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Canadians have had to register their rifles since a law was passed in the wake of a 1989 massacre. A 25-year old came into an engineering school in Montreal that year with a semiautomatic hunting rifle. Saying “I hate feminists,” the man separated men from women and then killed 14 female students before killing himself. The Canadian parliament passed a long-gun registry, and, according to a New York Times column, “few issues since have so divided rural and urban Canadians.” Now Parliament is ready to repeal that law. (Hand guns and military style rifles would continue to be registered.)
A Conservative government was elected in 2006 and a move was soon on to repeal the law, which the police support. “Canada is suddenly changing into a place that loves guns and armies and war,” said Gerald L. Caplan, a prominent academic and former campaign director of the liberal New Democratic Party. “I don’t know how we got there but I don’t like it.”
Homicide deaths have declined since the bill was passed, according to the Times, but rates were declining before the law was passed and it’s hard to tell how much effect the long-gun registry has had. Hunters hate the law, finding it intrusive and useless. The Conservatives have run ads in rural areas represented by opposition members and, sure enough, 8 Liberals and 12 New Democrats have voted to do away with the registry in preliminary tallies. The final vote will be taken early next year.