Quebec will control guns if federal Tories won't
Province ready to step in if feds dump gun registry, Charest says
Quebec is ready to impose tougher restrictions on firearms if Ottawa scraps its gun registry, Premier Jean Charest announced Thursday as Anastasia's Law on weapon control was given royal assent.
Bill 9, named in honour of Dawson College shooting victim Anastasia De Sousa, restricts the transportation of weapons on public transit and makes it illegal to possess a firearm on school property.
At the bill's official signing ceremony Thursday,Charest renewed his call on Ottawa to make up its mind about the federal gun registry.
Ideally the registry should remain in effect, but if the Conservative government decides to scrap the program, it should delegate its powers to the provinces, Charest said.
Quebec Justice Minister Jacques Dupuis will take the gun-registry proposal to his counterparts at the next federal-provincial conference, Charest said.
Anastasia's parents, Nelson and Louise De Sousa, urged the federal government to keep its hands off the firearms registry.
"Disabling the gun registry is a big step backwards," declared Nelson De Sousa. "It's a loss. They say it costs a lot of money? Well, it's going to cost a hell of a lot more if you just pull it out. And, they have nothing else to back it up," he said.
The De Sousas would like to see tougher restrictions on who may buy or acquire firearms, and tighter limits on the kinds of weapons available, he said.
Anastasia's Law does not address those issues directly, but does impose an onus on gun-club owners to monitor members' behaviour and report any suspicious activity.
Medical professionals are also encouraged to share suspicious activity or information about their patients, and the law protects whistleblowers from civil recourse– but the legislation doesn't make it mandatory for doctors to flag unusual behaviour.
De Sousa was shot dead at Montreal's Dawson College in Sept. 2006 when Kimveer Gill stormed the post-secondary institution draped in semi-automatic weapons, carrying a bag stuffed with ammunition.
Gill had obtained his weapons legally and was a member of a Montreal shooting-range club.
The Conservative government has signalled its desire to abolish the national firearms registry because it is too costly and ineffective at stopping gun crime.
The registry was created after the 1989 Montreal Massacre, when 14 women were shot dead at the École polytechnique by a lone gunman.
With files from the Canadian Press