OTTAWA - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has put a bullet in long-deferred regulations that would have tightened sponsorship rules for gun shows.

Toews says the Conservative government will repeal the 1998 regulations, which were set to come into force this November after being deferred on 10 separate occasions by Liberal and Conservative ministers.

The gun-show rules were designed to ensure people running a gun show got approval in advance from their province's chief firearms officer and also notified local police.

The regulations would have made sponsors of gun shows responsible for the safety of the exhibition, including ensuring vendors properly displayed and stored their weapons.

Toews said in a release that the repeal of the regulations shows the Conservative government is "focusing on protecting families and communities and not pushing administrative burdens on law-abiding gun owners."

The government says existing gun storage and safety laws make the gun-show regulations redundant.

The Conservatives last deferred the regulations in November 2010 as they were about to come into force.

"While the RCMP would support implementing the regulations, from a risk management perspective, Canadian gun shows are not considered a significant public safety concern," the government said at the time.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that Canadian gun show sponsors and exhibitors generally comply with the safety requirements of the Gun Show Regulations."

Five weeks after that Nov. 26, 2010, statement, two men were charged with selling prohibited spring-loaded knives and improperly registered guns at the Brandon Gun and Hobby Show on Dec. 12, 2010.

However such incidents are rare.

According to a backgrounder released Friday by Public Safety, "law enforcement in Canada has recorded only two incidents where the activities at such events could have endangered public safety due to unsecure display practices." The release does not cite the incidents or provide a time frame over which they occurred.

There are about 300 gun shows a year in Canada, according to Public Safety Canada.

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  • What does this new bill on the gun registry do?

    We keep hearing about scrapping the long-gun registry, but really what we're talking about is scrapping the requirement for people to register their rifles and shotguns - that's what Bill C-19 aims to do by making amendments to the Criminal Code and Firearms Act. Once passed, people will not have to register their non-restricted or non-prohibited firearms. It also provides for the destruction of existing records in the Canadian Firearms Registry for those firearms. <em>With files from CBC</em>

  • What exactly is the registry?

    It's a centralized database overseen by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that links firearms with their licensed owners. It contains information about all three types of guns that must be registered - non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. (All firearms must be registered.) To register a firearm, you have to have a licence to possess it.

  • Does the bill make any changes to licensing requirements?

    No. Canadian residents need a licence in order to possess and register a firearm or ammunition and that won't change. There are a couple of different kinds of licences because of various changes to laws and regulations over the years.

  • What are long guns?

    There are three types of guns under Canadian law: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Most common long guns - rifles and shotguns - are non-restricted but there are a few exceptions. A sawed-off shotgun, for example, is a prohibited firearm. A handgun is an example of a restricted firearm. Different regulations apply to different classifications of firearms.

  • How many guns are we talking about?

    As of September 2011, there were about 7.8 million registered guns. Of those, 7.1 million are non-restricted firearms.

  • Why does the government want to get rid of the long-gun registry?

    The government says it is wasteful and ineffective at reducing crime and targets law-abiding gun owners instead of criminals, who don't register their firearms.

  • Who wants to keep it?

    Police and victims' groups are big supporters of the registry. Police say the database helps them evaluate a potential safety threat when they pull a vehicle over or are called to a residence. They also say it helps support police investigations because the registry can help determine if a gun was stolen, illegally imported, acquired or manufactured. This year, the RCMP says police agencies accessed it on average more than 17,000 times a day.

  • When will the registry cease to exist?

    The government has passed the legislation and the registry no longer exists. Except for in Quebec, where an ongoing court challenge means the owners must still register their guns in the province.

  • Why does the government want to destroy the records?

    The government is doing this to ensure that no future non-Conservative government can recreate the registry. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has also made it clear that if any province wants to set up its own registry it would get no help from the federal government. The Conservatives are so fundamentally opposed to the existence of the records, because they say they focus on law-abiding citizens instead of criminals, that they don't want them available for anyone to use.

  • How much does the registry cost?

    The registry cost more than $1 billion to set up in 1995 and the cost was the source of much controversy. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said on Oct. 25 that the government's best estimate is that it costs about $22 million a year to operate. That's the entire registry, not just the long-gun portion, but he noted most of the guns in the registry are long guns. He said he didn't know how much money scrapping the requirement to register long guns would save the government. Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner says there are also "hidden costs" that are borne by provincial and municipal police agencies to enforce the registry.