MONTREAL - The plan to kill the federal gun registry is stirring emotional responses in Montreal as the 20th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre approaches.

With the future of the firearms registry up for a free vote Wednesday in the House of Commons, Montreal's police chief pleaded with politicians to keep it alive.

In a rare political statement issued from his office, Yvan Delorme cited a specific case where the registry may have helped Montreal officers prevent another gun rampage.

He made his plea on the same day that a gun victim's mother was published in an open letter urging politicians to support the registry.

Dec. 6 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Polytechnique rampage, where gunman Marc Lepine stormed into a university with a rifle, killed 14 female students, and wounded 27 other people.

Delorme stressed that the registry was inspired by the Polytechnique massacre - and he said all the money spent to create the registry would be completely wasted if it were eliminated.

He dismissed critics who have called the registry a billion-dollar boondoggle.

"Its existence is essential, primarily for security reasons, but also because the investments already made would be entirely wasted," Delorme said.

"Yes, the registry could be improved but we consider it an important tool to minimize the risks associated with guns."

Delorme described how, shortly after the 2007 Dawson College shooting, police received a report that another individual had been making similar threats.

The registry alerted officers that this person actually owned several guns - which officers seized, Delorme said.

The mother of Anne-Marie Edward, one of the women gunned down at Polytechnique, said Tuesday that she's disappointed the Conservatives have dedicated so much energy to eliminating the registry.

"Shoulder firearms kill just like handguns," Suzanne Laplante-Edward, who passionately campaigned for the creation of the registry, wrote in a published letter.

Laplante-Edward recalled how she travelled to Ottawa in the spring to remind parliamentarians of the kind of devastation a single rifle can inflict in just 22 minutes.

She recalled how both NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff personally promised her they would stop Prime Minister Stephen Harper from abolishing the registry.

Now, Laplante-Edward said she's disappointed that neither the NDP nor the Liberals appear prepared to vote down the private member's bill introduced by Tory MP Candice Hoeppner.

The opposition parties are mainly allowing their members to vote freely on the issue. In the meantime, the Conservatives are spending money on ads in rural ridings to pressure MPs to vote along with them.

"It's clear that the Canadian firearms lobby (like the American NRA) and the Conservatives have lots of money to spend for campaigns and advertisements," she wrote.

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