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

  • Researchers discover WWII-era USS Indianapolis wreckage [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the World War II heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes. Source
  • Iraq starts operation to take back Tal Afar from ISIS

    World News CBC News
    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the operation to retake the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, from the Islamic State group has begun. Al-Abadi said ISIS fighters inside the town have "no option" but to surrender or die. Source
  • United Conservative Party application to participate in Calgary Pride Parade rejected

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Alberta's newly minted United Conservative Party will not be permitted to participate in this year's Calgary Pride Parade, according to a letter sent to party members. In the application for political parties to take part in the parade, they are asked to provide information on how they've worked with the LGBTQ2S+ community in the past 12 months. Source
  • Dick Gregory, comedian and civil rights activist, dead at 84

    World News CBC News
    Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humour to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84. Gregory's son, Christian, told The Associated Press his father died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. Source
  • Train derails in northern India, killing at least 23 [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    LUCKNOW, India — Rescuers using cutting torchers and cranes worked through the night to pull apart 14 coaches of a crowded train that went off the tracks in northern India, killing 23 people and injuring more than 80 others, officials said Sunday. Source
  • Numbers drawn for Powerball jackpot, estimated at $535M

    World News CTV News
    DES MOINES, Iowa - The numbers have been drawn for one of the biggest lottery jackpots in the United States. Powerball announced Saturday night on its website that the winning numbers are: 17, 19, 39, 43, 68 and Powerball 13. Source
  • Anti-racism demonstrators overshadow planned alt-right rally at Vancouver City Hall [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Protesters demonstrating against racism and Islamophobia began gathering at noon near Vancouver City Hall, well in advance of a planned anti-immigration rally at the same site. The protesters planned to make their voices heard ahead of an "anti-Islam" rally, organized by a group spreading white-supremacist messages online, that was set to begin outside city hall at 2 p.m. Source
  • Researchers discover WWII-era USS Indianapolis wreckage

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the World War II heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes. Source
  • Small plane crashes near solar eclipse viewing party in Oregon leaving 2 dead

    World News Toronto Sun
    MADRAS, Ore. — Authorities say two people died in a small plane crash near a central Oregon airport where people are gathering to view the solar eclipse. The Central Oregon Emergency Information Network says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash about 2 p.m. Source
  • Demonstration against Boston 'free speech rally' ends in more than two dozen arrests [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BOSTON — Conservative activists and leftist counterprotesters prepared for a confrontation on Boston Common that could draw thousands a week after a demonstration in Virginia turned deadly. Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers — some in uniform, others undercover — would be deployed to keep the two groups apart on Saturday. Source