The most frustrating part of this entire long gun registry "debate" is the lack of any middle ground, as proponents and detractors distort and present one sided arguments, that can't even entertain any evidence which doesn't fit nicely into the preconceived bias.
So here's my attempt at providing some rational arguments for this debate.
It would help an awful lot, if we knew the purpose of the gun registry, what is it supposed to accomplish? If the registry were a compulsory accurate list of all long-guns and their owners in Canada, what benefit would it provide?
As a crime prevention tool, it appears reasonable that it is almost 100% ineffective on that front. If someone wishes to commit a crime with their long-gun (of passion or pre-mediated) the tool is already at hand. The fact that it is registered does not prevent access to the weapon. So the only utility of the registry is after the crime has been committed. Being able to link a weapon to its owner is a major step in any investigation.
Others might point out that police would like to know what weapons are in a house when responding to a call. This registry does not provide that information. As officers do not know who is in the house, they do not know what is in the house with them. If me and my neighbours were holding a rifle appreciation meeting at my home, the registry would not tell an officer that there were 10 men with 25 rifles in the residence. After busting up the meeting, they would be able to link weapons to their owners, but that's it. They would not have pre-knowledge of what was in the house.
So for investigative purposes, it requires that the database be as accurate as possible. Unfortunately the long-gun registry has the same problem that the new voluntary long-form census suffers from. It is, to all intents and purposes, voluntary. If you do not register your long-guns, the federal governemnt takes away your license to posses any guns. That's it. There are no other penalties being applied. I speak from personal experience folks, I got away with not registering my guns. And I'm still walking the streets. And since they take away your license, being a licensed gun owner is effectively voluntary as well.
So the registry only provides information on weapons that people have voluntarily registered. What percentage of all weapons this is, is unknown. How much effort people put into maintaining accurate records is also unknown.
A second problem is that many guns cannot be uniquely identified. There are no identifying marks whatsoever. I know it is hard to accept in this modern age of brand awareness, but serial numbers and stamping your brand all over your product is a recent phenomena. Many family owned weapons that have been handed down through the generations have no unique markings whatsoever on them. If you found one discarded in a ditch after a crime, you would be unable to link it to its owner. But even if the serial number is stamped into the barrel, it can easily be ground off. So relying on this is not a guaranteed method of identification.
Right now what we have is an incomplete registry, that counts on people not scrubbing identifying marks off their weapons and making it easy for investigators to link guns to owners. In short, we're counting on criminal stupidity. We don't need a registry for that.
So this is why I find the gun registry a waste of time and money, no matter how much money that is. Its utility is severely impaired. Anybody that wishes for the gun registry to continue must address these short-comings. And then maybe you'll have my support.