MONTREAL — Quebec’s attempt to establish a firearms registry is facing resistance, and with a January deadline looming, less than 20 per cent of the long guns believed to be in the province have been declared.
Pro-gun activist Guy Morin is calling on the public to “wait until the last minute” to comply with the law. The spokesman for Tous contre un registre quebecois des armes a feu (All Against a Quebec Gun Registry) said in an interview Friday his hope is either the registry will be abolished or so few people will register that it “cannot be enforced.”
The government has put the number of long guns — mostly shotguns and rifles — in Quebec at roughly 1.6 million. But since the registry opened last January, only 284,125 guns had been declared, Public Security Department spokeswoman Louise Quintin said.
Morin, whose group cancelled a plan in November 2017 to hold a rally at a memorial site for the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique, said Quebec’s law is an affront. “We are Canadian gun owners, and this is insulting to us,” he said. “Why do we have to register here when everywhere else in the country, you don’t have to?”
The federal Liberals introduced the Canada-wide long gun registry in 1995, saying it would cost roughly $110 million. The figure multiplied and ended up costing taxpayers many times that before the Conservatives abolished it in 2012.
Following pressure from gun-control groups, Quebec passed a law creating its own registry in 2016. The government has given gun owners until Jan. 29, 2019 to register their firearms or face penalties of up to $5,000.
Quebec initially said its registry would cost $17 million and another $5 million annually to maintain. Quintin said in an email that the budget for setting up the registry is now set at $20 million.
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters this week the government is hoping it does not have to resort to fines. “Yes, there are fines that can be applied for people who don’t fulfil their obligations,” she said. “But you know, before the repression part, I prefer to focus on the prevention part,” she added, encouraging people to register their guns over the Christmas holidays.
Canadian law classifies guns in three categories. Prohibited guns such as automatics and restricted guns such as handguns must be registered with the RCMP. Long guns no longer need to be registered in Canada, except in Quebec.