RCMP wastes millions of dollars issuing ATTs

RCMP wastes millionsFather teaching son safe firearm handling

The RCMP wastes millions of dollars issuing “make work” ATTs.

The Trudeau Liberals’ Bill C-71 will require law-abiding firearms owners to make a separate request for an ATT each time they want to take a handgun to a gunsmith or gun show or anyplace other than to a shooting range. Bill C-71 reverses a simplification introduced by the Conservatives back in 2015 with Bill C-42 which attached the ATT to the firearms licence. ATTs cannot be justified on public safety grounds, but it will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Thanks to a question by Conservative MP, Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris, Manitoba), we can now estimate how much it cost the RCMP to issue ATTs over the past decade. Based on the RCMP’s response to his question, it is clear that the RCMP wasted over one million dollars annually from 2008 to 2015 issuing authorizations to transport firearms (ATTs) — every one issued unnecessarily.

The RCMP justifies ATTs that they protect the public but it is unable to provide evidence for this claim because the Police do not bother to collect statistics about how many ATTs resulted in criminal charges, firearm licences being revoked, or firearms being seized. The RCMP collects statistics on activity, not effectiveness; this suggests their primary interest is to justify staffing needs, not public safety.

Issuing ATT’s is a “make work” exercise because requests are almost always automatically accepted — there are exceptionally few refusals. Over the ten-year period (2008 – 2017), the RCMP issued 992,139 ATTs and refused just 17. For three of these years, there were no refusals at all. Not one. Tax payers spent $10 million over ten years for this useless activity.

Here is how I calculated this cost: In its response to MP Maguire’s questions, the RCMP reported that 4.49 Full Time Equivalent employees (FTE’s) were required each year to issue 468,794 ATTs between 2008 and 2017 in the provinces and territories where CFOs report directly to the RCMP (i.e., BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, the Northwest Territory, and Nunavut.

During this 10-year period, another 523,345 ATTs were issued by the five provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI) that manage their provincial CFO’s (Chief Firearms Office) independently of the RCMP.  Assuming that these CFO’s are just as efficient as those that report directly to the RCMP, then these five provinces would have required 5.01 FTEs to issue the 523,345 ATTs. (Calculated as one FTE per 104,408 ATTs per year – or 468,794 divided by 4.49).

Adding the two FTEs together, gives a total of 9.50 FTEs (4.49 + 5.01) required to issue the 992,139 ATTs for Canada as a whole during this ten-year period (2008-2017).

How much does this “make work” activity cost the taxpayer? According to Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, it costs $114,000 annually in salary and benefits for an average civil servant in 2012. And the PBO estimated that average compensation for salaries and benefits will reach $129,800 in the next three years (i.e., by 2015). Costs may be higher in 2018.

Thus, 9.5 FTEs multiplied by $114,000 gives $1,083,282.36 — the minimum cost of issuing ATT’s each year.

The costs issuing ATTs were drastically reduced when, in 2015, the former Harper government introduced Bill C-42 which attached the ATTs to firearms licence. This meant that separate ATTs didn’t have to be issued for each trip to or from a gun store, gun show, shooting range or any other legitimate activity for a law-abiding PAL holder.

This drop can be seen in the RCMP’s response to the questions by Conservative MP, Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris, Manitoba). The RCMP reported that the number of ATTs issued in 2016 and 2017 were just 26% of previous numbers.

2008 – 2015        116,574

2016                       29,907

2017                       29,642

Thus, the Harper Conservatives Bill C-42 not only reduced the bureaucratic hassles for law-abiding firearms owners, Bill C-42 also saved Canadian tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year since.

These savings will be lost, of course, with the passage of the Trudeau Liberals’ Bill C-71.

For background information. In Canada, law abiding firearms owners, if they are stopped while when transporting a restricted weapon, must be able to show a police officer a current ATT in addition to their firearms licence and the registration slip for the restricted weapon. As well, the restricted weapon (typically a handgun) must be unloaded, sport a trigger lock, and be in a locked container.



10 Comments on "RCMP wastes millions of dollars issuing ATTs"

  1. Point of clarification: Each CFO handles ATT issuing differently according to their own policy decisions. For example, in Nova Scotia Short Term ATT’s (STATTs) are given issued verbally over the phone (i.e. you call in, given them your RPAL and related information, they give you an STATT reference number) – no paper and no email. To me this is proof that ATT’s are useless. If one were to be stopped by a LEO and all one had to give them was a number, they would have to call the CFO to see if the STATT was valid, and for what. If it was outside business hours, then they would either have to take your word for it, or arrest you and/or seize your firearms until the next business day.

    • I knew there was variation in how CFOs handle issuing ATTs, but I hadn’t know about the STATT reference number. Fascinating. And, as you say, apparent proof of the uselessness of ATTs. Perhaps, ATTs are an example of an idea that sounds good to the brass, for whatever reason, but that local authorities either don’t understand, don’t know how to implement, or they just disagree with.

  2. Thanx for this, Gary.

    Curious though, would there have been ATTs issued at all in Q4 2015; 2016; and 2017? {following coming into force of that aspect of Bill C-42 on 2014.09.02}

    • It is curious that additional ATTs were issued after Bill C-42 became law, but that could be due to different interpretations as what constitutes an ATT. One version, I’m told is that an ATT is issued with the PAL. Thus a PAL isn’t just a PAL, it’s also an ATT. So there’d be as many ATT’s issued as PALs. Another possibility is that different provinces continued to issue ATTs regardless. In any case, the RCMP didn’t contribute any explanation.

      • Even if one has an RPAL issued post C-42 (with transport authorization wording on attached “Conditions” paper), an ATT is still required if one is moving, one is crossing a provincial border, or one is loaning or borrowing a restricted firearm. For example, even though my wife has a post C-42 RPAL, she still has an LTATT in order to “borrow” my restricted firearms to take them from our house to the range by herself. Same goes for my twin sons.

  3. ATTs were issued in 2015, 2016 and 2017 because a PAL only became its own ATT when it was renewed. Even then, ipon renewal, a PAL holder receives yet another piece of paper which must be carried with the PAL and constitutes the actual ATT. Those holders of a PAL whose PAL has not yet been renewed still require ATTs.

  4. Nathan Garito | June 25, 2018 at 8:42 am | Reply

    I was wondering do you have a link to the source on how many ATT’S were issued/rejected? I would like to use this in an upcoming discussion with my local MP but would like the source of the information.

  5. I’m confused. I think I will just leave my hand guns in my gun safe until the apocalypse begins. And it’s coming.

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