Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper`s minority government was narrowly defeated in its bid to end controls on hunting rifles and shotguns, in a major political upset.
Parliamentarians voted 153 to 151 to defeat a bill to repeal the long-gun registry act, after a divisive debate that could have lasting repercussions in the next elections.
Still Harper vowed to continue the fight.
"The people of the regions of this country are never going to accept being treated like criminals and we will continue our efforts until this registry is finally abolished," he said.
The 15-year-old registry of 6.5 million rifles and shotguns was brought in by a former Liberal government in 1995 in response to the killing of 14 women at Montreal`s Ecole Polytechnique six years earlier.
Police and victims groups have praised the firearms registry, saying it has contributed to public safety. But it is hugely unpopular in rural Canada with farmers and hunters, and critics brand it a wasteful attack on law-abiding gun owners.
Canadians are almost equally split on the issue, with a slight majority saying they believe it has helped reduce crime, according to the latest polls.