Gun sales recorded despite end of long-gun registry

Nova Scotia's firearms dealers are being told to continue recording personal data on long-gun sales despite objections from the Harper government.

The issue is whether mandatory government ledgers amount to a "back-door" long gun registry.

Federal Safety Minister Vic Toews sent a letter to the provinces this week, saying the collection of point-of-sale data is no longer authorized.

But Nova Scotia gun dealers are still mandated by the RCMP to collect information, said Roger Merrick, the province's director of Public Safety Investigations.

"We need to have this information, but it's not going to accessed by the police. It's not for that purpose," said Merrick.

Merrick said the ledgers are used to regulate dealers by allowing authorities to inspect businesses and ensure they are operating properly.

The ledgers record basic information on every unrestricted firearm sold, including the name, address and phone number of the buyer.

But according to one dealer in Lantz, keeping a ledger is just good business practices.

"We've been keeping the ledger before, during and now after the registration," said Jim Hnatiuk. "I don't think it's a big deal. What would be a big deal is who has access to that ledger."

Hnatiuk said it's a valuable tool to track warranties. He said both the provincial and federal governments need to make it clear what information stores are allowed to keep.

Meanwhile, Merrick said the province is trying to determine what the loss of the ledgers would mean.

"We won't be able to determine when firearms come in from the Untied States. We won't be able to determine where they go after point of entry or point of sale. That could be an issue from a regulatory view. It could be an issue from the point of view of the police."

Merrick said the province will continue to use the ledgers until it receives further direction from Ottawa.