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The Conservative government says its MPs will celebrate after a historic vote to end the long-gun registry Wednesday evening, despite vehement opposition to the move in Quebec and much of urban Canada. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters Wednesday, hours before the vote, that the government’s actions are long overdue. “It does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes, nor has it saved one Canadian life,” he said.
“It criminalizes hard-working and law-abiding citizens such as farmers and sport shooters, and it has been a billion-dollar boondoggle left to us by the previous Liberal government.” Quebec MP Maxime Bernier said MPs and gun-rights advocates will celebrate together Parliament Hill after Wednesday evening’s vote. Meanwhile, opposition MPs and supporters of the registry are expected to say the government’s actions are a step backwards, because the registry has been useful in keeping the country’s streets safe.
The federal law will end the requirement for lawful gun owners to register their long guns, and it relaxes rules around selling or transferring guns. Gun licences for individuals will still be required, and the registry for restricted and prohibited firearms such as handguns will be maintained. Gun control has been ferociously debated in Canada for decades, particularly since the Montreal massacre of 1989, when a gunman shot and killed 14 women with a rifle. This event prompted the Liberal government of Jean Chretien to tighten gun controls and create Canada’s first mandatory long-gun registry in 1995.