OTTAWA - The federal government says millions of records of registered long guns have all been destroyed, with the exception of court-protected data from Quebec.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed the registry's destruction "as of last night" after gun enthusiasts began spreading the word.

No formal news release appears to have been issued by a Conservative government that has made repeal and destruction of the long-gun registry one of its bedrock promises.

Nor has the government said exactly how much taxpayer money will be saved by repealing the registry, although a study by The Canadian Press suggests it is a small fraction of the millions spent annually on gun licensing.

Last year there were almost eight million firearms logged in the registry, including more than seven million "non-restricted" weapons.

The latest data from the RCMP shows that, as of last July, there are still more than 564,000 restricted firearms and more than 191,000 prohibited weapons in the federal gun registry.

"Our Conservative government is proud to say that as of last night, all contents of the long-gun registry have been destroyed, except those related to Quebec," Toews' director of communications Julie Carmichael said in an email Thursday.

"Make no mistake, the tax-and-spend NDP will not hesitate to bring back the long gun registry. Now that these data have been deleted, they can never be recovered — even by Thomas Mulcair," wrote the government spokeswoman.

While there was no formal news release from Public Safety, groups such as the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters were out issuing public praise for the move after Toews apparently told representatives at a federal-provincial meeting Thursday in Regina.

"We are delighted that the Harper government has followed through on its promise in such a timely fashion," Greg Farrant of the Ontario association said in a release.

The Canadian Sports Shooting Association, meanwhile, issued a statement telling its members to "rest assured, we are the envy of international firearms advocates everywhere" because Canada is almost alone internationally in rolling back gun control laws.

"The removal of the registry is, however, more nibble than bite," added the commentary from the association.

The emboldened gun lobby now wants to see recent rules on marking guns repealed and some are also calling for an end to the licensing system.

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  • Australia

    Gun ownership is strictly prohibited unless there are "genuine reasons" such as licensed sport, animal control or employment requirements.

  • Brazil

    Brazilians over the age of 25 are allowed to own guns as long as they are registered and kept indoors. The country has the second-highest gun-related death rate after the U.S.

  • Canada

    Canada's gun laws are significantly stricter than the neighboring U.S. To acquire a license, applicants must take a safety course, pass a criminal records check and be certified by a firearms officer.

  • China

    Chinese civilians are not allowed to own guns, except for hunting and protection from wildlife. Citizens can face the death penalty if caught illegally selling arms.

  • Czech Republic

    Czech guns laws are considerably more liberal than the rest of Europe. Applicants must pass a questionnaire on firearms, have no criminal record and show ID proving they are over 21 years old.

  • Germany

    Germany's Federal Weapons Act, enacted in 1972, restricts everything apart from replica guns to adults at least 18 years old, who must pass checks for "trustworthiness, knowledge and adequacy." A firearms ownership license, or <em>Waffenbesitzkarte</em>, must be obtained before a weapon can be purchased.

  • Italy

    Italians can have up to three "common" handguns in their home, but if they want to hunt or carry a concealed weapon they must apply for a license.

  • Japan

    Japanese licensing requirements are considered a formality -- there is little enforcement of the strict laws. Despite this, gun deaths are among the lowest in the world.

  • Mexico

    Strict laws, including criminal record checks, apply for Mexican ownership. However, there are growing concerns that smuggling from the US is undermining these regulations.

  • Russia

    Self defense is not a viable excuse for carrying firearms outside the home in Russia. Hand guns and fully automatics are prohibited, but adults with no criminal record can apply for a license for shotguns and air rifles.

  • United Kingdom

    Brits convicted of a criminal offense cannot handle, possess or shoot a gun. A license is needed for any firearm except low-powered air rifles/pistols. Self-defense is not a valid reason for ownership.