Citizen reporter posts gun registry data
The federal government’s plan to destroy the data in the doomed long-gun registry has prompted an Ottawa Citizen reporter to publicly post a copy of registry data he obtained for a 2007 series published in the newspaper. Glen McGregor hopes this will preserve at least some of the data for future research.
The federal government’s plan to destroy the data in the doomed long-gun registry has prompted an Ottawa Citizen reporter to publicly post a copy of registry data he obtained for a 2007 series published in the newspaper.
The data posted on the open-data portal buzzdata was released by the RCMP under an access to information request. Personal information such as gun owners' names and addresses was removed before the data was released to Glen McGregor, and only the first two digits of the owner’s postal code was released.
McGregor believes it is important that data from the registry be available to journalists, researchers, historians and others who might wish to study it. “There are all kinds of questions you can ask of the data now and in the future,” he said.
Under Bill C-19, tabled in the House of Commons this week, the controversial long-gun registry would be terminated. But the bill goes a step further, mandating the destruction of all of the data collected since the registration program began. The bill specifically exempts the government from the normal restrictions on destruction of records contained in the Library and Archives Act.
“To me it is a striking that the government would destroy records so people won't have access to them in the future,” McGregor said. But Ottawa argues the data must be destroyed to prevent provincial governments from setting up registries of their own. Quebec has formally protested the destruction of the data, which it wants for that purpose.
McGregor’s decision to post the data has been harshly criticized by firearms advocates, who have posted angry comments on his blog and on firearms forums. There have also been complaints to Citizen editors, McGregor told J-Source.