One of the legacies of the former Liberal Government we inherited when forming Government in 2006 was the infamous and wasteful ‘long gun registry’. On numerous occasions between 2006 and 2011, we tried to eliminate this horrible legislation. However, because we had a minority Government, the Opposition parties blocked us from doing so. I am happy to report our Government has not only scrapped the long gun registry, but we have now introduced legislation to bring common sense to our firearms licensing regime.
The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act will build on the significant action we have already taken to combat the criminal use of firearms and ensure a strong licensing system. It also continues our balanced approach- one that is helping us protect the safety of Canadians, while at the same time, reducing the administrative burden for law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters.
First, we are proposing changes to the licensing system to:
• Streamline the licensing system by eliminating the Possession Only Licence and convert all such existing licences to Possession and Acquisition Licences
• Allow licence holders to retain lawful possession of their firearms, up to a period of six months beyond the expiry date on their licence, without the possibility of criminal sanctions for simply possessing their firearms
• Make classroom participation in firearms safety training mandatory
• Make important changes to the Authorizations to Transport when engaged in the routine transport of firearms.
These are common-sense improvements to the licensing system that will provide additional clarity to law-abiding firearms owners — all the while protecting the safety of Canadians.
This proposed legislation would also amend the Criminal Code to ensure that the property rights of lawful firearms owners are protected. To this end, we would amend the Criminal Code so that it contains a definition of non-restricted firearms, which it currently does not. Moreover, we propose to give the Governor in Council the ability to make firearms non-restricted or restricted, in appropriate circumstances. We anticipate this authority being used in limited circumstances, such as if firearms are reclassified to be restricted or prohibited.
This Bill also proposes important changes to the broader firearms controls regime. It would allow for improved information-sharing between the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP with respect to the commercial importation of restricted and prohibited firearms into Canada. It would also clarify that the discretionary authority granted to Chief Firearms Officers under the Firearms Act can be limited by regulation. This will help ensure, as appropriate and as needed, that the firearms program is applied fairly across the country.
And finally, consistent with our Government’s strong commitment to support families and stand up for victims of crime, we have also proposed a meaningful change that will allow us to better protect victims of domestic violence.
Specifically, this Bill would amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the provisions prohibiting the possession of weapons, including firearms, when a person is sentenced for an offence involving domestic violence. In this way, we can ensure that the firearms regime is actually targeting those we need to target in the name of public safety – those who have demonstrated that they pose a threat to society, particularly aimed at women and children in their homes.
I believe that the measures proposed in this Bill are common-sense and balanced. Moreover, they will enable us to better protect public safety and, at the same time, alleviate administrative burdens on law-abiding gun owners across the country.