Strengthening Canada’s Gun Laws

As communities across the country have faced a steady increase in gun-related crime over the past several years, the Government of Canada has strengthened Canada's gun laws in a common-sense and focused way. Former Bill C-71, An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, which received Royal Assent in 2019, provides practical, targeted, and measured steps to help keep Canadians safe. The law prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while respecting responsible firearms owners.

Additional regulations for licence verification and business record-keeping for non-restricted firearms came into force on May 18, 2022. Regulations to expand background checks to cover the lifetime of an applicant and re-instatement of a requirement to apply for an Authorization to Transport to some places came into force in July 2021. Some technical amendments came into force upon Royal Assent in 2019 such as provisions related to the forfeiture of firearms under the Criminal Code. The repeal of a provision that allows government to overrule the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) determination of a firearm's classification will come into force by Order-in-Council once changes have been put in place.

What is the difference between the record-keeping provisions and the defunct long-gun registry?
What is the difference between the record-keeping provisions and the defunct long-gun registry?
  Record-keeping provisions Long-gun registry
Firearms information Held by businesses Held by government
Law enforcement access Access business records on reasonable grounds, and often requires presentation of a judicial authorization. Available to police through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC)
Registration certificates Not required Required and records held by government

Licence verification

The Government of Canada aims to reduce the risk of non-restricted firearms being transferred to those without a valid licence. The legislation requires individuals and businesses transferring/selling a non-restricted firearm to confirm the identity the person acquiring it and verify the validity of the buyer’s firearms licence by contacting the RCMP’s Registrar of Firearms prior to completing the transfer/sale. These Regulations came into force on May 18, 2022.

Record-keeping among commercial retailers

The legislation requires firearms businesses to retain sales and inventory records related to non-restricted firearms, as was the case between 1979 and 2005, in order to strengthen commercial retail due diligence practices and support the tracing of firearms. The records, which must be held for a minimum of 20 years, will be held by businesses — not the government — and the police seeking access to support an investigation will need reasonable grounds to access them, often with judicial authorization. Businesses that cease to operate will be required to submit their records to the Registrar of Firearms (an RCMP official) which must be held for a minimum of 20 years from the date the Registrar receives them. Law enforcement will require judicial authorization to access these records. These Regulations came into force on May 18, 2022.

Expanded background checks

The legislation requires expanded background checks over the lifetime of an applicant seeking to acquire a firearms licence rather than just the five years immediately preceding the application. It also adds criteria that must be considered in deciding whether to grant a firearms licence, including a history of harassment, whether the applicant was ever subject to a restraining order, and whether the applicant poses a risk of harm to any person.

Specific transportation authorizations for restricted and prohibited firearms

The legislation has re-instated the requirement for firearms owners to apply to their Chief Firearms Officer for an Authorization to Transport restricted and prohibited firearms to locations other than a shooting range, or to the firearm's storage place after purchase.

The impartial, professional, accurate and consistent determination of firearms classification

The Government of Canada will ensure the impartial, professional, accurate and consistent determination of firearms classification as either "non-restricted" "restricted" or "prohibited" - restoring a system in which Parliament defines the classes but entrusts technical experts to make a classification determination objectively based on criteria under the Criminal Code. This amendment will come into force at a later date.

For details specific to the implementation of former Bill C-71, refer to the Canadian Firearms Program website or call 1-800-731-4000.

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