Long-gun Registry

Phrase that became short hard for the gun registration system passed by the government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 1995 as part of Bill C-68, also known as The Firearms Act.

The Act, passed in the aftermath of the École Polytechnique Massacre, called for harsher penalties for crimes involving the use of guns. It also established the Canadian Firearms Registry to keep a national record of applications, licences and ownership of restricted and prohibited firearms. The government said at the time that the registry would have a net-cost of $2 million after taking registration fees into account.

The “long-gun registry” became a political hot potato. Many hunters and farmers were up in arms, literally and metaphorically, over the new policy. They felt it was an unnecessary intrusion into their lifestyles. Many urban Canadians, meanwhile, could not understand the need to use semi-automatic weapons to hunt.

In the end, the long-gun registry became short hand for both absurdly expensive policy initiatives – see “billion dollar boondoggle” – and for policies that exacerbate rural-urban divisions across Canada. Abandoned years later primarily for political reasons under the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the initiative had by then already cost well above $1 billion – a far cry from the $2 million promised by the Liberals years before.

Shades of the long-gun registry debate re-emerged in the spring of 2020 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on military-style assault weapons.

Image source: CBC

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