Half of respondents believe a complete ban on handguns would be justified, while two-in-five disagree with this notion.

As a decision on the future of the Canadian Firearms Registry draws near, Canadians hold differing views on whether the so-called long gun registry should be scrapped, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative sample of 1,005 Canadian adults also finds that respondents are almost evenly divided on whether it should be illegal for ordinary citizens to own firearms.

Gun Violence

Seven-in-ten Canadians (70%) believe gun violence in Canada is a “very serious” or “moderately serious” problem.

About half of respondents (49%) think implementing a complete ban on handguns would be justified, since current regulations are not working and guns stolen from legal owners are being used in crimes. Conversely, two-in-five Canadians (39%) believe a complete ban would be unjustified, as it would affect law-abiding Canadians such as collectors and target shooters.

Ontarians, Quebecers and British Columbians tend to side with the pro-ban argument, while Albertans, Atlantic Canadians and those in the Prairie Provinces are more likely to reject this notion.

The Registry

The Canadian Firearms Registry, also known as the long gun registry, requires the registration of all non-restricted firearms in Canada. Two-in-five Canadians (43%) believe the registry has been unsuccessful in preventing crime in Canada, while three-in-ten (29%) think it has had no effect on crime. Only 13 per cent of respondents believe the Canadian Firearms Registry has been successful.

A plurality of Canadians (44%) calls for scrapping the long gun registry—including large majorities in the Prairies (65%) and Alberta (59%). More than a third of respondents (35%) are opposed to this course of action, including 51 per cent of Quebecers.

Since a survey conducted in November 2009, the proportion of Canadians who oppose the long gun registry has dropped by seven points, while the proportion of supporters has increased by one point.

Canadian are split on another question, with 40 per cent of respondents saying it should be legal for ordinary citizens to own firearms, and 45 per cent wanting to make this illegal. There are some major geographic differences on this question, with majorities in Quebec (54%) and Ontario (53%) wanting to keep firearms away from ordinary citizens, and more than half of Albertans (51%) expressing support for the legality of this practice.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)