12/03/2015 02:28 EST | Updated 12/03/2016 05:12 EST

Quebec Long-Gun Registry: Liberals Want Every Firearm Numbered

The bill was tabled as survivors from the Polythecnique shooting looked on.

QUEBEC — Quebec will create its own registry for non-restricted firearms, Public Security Minister Pierre Moreau announced Thursday, more than three years after the Conservative government passed a law abolishing the federal long-gun database.

Moreau said every non-registered gun in Quebec will receive a number that will be entered into a provincial database.

All firearm owners will have 12 months to register their weapon after a bill setting up the registry becomes law.

The process can be done online, without a fee, Moreau added.

pierre moreau

Quebec Interim Public Security Minister Pierre Moreau applauds people who were involved in the Polythecnique shooting. (Photo: Jacques Boissinot/CP)

"I think if there is resistance to this law it will be on ideological, not on practical grounds," Moreau told reporters in Quebec City.

Canadian law divides guns into three categories: non-restricted, such as certain types of shotguns and rifles; restricted, such as handguns and semi-automatics; and prohibited, such as full automatics and sawed-off shotguns.

Restricted and prohibited weapons must be registered under the Firearms Act.

The Conservatives abolished the federal database for non-restricted guns, known as the long-gun registry, in 2012.

Quebec fought the Tories all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to receive the data related to Quebec gun owners but lost.

Last April the RCMP destroyed what is believed to be all Quebec non-restricted gun records following the court ruling.

Moreau said he was disappointed his government will have to start collecting data anew, a process he said will cost $17 million.

The annual cost of maintaining the database is estimated at $5 million, he said.

"I think if there is resistance to this law it will be on ideological, not on practical grounds."

Quebec's law enforcement authorities lamented the destruction of the federal registry and Moreau said the province's police forces had been asking his government to create a made-in-Quebec version.

Moreau said the former registry was important for police officers who would use it to know if a house they were called to had a weapon inside.

"The idea is that every gun will have its own number," he said. "We will be able to know where is the gun and who owns the gun."

Heidi Rathjen, co-founder of the Coalition for Gun Control, attended Thursday's news conference and called the bill "extremely good news."

Rathjen was a witness to what has become known as the Montreal Massacre, when a gunman killed 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989.

"Every anniversary (of the massacre) is a time to reflect on how far we've come in terms of gun control," she said. "And for the last nine years it was nothing but bad news. The (Tories) continued to weaken (gun control) and this is the first anniversary since the last nine sad ones that we have good news."

Abolishing the registry was one of the former Conservative government's most publicly stated goals.

The party said the registry was just for show, did nothing to save lives or solve gun crime and cost millions of dollars annually to maintain.

Vic Toews, who was public safety minister at the time, called the registry "simply an attempt to make people feel safe, rather than doing something substantive in criminal law."

Moreau said he's in discussion with the new Liberal government to find out if there is any data left that wasn't destroyed by the Tories.

The Quebec bill provides for penalties from $500 to $5,000 for people who fail to register a non-restricted firearm, while the fines for gun companies range from $1,500 to $15,000.

Moreau's bill received unanimous support, in principle, from all parties represented in Quebec's legislature.

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  • Geneviève Bergeron
    Geneviève Bergeron
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1968
    Area of study: Mechanical engineering

    Geneviève Bergeron was a musician who sang in choir and played in band while attending Ecole FACE in Montreal, a classmate told Victoria News.
  • Hélène Colgan
    Hélène Colgan
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1966
    Area of study: Mechanical engineering

    Hélène Colgan was in her last year of engineering, had a number of job offers and was looking to do a master's degree.
  • Nathalie Croteau
    Nathalie Croteau
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1966
    Area of Study: Mechanical engineering

    Nathalie Croteau had planned to vacation in Cancun, Mexico with Hélène Colgan at the end of December 1989.
  • Barbara Daigneault
    Barbara Daigneault
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1967
    Area of study: Mechanical engineering

    Engineering ran in Barbara Daigneault's family. Her father had taught mechanical engineering at l'Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Anne-Marie Edward
    Anne-Marie Edward
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1968
    Area of study: Chemical engineering

    Anne-Marie Edward was a physically active student who loved diving and skiing.
  • Maud Haviernick
    Maud Haviernick
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1960
    Area of Study: Metallurgical engineering

    Maud Haviernick had previously graduated with a degree in environmental design from l'Université du Québec à Montréal and was into her second year studying metallurgical engineering at Polytechnique.
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
    Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1958
    Area of Study: Nursing at l'Université de Montréal

    A Polish immigrant, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz had immigrated to Montreal with her husband just two years prior.
  • Maryse Laganière
    Maryse Laganière
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1964
    Finance department employee

    The only victim among the 14 who was not a student, Maryse Laganière was a recently-married budget clerk in Polytechnique's finance office.
  • Maryse Leclair
    Maryse Leclair
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1966
    Area of Study: Mechanical engineering

    Maryse Leclair was a distinguished student who was only a year away from graduating when the shootings took place. Her father, police Lt. Pierre Leclair, is the one who found her.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay
    Anne-Marie Lemay
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1967
    Area of Study: Mechanical engineering

    Anne-Marie Lemay, 22, always wanted to help others, her mother told La Seigneurie. She initially wanted to go into medicine but didn't have the grades for it, but was happy to do engineering.
  • Sonia Pelletier
    Sonia Pelletier
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1961
    Area of Study: Mechanical engineering

    Sonia Pelletier was killed just one day before she was set to receive her mechanical engineering degree. She had been the "head of the class" while growing up in Québec's Gaspé Peninsula.
  • Michèle Richard
    Michèle Richard
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1968
    Area of Study: Metallurgical engineering

    Michèle Richard was making a presentation with Maud Haviernick when the shootings happened.
  • Annie St-Arneault
    Annie St-Arneault
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1966
    Area of Study: Mechanical engineering

    Annie St-Arneault wrote a collection of poems that were published by her brother posthumously, La Presse reported.
  • Annie Turcotte
    Annie Turcotte
    École Polytechnique
    Born: 1969
    Area of Study: Metallurgical engineering

    Annie Turcotte, a 20-year-old student, had an environmental consciousness and wanted to protect her planet, The Montreal Gazette reported.