Justin Kam from The Shooting Edge in Calgary
Credits: DARREN MAKOWICHUK/CALGARY SUN QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Ontario has slammed shut its back door gun registry.
Reversing the province's previous position, Ontario's chief firearms officer (CFO) announced Wednesday a letter will be sent to gun stores this week, telling merchants they will no longer be compelled to keep personal information on buyers.
Nova Scotia is also ending the controversial practice.
The CFO also said existing long-gun registry data - including the paper ledgers - will be destroyed.
Both provinces had earlier ordered gun shops to continue keeping the data despite the federal government axing its long-gun registry in the spring.
The move angered licensed gun owners who said the practice mirrored the long-gun registry by another name.
Last week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, frustrated by the continued collection of data, changed a regulation in the firearms act, which directly ordered all provincial firearms officers to stop forcing gun shops to write down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of buyers, as well as the types of rifles and shotguns being purchased.
"My understanding of the law is that the federal government passed this with the intention that all of this information be destroyed. We are going by the law," said Chris Wyatt, chief firearms officer for Ontario. "We are going to do two phases. We will collect the long gun information and have it destroyed as soon as possible, and then we will ask the merchants to separate the papers that are mixed with restricted weapons and hand guns, and then have the long gun portions blacked out and destroyed."
On Tuesday, the justice ministry in Nova Scotia announced it will also send out letters to all gun sellers, telling them they are no longer required to keep buyers' information.
"We have now received direction from the federal program, the RCMP, indicating that businesses are no longer required to collect and maintain that data for our use," said Roger Merrick, the province's director of public safety investigations.
Merrick said the province told its gun sellers to keep the information prior to this because they hadn't been specifically directed to stop.
"The businesses can still keep the information for their own purposes - say if someone writes them a cheque. But it will no longer be collected by the government."
Nova Scotia ledgers with the personal information were kept by the stores, or locked in a vault controlled by the province, and Merrick says those past records will stay there because the long gun information is mixed in with restricted handgun data and it would be impossible to sift out and destroy.
The NDP government of Nova Scotia says it has no intention of starting a provincial registry.
Ontario has said the same, but some Toronto city politicians have expressed interest in a city gun registry, along with a ban on any and all ammunition.