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Bill C-71 Backgrounder

Bill C-71 Review (critical analysis of the “main” aspects of the Bill)
NOTE: The following information only includes the main questions surrounding the Bill at the current time (March 26, 2018). The OFAH plans to provide more comprehensive comments and questions in formal submissions to the Government of Canada as this Bill makes its way through the legislative process.

1) Enhanced background checks

What we know:

  • The Bill removes the reference or time frame “within the previous five-years” from subsection 5(2) of the act and replaces with “life history”.
  • Currently there is a high standard to determine eligibility through ‘continuous eligibility’ screening, done daily through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) to determine whether a licence holder has been the subject of an incident report.

What we don’t know:

  • What process will be used once an individual has been flagged for further examination? Is there a case-by-case review, interview, reference checks, etc.?
  • Do the proposed changes offer value-added for public safety relative to the current continuous eligibility system?
  • Is there an appeal system in place?

2) Licence Verification

What we know:

  • Anyone selling or “giving” a non-restricted firearm will now have to require proof of a firearms licence AND verify the validity of that licence with the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP).
  • The registrar will issue a reference number once the licence has been confirmed, and is valid for a prescribed period.
  • No information beyond what the CFP already has on file regarding the non-restricted firearm being transferred will be required.
  • Private sales of non-restricted firearms occur regularly, and outside normal business hours.

What we don’t know:

  • How is ‘giving’ defined within the Bill? Does it include gifting and lending?
  • What avenues will be available for an individual to verify a licence (online, telephone)?
  • Will these services be available 24/7 – 365 days a year?  If not, why?
  • Will there be sufficient human and financial resources available to ensure the volume of sales won’t negatively affect “service times”?
  • How will the CFP use the information provided (about the transaction) and reference number (i.e. what is the primary focus/reasoning for collecting information and providing a reference number)?

3) Record-keeping by Vendors

What we know:

  • This applies to ALL businesses (as conditions on their licence to sell firearms), and does not apply to private sellers.
  • All businesses will be required to keep records of the sale of all firearms and their purchasers.
  • All businesses will be required to record, and for the prescribed period, keep the prescribed information that relates to the business’ possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms.
  • Businesses, NOT government, will hold these records.
  • This proposal is intended to provide police services with a tool, or “starting point” in an investigation of a firearm-related crime.
  • Records will be available to law enforcement with judicial authority, as appropriate.
  • Businesses will be required to keep records for a period of 20 years from the day in which the business transfer occurred (potentially longer if prescribed).
  • Information to be kept includes:
    • Reference number issued by the Registrar;
    • The day in which the reference number was issued;
    • The transferee’s licence number; and,
    • The firearm’s make, model and type, and, if any, its serial number.
  • If it is determined that a business will cease to be a business, all records must be given to a prescribed official (unless otherwise directed by a chief firearms officer).

What we don’t know:

  • Upon judicial intervention, what will the process be (for law enforcement and vendors) for securing vendor records?
  • Will all records be available from the vendor or only those of the individual in question? What safeguards are in place to ensure that ONLY the records of the individual being investigated are released?
  • An example of who “prescribed officials” would be in the event a business ceases to exist and must transfer over all of the files they have on record?

4) ATTs – Transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms

What we know:

  • Discretion for a Chief Firearms Office to authorize transport of restricted and prohibited firearms would be reinstated.
  • Only automatic ATTs to remain would be for:
    • To an owner’s home following the purchase of the firearm; and,
    • To approved shooting clubs or ranges with the province of residence.
  • ANY other transportation would require an “additional ATT” from the CFO, including some locations where an automatic ATT is currently permitted:
    • To a gunsmith;
    • To cross a border; and,
    • To a gun show.

What we don’t know:

  • The current rules are straightforward – if you are found in possession of restricted or prohibited firearms in an unauthorized location, then you are breaking the law, so how does the removal of the automatic ATT for transportation to a gunsmith, to cross a border or to a gun show, which is currently attached to a fully vetted firearms owner, reduce crime?
  • What evidence exists that clearly shows the presence of automatic ATTs for transport to these three types of location is a significant issue?

5) Consistent approach to classification – RCMP

What we know:

  • This bill would remove the ability to allow the Governor in Council (GIC) to downgrade the classification of a firearm, giving sole discretion back to the RCMP.
  • The CZ and SAN Swiss Arms firearms would now revert back to being prohibited firearms.
  • Current owners of these firearms would be grandfathered, if they comply with the new regulations (if the individual possessed one or more before June 30, 2018).
  • Government would permit an amnesty period for owners to comply with grandfathering requirements.
  • The GIC would be given the authority to grandfather future cases, but not downgrade.

What we don’t know:

  • How long is the amnesty period being permitted to owners?
  • Government obviously sees value in the input from the GIC, given the fact that they will still be permitted to “grandfather” future cases, but not enough to offer opinion or feedback?  Why?

6) Long Gun Registry – Quebec

It appears that ALL records will be given to the Quebec Minister upon request – not solely Quebec records, ALL records.

Page 13 section 28 (Permission to view records) clearly states:

  • “The commissioner of Firearms shall permit the Information Commissioner to view – for the purpose of settling the Federal Court proceeding Information Commissioner of Canada v. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, bearing court file number T-785-15- any record that was in the Canadian Firearms Registry on April 3, 2015.”

Furthermore, page 13 section 29 (2) – Notice, clearly states:

  • “If no request is provided under subsection (1) before the Commissioner is in a position to proceed with ensuring the destruction of the records referred to in that subsection, the Commissioner shall, as soon as he or she is in that position, send written notice to the Quebec Minister of that fact.”

It then goes on listing some further subsections about delaying the process.

The point is that these records, ALL records, still exist today, despite what has been previously told to Canadians.  This is unacceptable

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