Quebec gun registry no substitute for federal plan, says Montreal police union boss

The Quebec government's proposed long-gun registry is "better than nothing" but is no replacement for a federal registry, says the head of Montreal's police union.

Proposed Quebec registry 'better than nothing,' says Yves Francoeur

Yves Francoeur, head of the Montreal Police Brotherhood, said Quebec's proposed firearms registry, known as Bill 64, is the next best thing to a federal gun registry. (Radio-Canada)

The Quebec government's proposed long-gun registry is "better than nothing" but is no replacement for a federal registry, says the head of Montreal's police union.

Yves Francoeur says a federal firearms registry would be much more effective, but in its absence Quebec's proposed firearms registry, known as Bill 64, is the next best thing.

Created in 1995, Canada's firearm registry was abolished in 2012 by the federal Conservative government.

Bill 64, which was introduced Thursday in Quebec's National Assembly, would require that all long guns in Quebec be registered free of charge.

Interim Public Security Minister Pierre Moreau put the number of such guns in the province at 1.6 million.

The penalty for an individual failing to register a gun would be a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000. 

"It's the best thing the government of Quebec could do under the circumstances," Francoeur said.

Montreal police consulted the federal registry around 300 times a day and lost track of 75,000 long guns when the federal registry was scrapped, Francoeur added.

"For domestic violence cases, for investigation cases, when our officers receive a call to go somewhere and there's a possibility of violence, they have the information with the address, if there are guns inside," he said.

A question of impact

Shawn Bevins, former executive director of Canada's National Firearms Association, disputed the utility of a gun registry as a crime prevention tool.

"Firearms registries and legislation as a whole have little to no impact. There's no correlation between firearms legislation and impact on public safety," Bevins said. 

Bevins also said the vast majority of guns used for criminal purposes are not registered and find their way into Canada illegally via the United States. 

Francis Langlois, a history professor at CEGEP Trois-Rivières who studies firearms issues in the United States, said his research shows gun control measures like registries can work.

"They have a statistical impact," he said.

"In the United States, states that have stricter gun-control measures have lower homicide rates and lower suicide rates."