Sunday, September 26, 2010

Facts and the Long Gun Registry

The Chronicle Herald recently published an article that purports to state a number of 'facts' concerning the long gun registry. At least, I'm assuming that was their intent, because the title is "Harper's (long-gun registry) index" and it would make no sense if they were stating fallacies.

My problem with it? They're not all true, some are half-truths and of those that are true, some are irrelevant to the long gun registry.

For example:

"Percentage of spousal homicides that involved the use of long guns and shotguns: 72"

This is absolutely incorrect. The truth is that an estimated 72% of firearms related spousal homicides involved the use of long guns and shotguns (it depends on the year) [source (see Table 4.3)]. Between 1997 and 2006, only ~26% of all spousal homicides involve a firearm, so naturally, its impossible that 72% of all spousal homicides could involve a long gun or shotgun [source].

"Cost of obtaining a licence for possession and acquisition of a gun: $60"

That is most definitely not the 'cost of obtaining a license for possession and acquisition of a gun' although I can see why someone who only took a cursory glance at the issue would think so. It is only referring to the cost of obtaining the PAL, after you have completed the $130 Canada Firearms Safety Course. And this PAL only allows you to possess or acquire a long gun, not a handgun which would require additional training.

Of course, the cost of licensing is irrelevant to the long gun registry, since the two issues are completely different.

This matters because I'm not a fact-checker who will go through the article one line at a time and check if each detail is correct or not. I'm not being paid to do that, which would could take hours. I can only point out discrepancies that I know to be wrong from personal knowledge and/or experience. I'm also not a journalist who is paid good (?) money to generate factual articles and/or commentary on issues today. If you're going to produce an article listing what you purport to be 'facts', you should make sure that you are actually stating the facts.