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Canada's Gun Registration System

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Gun control has been a topic of concern in many developed countries, since the early 21st century. In 1997 the Canadian government has decided to regulate gun ownership by introducing Canadian firearm registration system. American based Electronic Data Systems and SHL system house from the UK started working on a simple IT project that was estimated to cost $2 million. The project was expected to cost another $119 million for implementation. According to the government guesstimate, gun owners would wind up paying approximately $117 million dollars as the registration fees for their weapons. The registry aimed at universal regulation of guns including rifles and shotguns and aid policing agencies to track firearms used in illegal activities and crimes. The proposers also argued that the gun registry would be an effective tool to counter domestic violence and suicides. However, anticipation turned out to be quite far from reality in this project.

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The project faced obstructions due to political, technical and logistical reasons. In the first two years, as a direct result of lobbying by the opposition and similar interest groups, more than 50 agencies that weren’t a part of the initial plan had to be granted computer interface access to the registry. The project has also faced strong public outrage from rural areas, where gun ownership was common and presumed necessary. In the early stages of implementation, logistical and technical hiccups like backlogs in registrations, high error rates in applications, duplication of serial numbers and ignorance by people came into play. In December 2002, when it was revealed that the project would end up costing $1 billion of taxpayers’ money, the resistance from gun lobbying groups was echoed by public and media furthering weakening the project. Widman (2008) notes that the project is nicknamed as billion dollar boondoggle. By January 2003, even though 75% of the gun owners registered their weapons the project was termed as fiasco due to gigantic rise in costs and strong public opposition. According to a Canadian researcher Gary Mauser, “The government has not been able to show that the registry has ever been critical to solving a single violent crime” (Mauser 2006) making the project completely useless with respect to the initial project goals. After almost a decade of political blame games, in 2011 the gun registry is eliminated and all the records are destroyed. Project might be of a little help to the law enforcement agencies, but from the managerial perception it’s a disaster. Lesson learned from this “Define your project scope and freeze specifications before the requests for changes get out of hand.”(Widman 2008)

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