What data is in the gun registry?

As the Conservatives battle the Quebec government and others over the controversial gun registry, we dig into the data to find out what information, exactly, is being collected and what the most popular weapons are countrywide.

The Conservative government introduced Bill C-19 in October, which would amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act by scrapping the long-gun registry and order the destruction of all records held in the registry. 

But the Quebec government has since announced the province will take legal action against the federal government to save the long-gun registry data. The province has said it wants to use the data for its own planned long-run registry.

More than 7.6 million firearms have been registered with the federal government. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The data is stored within the Canadian Firearms Information System, which is administered by the RCMP, and gives law enforcement officers access to information about the kind of weapons individuals possess. 

The rifles and shotguns, classified as "non-restricted," were added to a central database managed by the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) located in Miramichi, N.B. This database became known as the long-gun registry.

The registry had previously listed only restricted and prohibited firearms, the other two classifications for guns in the Firearms Act.

According to the RCMP, there are 7.8 million firearms on the books. Of these, 7.1 million (90 per cent) are non-restricted firearms, a category that includes rifles and shotguns, but also some military-style firearms such as the Ruger Mini-14 used in the Montreal Massacre on Dec. 6, 1989, and in the 2011 mass shootings in Norway.

In 2007, the Ottawa Citizen's Glen McGregor filed an Access to Information request for the data in the gun registry. He received some data for more than seven million firearms that had been registered and has since made the information available to the public to download.

The gun owners' name and address was not included in the data received, and only the first two characters of the postal code was provided, so as not to identify the locations of firearms in smaller communities.

The data provided was from November 2006 and was split up into a number of categories including :  

  • Make of weapon (Winchester, Remington, Smith & Weston, etc.).
  • Model.
  • Manufacturer (often the same as make).
  • Type (non restricted, restricted, prohibited).
  • Action (bolt action, single shot, semi-automatic, etc.).
  • Class (rifle, handgun, shotgun).
  • Calibre.
  • Shots.
  • Barrel.
  • Registration date.
  • Province.

While the 2006 figures are somewhat dated, they give an idea of the most popular makes, types and classes of guns across the country and in each province.

According to the 2006 data, the most popular make of gun was a Winchester, followed closely by Remington, then Cooey.

The data also revealed that rifles made up around 58 per cent of the guns registered, followed by shotguns (34 per cent) and handguns (nine per cent).

Ontario registered the most rifles (843,000), followed by Quebec (nearly 600,000), B.C. (367,000) and Alberta (365,000).

Ontario also had registered more shotguns (538,000) followed by Quebec (471,000), Alberta (153,000)  and B.C. (144,000)

Also according to the 2006 data, there were also around 3,000 machine-guns and around 2,800 submachine-guns registered in Canada.

More than 90 per cent of all the guns registered were non-restricted weapons, with six per cent classified as restricted and three per cent prohibited. (Individuals are allowed to have certain prohibited firearms if they were "grandfathered" in.)

The charts and maps below are based on 2006 data and McGregor's information request: