Parliamentary Committee Notes: Foreign Interference: Complementary firearms and gun violence measures
Date: March 20, 2023
Secteur / Agence: CPB
- Our Government has introduced the most significant changes to gun control legislation in more than 40 years.
- This Bill is part of our comprehensive plan to address gun violence in our communities and in our homes.
- In addition, we are taking further steps to deliver on our promises to Canadians, including addressing the root causes of violence, and reducing firearms smuggling at our borders.
- We are investing $250 million through the Building Safer Communities Fund to support municipalities and Indigenous communities combat the issue of gun and gang violence through anti-gang and intervention initiatives.
- We are investing more resources and tools to support RCMP and the CBSA to better detect and disrupt firearms smuggling and trafficking.
- We continue to enhance the sharing of intelligence at our borders to reduce the flow of smuggled firearms. We are working actively with U.S. counterparts through the Cross-Border Firearms Taskforce to share intelligence, co-ordinate investigations and leverage new technologies to better detect gun smuggling and trace crime guns.
- We are committed to doing more to address criminal access to firearms.
- We will address concerns with large capacity magazines and we are closely monitoring developments related to illegally manufactured firearms, including those that are manufactured by 3D printing, assembled from unregulated components, or other emerging technologies.
- Addressing gun violence in Canada requires the collaboration among multiple partners – provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities, and community service providers – in order to make lasting and impactful changes.
- We look forward to continuing to establish and strengthen these partnerships as part of implementing our comprehensive firearms agenda.
The Government of Canada is taking a comprehensive approach to tackling gun violence in Canada. Bill C-21 is one part of this comprehensive strategy, which includes measures to remove prohibited assault-style firearms from our communities by making it mandatory for owners to deactivate or surrender them, increasing capacity to better detect and deter firearm smuggling, trafficking and other criminal firearm-related activity, increase awareness among Canadians of gun violence and gun laws and support municipalities and Indigenous communities address the root causes of gun violence.
Efforts to Combat Firearms Smuggling and Trafficking
The cross-border smuggling of firearms poses a threat to the safety and security of Canada. Given the availability of firearms in the United States (U.S.), including firearms that are strictly controlled or prohibited in Canada, most firearm seizures happen at the Canada-U.S. land border. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) seizes large quantities of firearms every year from U.S. citizens, mostly from non-compliant travellers attempting to retain their personal firearms while travelling. While the total number of firearms successfully smuggled into Canada is unknown, in 2021–2022, CBSA reported a total of 1,203 firearms seized, which is higher than the total firearms seized in the last three fiscal years (548 in 2020-21; 753 in 2019-20; and 696 in 2018-19).
To support detection and interdiction efforts, the Government has provided $125 million through Initiative to Take Action against Gun and Gang Violence (ITAAGGV) to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the CBSA to enhance firearms investigations and strengthen controls at the border to prevent illegal firearms from entering our country. This funding also supports CBSA investments in an all-weather detector dog training facility, additional detector dog teams at key highway crossings, expansion of x-ray technology at postal centres and air cargo facilities, and key training in the detection of concealed goods in vehicles crossing our borders.
In Budget 2021, the Government announced an investment of $312 million over five years, starting in 2021–22, and $41.4 million per year ongoing for PS, CBSA, and the RCMP to enhance Canada’s firearm control framework. Of this amount, the Government is investing $15 million for the RCMP to increase capacity to trace crime guns and $40.4 million to enhance its anti-smuggling activities. The Government is also investing $35.7 million for the CBSA to strengthen border controls to prevent firearms smuggling into Canada. This funding includes program measures that will:
- Strengthen services to support the lawful acquisition, ownership and use of firearms by enhancing RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) services to Canadians and law enforcement;
- Combat illegal firearm-related activities by increasing RCMP capacity to trace crime guns and to continue to build a national system that allows for the flagging of straw purchasing of firearms, and provide RCMP and CBSA with additional resources to target firearms smuggling and trafficking; and,
- Enhance firearms policy advice and promote awareness of firearms programs by establishing capacity for the RCMP to begin the development of a buyback program for those firearms that were prohibited on May 1 2020; increase PS capacity to support the policy, legislative, regulatory, and program measures to deliver on the Government’s firearms commitments; and continue to develop and advance the firearms social marketing campaign that will raise awareness and educate Canadians on the need to reduce violent crimes through a variety of initiatives.
Further, Canada and the U.S. have formed the Cross-Border Firearms Task Force (CBFTF) to identify the primary sources of illicit firearms and to disrupt their flow and the exchange of illicit commodities for such firearms across the shared border.
Guns & Gangs
In March 2022, the Government announced new federal investment of $250 million through the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF). The fund will help municipalities and Indigenous communities prevent gun and gang violence by tackling its root causes. This builds on previous investments of $358.8 million over five years under ITAAGGV to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities. The majority of financial resources, approximately $214 million over five years, are directed to provinces and territories to combat the issue of gun and gang violence in communities across Canada by distributing to partners within their jurisdiction.
Privately Made Firearms/Ghost Guns
The illicit manufacture of firearms is an emerging public safety risk, particularly given trends in the use of 3D printers, gun kits and unregulated parts. “Ghost guns” is a general term used to describe a firearm that is anonymous as to its origins and, therefore, untraceable. 3D-printed firearms are one specific example of ghost guns. Under section 99 of the Criminal Code, it is a criminal offence for any unauthorized person to manufacture a firearm. A licence is required under the Firearms Act to acquire a firearm, including the frame or receiver. The Firearms Act also requires that a business be licenced to manufacture any classification of firearm, restricted or prohibited, or prohibited device regardless of the manufacturing method.
In April 2022, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) tabled their report on the study of gun control, illegal arms trafficking and the increase in gun crimes committed by members of street gangs. As part of the report it was recommended that the Government of Canada a) regulate the possession, sale, and import of firearm component parts such as barrels, slides, and trigger assemblies; b) further investigate the prevalence of, and develop a strategy to counteract the manufacturing of illegal firearms or ghost guns; and, c) amend the definition of a firearm in Section 2 of the Criminal Code to include in its specification of firearms and firearm parts “blank castings of frames or receivers not yet capable of holding various firing components. As part of the Government Response, the Government committed to continue to further examine and analyze additional measures to combat the illegal manufacturing of firearms, such as the 3D printing of firearms.
Prepared by: [REDACTED], Manager, Firearms Policy Division, [REDACTED]
Approved by: Talal Dakalbab, Assistant Deputy Minister, Crime Prevention Branch, 613-852-1167
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