OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada took a step on Wednesday to scrapping a controversial gun registry, though rules will still remain much tougher than in the United States.
The House of Commons approved in principle a bill that would eliminate a decade-old registry of long guns such as hunting rifles and shotguns.
Gun owners would still require licenses for themselves as individuals, and a registry of handguns would remain, but if the bill finally passes it would be a major defeat for the gun-control lobby.
The previous Liberal government brought in the long-gun registry in response to the use of a semi-automatic rifle to murder 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989 but the strict new law angered hunters and rural residents across the country.
Such a rifle would no longer have to be registered, but opponents of the registry say it did nothing to prevent another Montreal college shooting in 2006, when a semi-automatic rifle was used, despite the fact that it was properly registered.
Gun-control advocates say it doesn't make sense to have to register cars and not guns, while opponents say this goes after law-abiding farmers and hunters rather than criminals.
The Conservatives, who have long argued the registry is ineffective and too costly, won enough support from rural opposition party members for initial passage of what was put forward as a private-member's bill.
The measure was approved 164 to 137.
It will now go to committee and eventually will have to pass the Liberal-dominated Senate. It would probably die if an election were called in the next half year or so but otherwise could well become law.
Reporting by Randall Palmer and Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson