On May 11, 2022, Minster of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, announced the remaining two elements from Bill C-71 — licence verification and the record-keeping by vendors — would become law, effective May 18, 2022, through an Order in Council.
Please read the Q&A below for more on what this means for Canadian firearms owners.
FAQ: Licence Verification & Record Keeping
Q1: What is the OFAH position on these changes?
A1: Our positions on licence validation and record keeping haven’t changed in the four years since Bill C-71 was first introduced. There is still no evidence-based rationale to support these changes. Much like the failed long gun registry, these licence validation and retailer record-keeping regulations are more window dressing that has siphoned off much needed public attention, public policy improvements, and decades of resources from real public safety concerns related to crime, violence, and the illegal use of firearms. The federal government must stop scapegoating the highly vetted and responsible firearms community for a problem that they can’t possibly solve. The focus must be on ‘need to have’ policies, not ‘nice to have’ policies that will be lucky to even produce marginal gains for public safety. Every possible dollar we have should tackle the real issues and their root causes head on.
Q2: What will be required if I want to sell a non-restricted firearm once this comes into effect?
A2: Individuals will be required to obtain a reference number from the Registrar of Firearms confirming the validity of the transferee’s (buyer’s) firearms licence before transferring a non-restricted firearm.
Q3: How do I submit firearms licence numbers to be verified to receive a reference number?
A3: A reference number may be obtained through the governments Individual Web Services portal or by calling the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) Monday – Friday during normal business hours.
Q4: How long will the licence verification process take?
A4: The federal government has said this process can be done easily and almost instantaneously and should take no longer than 3-5 minutes.
Q5: Will I be required to provide details of the firearm(s) I am selling during this process (i.e., make, model, serial number)?
A5: No. The stated intent of this initiative is to verify that firearms are not being sold to individuals without a valid firearms licence. The requirement to provide any details of the firearm(s) has never been a component of this process.
Q6: If I purchase a firearm(s) from a retailer, will they be registering my information with the government?
A6: No, firearms businesses will be required to obtain a reference number from the Registrar of Firearms confirming the validity of the transferee’s (buyer’s) firearms licence before transferring a non-restricted firearm. The firearms business will also be required to retain sales and inventory records related to non-restricted firearms for a minimum of 20 years. These records belong to the retailer and are not registered with the government.
Q7: How will police be able to access retailer records?
A7: According to the RCMP Website, police will require judicial authorization. During his May 11, 2022 announcement, Minister Mendicino indicated that police will only require reasonable grounds in most cases.
Q8: Is this another form of long gun registry?
A8: This is not a centralized registry like the previous Long Gun Registry. In this case, the records created by businesses will be held by businesses — not the government — and the police will require judicial authorization to access them, according to the RCMP. While this may not technically be a long gun registry, records of firearms are being kept making it a form of decentralized registry; however, the level of record keeping by most businesses won’t change because they already do it as best practices for other purposes (e.g., tax, insurance).
BILL C-71: TIMELINE AND KEY POINTS
- The five key themes highlighted in Bill C-71:
- Lifetime background checks — effective July 7, 2021
- Licence Verification — effective May 18, 2022
- Record-keeping by vendors — effective May 18, 2022
- Classification or Re-Classification of firearms — RCMP — effective June 21, 2019
- Authorization to transport restricted and prohibited firearms — effective July 28, 2021
MAY 29, 2019 UPDATE
Since Bill C-71 was introduced in March 2018, OFAH efforts have included:
- Lobbying MPs and Senators on Parliament Hill
- Critically analyzing Bill C-71 and
- Providing recommendations to improve the Bill for law-abiding firearms owners
- Testifying in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
- Testifying in front of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security & Defence
- Surveying firearms owners to get their reaction, concerns and suggestions on Bill C-71 (over 3,500 responded)
- Coordinating united support from other provinces and territories
- Keeping firearms owners informed of Bill C-71 progress
- Delivering presentations to various OFAH club and Zone groups
Despite influencing positive change to Bill C-71 with these efforts, the Senate voted against any proposed amendments, and on Tuesday May 28, 2019 passed the original bill. Once the bill receives Royal Assent, it will become law.
APRIL 8, 2019 UPDATE
Senators on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (SECD) introduced and ratified some significant amendments to firearms Bill C-71, including more focused background checks, the repeal of provisions removing automatic ATTs, parliamentary reporting on the impacts of classification decisions, and repealing provisions to remove political oversight of classification decisions. Although Bill C-71 remains fundamentally flawed, even with these amendments, the SECD recommendations represent the first time in more than a year of debate that there has been any ground gained by the firearms community.
The amendments must still make it through the Senate and the House of Commons (again) – but at least it is a sign that the logic and reason of the firearms community’s tenacious advocacy is finally beginning to sink in.
APRIL 1, 2019 UPDATE
The OFAH testified in front of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence on firearms Bill C-71.
The OFAH will continue work on behalf of the firearms community. Stay tuned for more updates.
BILL C-71: AN ACT TO AMEND CERTAIN ACTS AND REGULATIONS IN RELATION TO FIREARMS
The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has finished studying Bill C-71. The OFAH went to Parliament Hill on May 30, 2018 to provide testimony to the committee (see below). The Committee’s report on Bill C-71 was presented in the House of Commons on June 12, 2018 and briefly debated (time allocation for debate was restricted). The report recommended only a few amendments, none which addressed the important issues raised by the OFAH during our testimony on the bill. The lack of recognition for legitimate concerns from the firearms community is disappointing, but we are not finished trying to get some significant changes to the proposed legislation.
The Bill passed third reading in the House of Commons and is now at the Senate. It has gone through debate and been referred to the Standing Committee on National Security and Defence. The OFAH has requested to appear before this committee in 2019.
In recent months, OFAH staff has been working to inform Senators of the OFAH position on Bill C-71 and the overall concerns of the firearms community. We will continue our advocacy on Parliament Hill to try to get some traction on meaningful changes to Bill C-71.
- OFAH Podcast on Bill C-71
- Our Brief Submission to the Standing Committee
- Testimony to Standing Committee
- Survey Results
OFAH staff discuss the next steps with federal firearms legislation, Bill C-71.
- CLICK HERE to read OFAH brief submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
- CLICK HERE for text of OFAH TESTIMONY to Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
CLICK HERE to download survey results
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The government’s stated intention of Bill C-71 is to prioritize public safety and respond to increasing trends in gun crime and violence, yet it would seem that the majority of the proposals are focused on lawful firearms users. The government is painting a picture of alarming trends in firearms-related crime and violence to justify the proposed measures and to show action on election platform promises of 2015. Unfortunately, targeting lawful firearms users will not help them achieve their intended goals.
The stats being used to support the need for Bill C-71 reference 2013 (lowest criminal homicides in 50 years) as a baseline to suggest we have a growing problem with firearms in Canada. However, the facts show a long-term decline in firearm-related crime.
Bill C-71 Backgrounder
Published March 26, 2018
Read our critical analysis of the “main” aspects of the Bill
What Can You Do?
You can respectfully contact the Minister of Public Safety and Your Local MP
The Hon. Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
KEY POINTS TO BILL C-71:
- This bill directly affects ALL firearms users, in one way or another. The answers to our outstanding questions (coming soon) will determine the extent.
- As stated by the federal government Bill C-71 is intended to:
- Prioritize public safety by keeping firearms out of the wrong hands;
- Strengthen measures for firearms safety and give police tools to ensure public safety and help solve firearms-related crimes; and,
- Respect law-abiding firearms owners
- Bill C-71 appears to do little to improve public safety as is Instead it appears to put further, unnecessary restrictions and burdens on Canada’s most vetted population
- The OFAH fully recognizes that Bill C-71 will be defined by the finer details and policy mechanisms required to implement the five key themes highlighted in Bill C-71:
- Enhanced background checks
- Licence Verification
- Record-keeping by vendors
- Classification or Re-Classification — RCMP
- The contents of Bill C-71 proposes the remaining aspects of the 2015 Liberal Party’s platform related to firearms. The OFAH provided initial comments to the government in anticipation of these proposed changes, and worked with them in an attempt to ensure they fully understand how changes in policy will affect lawful firearms owners in Canada
- The government has stated it will NOT bring back another long gun registry, but…
- What’s the deal with the Quebec Long Gun Registry files? Bill C-71 says all files will be given to the Quebec Minister upon request. Canadians have been previously told these records no longer exist. Apparently they do. The government needs to address this issue
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