CAQ government softens long-gun registry requirements as compliance deadline approaches

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced three key changes to Quebec's new registry, which she hopes will make gun owners more willing to sign on.

Public security minister says looser conditions will encourage gun owners to sign on to registry

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the gun owners still must register their long guns by the Jan. 29 deadline, although she has loosened some of the requirements in response to pressure. (Radio-Canada)

With less than a week before the deadline to register long guns in Quebec, the provincial government is loosening the requirements for long-gun owners.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault made the announcement at the National Assembly Wednesday, saying she's hopeful that changing the requirements to register long guns will increase compliance.

The registry is set to go into effect on Jan. 29, but it's faced pushback from gun owners.

Almost 80 per cent have not yet registered their weapons, either because they're choosing to wait until the last minute to do so or because they're boycotting the process altogether.

"What we are announcing today is first and foremost that we support the gun registry," Guilbault said. "It is here to stay."

However, under the new rules, gun owners will have more time to let the registry know if they're changing the location of the gun, for example, if they take it out hunting, and they no longer need to register the length of the barrel when they register the gun.

There will also be changes to the procedure involving when a gun owner must show the firearm's registration number to a peace officer. 

Guns like this Canadian-made Enfield rifle will have to be registered in Quebec by Jan. 29, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Gun owners still oppose registry

Quebec is the only province requiring that long guns — including shotguns and rifles — be registered.

Luc Boucher, ​the head of a non-for-profit organization against Quebec's gun registry, said he doesn't believe the changes announced by Guilbault Wednesday will persuade gun owners to support the registry.

"Gun owners feel targeted by this law, which they find unjust," Boucher said.

Alain Cossette, the director of Quebec's federation of hunters and fishermen, said Wednesday that although his organization still opposes the law and will lobby for its abolition, gun owners should comply by the set deadline. 

Gun control advocates call for tighter rules

Gun control advocates like Heidi Rathjen, meanwhile, continue to call for tighter measures.

"We have not compromised on any of our positions," said Rathjen.

She said there are still challenges ahead, such as ensuring the registry is fully enforced.

"But there has been no compromise on public safety," she said.

​Registration spike

The MNA for Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Québec Solidaire's Émilise Lessard-Therrien, joined those encouraging gun owners to sign onto the registry. She posted a video to Facebook, explaining the registration process while she listed her two guns. 

Guilbault said although most of the guns in the province have not yet been registered, there has been a significant spike in registrations in recent weeks, as the deadline approaches.

She said it will go into effect as planned, and fines of up to $5,000 will be issued for non-compliance. 

With files from Cathy Senay