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The emboldened gun lobby now wants to see recent rules on marking guns repealed and some are also calling for an end to the licensing system.