The Quebec National Assembly voted to create a provincial long gun registry yesterday; passing the legislation with an almost unanimous vote of 99 in favour, and just 8 opposed. Those opposed comprised the seven sitting members of the Coalition Avenir Quebec and one independent, formerly of the Parti Quebecois.
The law, which was first introduced in December as Bill 64, will largely mimic the now-defunct federal Long Gun Registry, wherein all long gun serial numbers will be recorded in a database along with the owner’s relevant information. All gun sales will be required to be reported to authorities so the associated amendments to the database can be made.
Quebec’s authorities hope to have the registry in operation by 2018 at an estimated start-up cost of $17 million. Annual operating costs are estimated to be $5 million. Unfortunately for Quebec gun owners, if Quebec’s authorities meet the aforementioned timeline, the registry will be coming online too soon for any new provincial government to step in, as the next provincial election is scheduled for the fall of 2018.
For comparison’s sake, the federal long gun registry was estimated to cost $119 million to start up, but wound up carrying a price tag of over a billion dollars for taxpayers. The provincial government’s estimate of $17 million to start the provincial registry is just 14% of the federal government’s initial estimate to start the national long gun registry in 1995, and a laughable 1.7% of the actual cost of the federal program. Quebec is currently home to roughly 493,507 gun license owners; roughly 25% of the national total.
This news of the registry’s passage may come as a surprise, as the years following the cancellation of Canada’s costly federal long gun registry saw a continued declination of violent crime across the country. Additionally, Quebec’s longstanding reliance on receiving federal equalization payments that are over double that of any other province will make the costs of their provincial registry open to discussion nationally, as Canadians from coast to coast will be left to ponder why their federal government is once again funding a program that’s already been proven a failure on a national scale.