June 22, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
The Government of Canada is taking action to keep our communities safe with common sense gun laws.
As part of the Government’s comprehensive strategy to build safer communities and combat gun and gang violence, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair, announced that effective July 7, 2021 the Government of Canada is expanding mandatory firearms licence background checks to cover the lifetime of an applicant and reinstating the requirement to seek Authorization to Transport (ATT) for restricted and prohibited firearms to most locations.
Expanding background checks to cover an applicant’s lifetime rather than the previous five years is a positive measure that will protect Canadians by helping to prevent individuals who are not authorized to possess a firearm for any reason – such as a history of domestic violence, harassment including a restraining order, or a risk of harm to any person – from obtaining a firearms licence.
Authorization to Transport
Reinstating the requirement to seek ATT for most locations will provide Chief Firearms Officers (CFOs) with more oversight into how restricted and prohibited firearms are transported, other than to and from a shooting range or home after purchase. This will safeguard the movement of these firearms within a community, and give CFOs greater information about transportation patterns and confidence that these firearms are being transported for a “good and sufficient reason” as required by the Firearms Act.
In addition, the Minister tabled the following proposed regulations in both Houses of Parliament on June 21, 2021 that would further strengthen Canada’s robust firearms regime by preventing individuals who are not authorized to possess a non-restricted firearm from obtaining one, and helping law enforcement trace crime guns.
The proposed regulations would require individuals or businesses who are selling or transferring a non-restricted firearm to confirm the buyer/transferee has a valid firearms licence, further protecting public safety by reducing the risk of non-restricted firearms being sold or given to those without a valid licence.
Standardizing best practices among commercial retailers
The proposed regulations would also standardize best practices among commercial retailers by requiring firearms businesses to retain inventory and sales records related to non-restricted firearms, helping to strengthen due diligence practices and support the tracing of crime guns during criminal investigations. The ability to trace a crime gun is valuable for law enforcement and can help uncover illegal activities such as straw purchasing (when an individual who is authorized to purchase a firearm sells or transfers it to someone who is not), as well as identify potential firearms trafficking or patterns of theft of legal firearms.
The proposed regulations will be posted in Canada Gazette, Part I on June 26, 2021 for a 30-day public consultation period. The Government intends to finalize and bring these regulations into force in Fall 2021.
The changes and proposed regulations are part of former Bill C-71, An Act to Amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, which received Royal Assent in June 2019.
Canadian firearms owners are among the most safety conscious in the world and Canada has a strong, common-sense firearms regime in place. These changes and proposed regulations are part of the Government’s comprehensive firearms strategy to protect public safety which includes:
- a prohibition on assault-style firearms and implementation of a buyback program;
- bolstering funding for gang-prevention programming at the local level to counter the social conditions that lead to criminality; and
- providing $86 million in 2018 to the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to tackle firearms smuggling, including increasing the number of detector dog teams and handheld x-ray scanners, and boosting the capacity of the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team.