New Measures on Firearms
Bill C-71: An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relations to Firearms
Following up on its commitment, the Government of Canada introduced legislation that prioritizes public safety and is practical for firearms owners.
Enhance background checks
The Government of Canada is proposing that, in determining if a person is eligible to hold a firearms licence, authorities now be required to consider certain eligibility factors (e.g., a history of violent behaviour), for the entire span of a person's life rather than only the preceding five years.
Enhance effectiveness of existing licencing system
The Government of Canada aims to reduce the risk of non-restricted firearms being sold or given to those without a valid licence. The proposed measures would require individuals and businesses transferring a non-restricted firearm to confirm the validity of the firearms licence of the person acquiring it with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)'s Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) prior to completing the transfer.
The practice of verifying licences prior to transferring a non-restricted firearm is currently voluntary, but would be required by law under this proposed legislation, and, therefore, help to limit unauthorized access to firearms. This process would help firearms owners and businesses to be certain that they only transfer firearms to people who are properly licensed to own them.
The CFP would maintain a record of a transferor's enquiry regarding licence validity, including the licence numbers of the transferor and the intended transferee, and the date. No details regarding the firearm being transferred would be provided to the CFP.
Standardize existing best practices among commercial retailers
The Government of Canada is proposing measures to require firearms businesses to retain transfer and inventory records related to non-restricted firearms in order to strengthen due diligence practices and support the tracing of firearms. Tracing firearms is useful in informing law enforcement during criminal investigations.
Tracing is the systematic tracking of the history of recovered or seized firearms from the point of manufacture or importation, through the supply chain, until they become illicit. To support effective tracing, firearms businesses will be required to maintain records which would include the reference number of the licence verification issued by the CFP, the date the reference number was issued, the licence number of the transferee, and information on the firearm that is transferred (e.g. serial number, make, model, and type). Firearms businesses would be required to maintain the records for a minimum period of 20 years. These records would be held by the business only – not law enforcement or government.
The ability to trace firearms can help law enforcement save time and resources in criminal investigations by identifying the original owner of a firearm. This can help to expedite investigations, build evidence to secure a conviction, and identify firearms trafficking networks.
Ensure the impartial, professional, accurate and consistent classification of firearms
The CFP has the expertise to make the technical determinations regarding firearms classification under the Criminal Code and will continue serving as the authority on firearms classification determinations.
The Governor in Council authority to deem prohibited and restricted firearms as being a less restrictive class would be repealed to ensure consistency with the Criminal Code. This would result in some firearms currently classified as non-restricted or restricted reverting to their original classification of prohibited.
This measure would also be accompanied by a grandfathering process to allow owners of the affected firearms to retain their firearms, provided they take the steps required in the legislation. For owners of the Ceská Zbrojovka and SAN Swiss Arms firearms impacted by the repealed status, the Government will pursue measures (such as an amnesty) to protect owners from criminal liability for possession of a prohibited firearm while they are coming into compliance with the grandfathering requirements.
Bolster community safety by requiring specific transportation authorizations for restricted and prohibited firearms
The Government of Canada is proposing to repeal measures that allow restricted and prohibited firearms to be more freely transported, and to reinstate Chief Firearm Officer's discretion to issue authorizations to transport such firearms to certain locations.
Non-restricted firearms, which represent the majority of firearms owned by Canadians, would not be impacted by these changes because they do not require authorizations to be transported.
Authorizations to transport restricted firearms or certain grandfathered prohibited firearms to approved shooting clubs or ranges within a province of residence, which is the most common activity for restricted firearms, would not be affected. Transportation from the point of purchase to home would also not be affected.
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