Gun lobbyists oppose Quebec's proposed long-gun registry

MONTREAL -- Quebec's bid to create a provincial long-gun registry -- seemingly a given not long ago -- is being met by grassroots opposition from those who want the government to abandon the initiative.

See Full Article

The province tabled a bill last December aimed at setting up its own log three years after the Conservatives abolished the federal database for non-restricted guns, known as the long-gun registry.

But after unanimity among Quebec lawmakers on the proposal, some politicians are starting to have cold feet.

Members of the Parti Quebecois and the Coalition for Quebec's Future have acknowledged caucus strife on the matter and there are reports the governing Liberals have their own divisions. There are even rumblings about a seldom-used free vote on the matter if it the bill gets that far.

The caucus rifts seem centred on a rural-urban divide -- one that registry detractors are trying to capitalize on with protests targeting specific riding offices.

Watching eagerly from the sidelines is the national gun lobby, which is admittedly concerned about the repercussions of a Quebec registry.

Canada's National Firearms Association has lent its support to the Quebec movement calling for the bill to be abolished. The group is called 'Tous contre un registre quebecois des armes a feu," which translates loosely as "All Against a Quebec Firearms Registry."

"Hunters and sport shooters from all the provinces have their eyes on Quebec," said Francis Tenta, a Quebec representative for the National Firearms Association. "If Quebec moves forward with this gun registry, all other provinces will look at it and some may be tempted."

Guy Morin, vice-president of the Quebec group, says a few donations have come in from Western Canada and that some Ontario gun owners were set to join a weekend protest in Maniwaki, Que.

"They know if it passes in Quebec, they might be next," said Morin, who argues there isn't as much support outside Montreal for a registry.

He advocates spending the money on mental health and says Canadian regulations pertaining to the licensing of weapons are sufficient.

"For the past 25 years, people who've favoured a registry and stricter controls have been ignorant about the rules that exist," he said. "The money must be invested in the right place. For 25 years they put the focus on the weapon and it was a fiasco (federally), both in terms of money and in terms of registration."

Gun-control advocates counter that a majority of Quebecers want a registry and that licences aren't enough.

Heidi Rathjen, a spokeswoman for PolyRemembers, says the cornerstone of effective weapons control is to hold gun owners accountable for what they possess.

"You can't have gun control if you're not controlling the guns," Rathjen said.

"Without registration, you make it a lot easier for guns to fall into the wrong hands because gun owners aren't accountable for their guns."

Quebec has often been cast as being more bullish about gun-control legislation than anywhere else in the country, partly because of major mass shootings such as the Montreal Massacre in 1989.

The move to create a provincial registry was lauded by public health organizations, women's groups and law enforcement and Rathjen says there were no signs of cracks.

That said, she isn't surprised by the gun lobby opposition.

"It's the same scenario playing out on the provincial level that played out on the federal level," she said.

Gino Marra, an anti-registry hunter and sport shooter, says law-abiding gun enthusiasts feel compelled to take a stand.

"I think most of the hunters and sport shooters are fed up being targeted as a threat to public safety," Marra said.

That refrain was heard often during the contentious federal long-gun debate and many elements of that battle are being transposed to Quebec.

Opponents argue the registry might end up just as costly as the defunct federal one.

Premier Philippe Couillard's Liberal government says it will cost about $17 million to start and $5 million yearly to operate.

The province fought a protracted legal battle against Ottawa in a bid to preserve the Quebec data from the federal registry, which was eliminated in 2012. It ultimately lost at the Supreme Court.

For his part, Couillard has said he doesn't see what the fuss is all about.

"I have two hunting rifles at my house," said the premier, whose own riding is partly rural. "I'm not at all traumatized by the fact of having to register them."

A petition calling for the bill to be scrapped has garnered more than 36,000 signatures and is expected to presented in mid-March.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Nearly 50,000 people flee area surrounding Bali volcano

    World News CTV News
    BALI, Indonesia - Nearly 50,000 people have fled the Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing an imminent eruption as dozens of tremors rattle the surrounding region, officials said Monday. Waskita Sutadewa, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency in Bali, said people have scattered to all corners of the island and some have crossed to the neighbouring island of Lombok. Source
  • Trump replaces travel ban with new restrictions

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation imposing strict new restrictions on travellers from a handful of countries, including five that were covered by his expiring travel ban. Administration officials say the new measures are required to keep the nation safe. Source
  • Highway of Tears walk to wrap up in B.C., ahead of MMIW inquiry

    Canada News CTV News
    SMITHERS, B.C. - A group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls will walk along the so-called Highway of Tears today into a small British Columbia community where a national inquiry is set to hold hearings. Source
  • Tennessee church shooting suspect charged with murder

    World News CTV News
    NASHVILLE - Witnesses and police described a chaotic scene as a masked attacker armed with two guns shot seven people, killing one, in a Tennessee church before he was subdued. The church pastor yelled for the congregants to run after the attacker came through the church silently shooting, according to a witness Sunday in a Nashville neighbourhood. Source
  • Myanmar police blame insurgents for the deaths of 28 Hindu women, boys

    World News CTV News
    YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar police said Monday that they have discovered at least 28 slain Hindu women and boys in two mass graves in the Southeast Asian country's conflict-torn northern Rakhine state. The government blames Muslim insurgents for the killings. Source
  • Merkel faces tough task to build Germany government

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is embarking on a complicated quest to form a new government and find answers to the rise of a nationalist, anti-migrant party. Sunday's election in Europe's biggest economy left Merkel's conservative Union bloc weakened after a campaign that focused squarely on Germany's leader of the past 12 years. Source
  • Iraqi Kurds head to polls for independence referendum

    World News CTV News
    IRBIL, Iraq - Polls have opened in Iraq's Kurdish-run provinces and disputed territories as Iraqi Kurds cast ballots in support for independence from Baghdad in a historic but non-binding vote. Millions are expected to vote on Monday across the three provinces that make up the Kurdish autonomous region, as well as residents in disputed territories - areas claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Source
  • Searchers dig as Mexico City reopens just 1% of schools after earthquake

    World News CBC News
    Search teams are still digging in dangerous piles of rubble hoping against the odds to find survivors at collapsed buildings, while officials say they have so far cleared only 103 of Mexico City's nearly 9,000 schools to reopen Monday. Source
  • Catholic church to investigate cases of children of priests

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis' committee of advisers on protecting children from sexually abusive priests is expanding its workload to include the needs and rights of children fathered by Roman Catholic priests. Committee members told The Associated Press on Sunday that a working group is looking into developing guidelines that can be used by dioceses around the world to ensure that children born to priests are adequately cared for. Source
  • Convicted Craigslist killer appeals death sentence

    World News CTV News
    AKRON, Ohio - A man convicted of killing three down-and-out men lured by bogus Craigslist job offers is appealing his death sentence to Ohio's highest court. The Akron Beacon Journal reports the Ohio Supreme Court will hear the appeal of 58-year-old Richard Beasley Tuesday morning. Source