(This column was published in the North Shore News on Jan. 17, 2001)


Gun control funding a waste of our money

By Leo Knight

IF the government of Canada had decided against their stupid new gun control legislation, what might they have done with the money instead?  


Surely a half a billion dollars (or so) could have had some positive effect?  


For instance, they could have put the money into health care and, for example, purchased more than 140 MRI machines. This move might have actually reduced the waiting times for this important diagnostic tool down to a week or two. Not the existing two to six months depending on where you live in this country.  


How important is that? Well it could mean the difference between getting a cancer diagnosed early enough to survive and dying from the disease. That's all. Just life and death in many cases.  


How many lives will the much-vaunted gun control legislation save? None. Not one. But, they have managed to create another bloated, shiny, new bureaucracy. Well, stick with what you're good at, I suppose.  


But MRI machines are not enough by themselves. No, the money could have been used to hire and train about 5,000 more nurses the way they used to, by using teaching hospital programs. No, they couldn't do that. Then they would have to actually open all those closed-down ICUs and operating theatres. And then where would we be?  


Or, it could have funded an additional 8,000 front-line police officers. Or indeed, it could have paid for the activities of 40 units the size of the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia. Of course we don't need 40 such agencies, so what about funding just one in this country with sufficient resources to actually have an effect against organized crime instead of being a mere annoyance.  


Do we need more police officers? Well, let me put it this way -- police today cannot attend most motor vehicle accidents, leaving the drivers to sort it out themselves, which usually leaves the insurance company the ability to simply blame both parties and the heck with the truth.  


Nor can they actually investigate a burglary. These days it is more about simply getting a list of stolen property for their records and giving out a file number for insurance purposes.  


Get stiffed by a con artist? Sure, the police will take a look at it. But only if you lost over $5,000 and you can wait the six to 12 months it will take to get to work its way to the top of the pile.  


Police forces today can barely meet their minimally acceptable staffing levels for the uniformed first response, never mind keeping sufficient experienced police officers available to conduct the follow-up investigations on all but the most serious of cases.


And, to add insult to injury, Justice Minister Anne McLellan nicked over 500 police officers from the ranks to help out the bureaucrats with her gun control sham. Like they had nothing better to do.  


What else might the government have done with our half-billion dollars? What about funding more than 12,000 new probation and parole officers so those responsible for watching the prematurely released convicts in Canada have a manageable caseload so they can actually pay attention to those wreaking havoc on our streets.  


Better yet, build 20 more federal penitentiaries to keep the a*****es where they rightfully belong in the first place.  


Or they could have purchased and maintained 150 police helicopters and never had to again debate the ludicrous "to chase or not to chase" every time some genetically disenfranchised excuse for a human being kills an innocent person while running from a police officer trying to do his or her duty.  


Now I realize that none is this is as easy as all that. Police officers have to be trained and equipped. As do nurses and probation officers. There is no quick fix. But, the salient point here is that there are a whole lot better uses for that money than a gun registry and licensing law that accomplishes absolutely nothing at one hell of a cost.  


Conversely, they could put two more fountains in the river in Shawinigan.






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