."

- How do you figure that? My initial statement was: "I'm opened to the idea that the police, or at least the police establishment, is wrong about something"--a recognition of the fact that, in the past, I've hardly been the biggest fan of the police. Maybe you just assume everything I say is a lie. Maybe it's opposite day. Who knows?

But I prefer to side with those who have better evidence and better arguments.

An argument to support or attack a multimillion dollar public policy should rely on sometime more than "those incredibly scientific, self selecting telephone push polls or the media websites". Media website polls (just like the blueline.ca one, or the ones on the Globe and Mail website, or facebook group membership numbers) are not reliable indicators of public opinion or expert opinion. They should all come with a disclaimer: for entertainment purposes only. Unfortunately the News itself is, increasingly, for entertainment purposes only. Perhaps it would be redundant.

Show me something more controlled, where we know each person voting only gets one vote, and where each person voting actually is a police officer. Even if everyone voting was a police officer, and even if there was only one vote per person, a single publication's readership does not represent an entire profession. It's like taking only readers of the Toronto Sun or only readers of the Toronto Star and pretending that their views represent the views of all newspaper readers in Toronto.

The evidence and experts on the pro-registry side seem and sound more credible. Unless you define someone's credibility is directly proportional to how much they agree with you.

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I wish these statements were accompanied by better sources. Footnotes. Bibliographies. Etc. But for what it's worth:

http://www.truthsandmyths.ca/joint-statement.html

http://www.truthsandmyths.ca/how-the-firearms-registry-has-contributed-to-community-and-police-officer-safety.html

http://www.aspq.org/DL/Declarationang.pdf

http://www.truthsandmyths.ca/

langmann said...

@ Anon1152.

Anyone can do internet searches. I suggest you actually examine the evidence you posted. That is the first step toward evaluating evidence.

The Health Association pdf I am intimitely familiar with and this one is purely political.

First of all there is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting the gun registry in Canada. The evidence that is quoted in the pdf is so flawed that it would be laughed out of any scientific journal. They state suicide rates have dropped since 1990 and try and relate this to the registry. Suicide rates in Canada have declined markedly since 1978 and were declining at a faster rate before the purely political gun laws were passed in the 1990s. If you were going to use that as evidence, you'd have to state the gun registry makes suicide by gun more likely. What has likely had a larger effect on suicide in Canada is the production of antidepressents and physician awareness. There is evidence for that and can be found on any pubmed search. Moreover there exists a clear substitution effect in males, when firearms are removed from the picture, hanging increases.

The same situation exists in regard to spousal homicide, where the likely real influence on the reduction of spousal homicide has more to do with police awareness and more spousal support.

As a practising physician, the gun registry is completely useless to me in regard to preventing suicide. Moreover in the cases where patients have revealed that they have firearms, I have had people hang themself after the firearms were given over to a friend. The gun registry has had no effect on the occasional gang shooting we treat.

I cannot comment specifically on the police situation. What I do know is that whenever I have asked about a check of the registry for a suicidal patient brought in by police, they usually smirk and then say "we checked the place for firearms". It seems to me they have no respect for it.

However 2000 police officers voicing dissapproval means something and should be examined further. It is interesting that when members have tried to conduct more scientific polls they have been severely reprimanded. When you consider that the chief of police organizations receive funding from the very company that runs the gun registry you begin to wonder why...

Anon1152 said...

Hi langmann,

That was an excellent response.

I agree that the information presented by the pro-registry side is less than perfect. And as I said above, I wish sources were revealed so that they could be checked. "Once, some guy's life was saved" doesn't quite do it for me. But I take the information in the links I provided more seriously than the internet forum poll. And peer reviewed scientific literature is not necessarily called for on the part of police or healthcare professionals lobbying the government. It's good to rely on. It's not so great at making an argument before a large audience of non-experts.


Do you know if the medical organizations are getting paid by the registry people in the same way as the police (as you mentioned)? That would also be interesting (and disturbing)...


Even still, I find it hard to believe that knowing if a potentially suicidal or homicidal person has guns and removing them is completely useless in all cases. There was a recent article in Toronto Life magazine that mentioned subway barriers and reduced subway suicides. Most subway suicides go to the station closest to them. When barriers go up in some stations, there isn't an increase in nearby barrier-less stations. At least that's what the article said. I don't have it with me but could perhaps find it later in the week.

Of course, there isn't any easy way (or perhaps there is no way at all) to test the effectiveness of the registry in any particular case. And it doesn't need to be proven to work in every case in order to be useful. Do proponents of the registry say "once we have all/most guns registered, no one will ever be shot ever again"? Anti-depressants (to use an example you mentioned) are not effective in all cases, and in some cases make suicide more likely. That doesn't mean that they are useless, should not be used at all, should not be covered by insurance schemes, etc.


Perhaps countries/provinces/states/counties/cities could be examined to try to compare and try to separate out the effects of gun registration and regulation, increased use of antidepressants, increased awareness, changes in the unemployment rate, etc...

langmann said...

To answer your last question, Lott has already done that, the largest analysis to date with the best statistical workup available.

He finds no evidence that gun laws have had any beneficial effect. in fact he found suprisingly, that preventing people from using guns for self defence has had a detrimental effect on crime rates. (Read "More Guns Less Crime" for a summary of his published peer reviewed papers.)

The National Academy of Science in the US did a systemic analysis of all the research available and came up with the conclusion that there is not enough evidence to judge whether gun laws have had any effect either positive or negative.

The current debate among scientists that look at this issue is "does banning guns cause more crime?"

You see there are thousands of cases of guns being used for self defence in this country. Most result in no shootings, the criminal leaves the area when he sees a person has the means for self defence. Banning guns makes it hard for people to defend themselves, and this is a problem that well meaning people do not discuss on TV. Personally I am intimitely familiar with one case where the use of a gun (no one was shot) stopped a very serious injury or killing.

In the United States people who are adequately trained can obtain a Concealed carry licence to use a firearm for self defence. States keep track of these legal users. Of the millions of people with these licences, a insignificant number lose theirs for infractions - mostly from non gun related infractions like DUI. This kind of evidence tells me that the vast majority of people who are screened by the state and deemed to be responsible enough to use firearms for self defence in public are completely responsible. It is in effect one of the most sucessful social programs around.

As to the subway fence, that evidence has nothing to do with guns. Moreover there is no way to know if these people don't just go and hang themselves. What is clear is that people who study gun suicide show a substitution effect in men who use hanging as an alternate means.

As to the use of the registry to prevent suicide, it is useless to me. As a physician I cannot check the registry. There are no physicians who call the police to check the registry if the suicidal person denies having guns. It is only if they admit to having guns will we call the police to go get them, or have one of the friends of the patient get them.

Moreover neither the gun registry, nor a gun safe prevented the college shooting that I prevented. It was through psychiatric sleuthing that I stopped that.

The money from the gun registry should instead be put into psychiatry, it would do more good. In a time like now when money is scarce, you want the greater effect.

Neo Conservative said...

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somebody show me a single life that has been saved by the "farmer bob rifle registry".

those four mounties out west were slaughtered by a life-long thug with multiple weapons prohibitions. the long gun registry was a kneejerk liberal publicity stunt that pretended to fight crime.

the fact is, handguns... the weapon of choice for violent thugs... have been restricted weapons since the 1930s.

the stolen & smuggled saturday night specials have nothing to do with legitimate firearms owners.

hey... let's take just 10% of that 2 billion dollars allan rock pissed down the toilet and buy some diagnostic technology.

how many mri or ct machines could you buy with 200 million dollars?

how many positions could we fund at medical schools?

good grief.

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liberal supporter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neo Conservative said...

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sorry libby... you crossed a line... you don't get to comment here any more.

-- deleted, yet again --

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Anon1152 said...

"As to the subway fence, that evidence has nothing to do with guns. Moreover there is no way to know if these people don't just go and hang themselves. What is clear is that people who study gun suicide show a substitution effect in men who use hanging as an alternate means."

Well. I was talking about suicide and substitution effects. Which I thought was one of the things we were talking about.

***

"In the United States people who are adequately trained can obtain a Concealed carry licence to use a firearm for self defence. States keep track of these legal users. Of the millions of people with these licences, a insignificant number lose theirs for infractions - mostly from non gun related infractions like DUI. This kind of evidence tells me that the vast majority of people who are screened by the state and deemed to be responsible enough to use firearms for self defence in public are completely responsible. It is in effect one of the most sucessful social programs around."

I haven't found the book, but I did find one of Lott's earlier journal articles. (Lott and Mustard were the authors. I love saying that. Lott and Mustard. But I digress).

I have started reading the article, but don't have the time or expertise to look into this matter in the depth that it deserves.

But just looking and what you've said... I'm not sure that Lott's evidence is evidence that the gun registry is a bad idea.

The registry is about the authorities having access to a database of legally possessed weapons... which can happen whether or not those weapons can be legally concealed. You're pointing to evidence that concealed weapons reduce crime--specifically, concealed weapons held by people who have been screened and who are continually checked up on by the authorities... you said "States keep track of these legal users"...

Isn't that evidence that suggests that a gun registry of some sort is useful?