Take a look at our most recent handout regarding legislative changes.
Upon taking office in 2006, the Conservative government introduced an amnesty for firearms owners who have not renewed their licenses or register their weapons. The amnesty was extended for one year in 2007 and in 2008. On April 22, 2009 the House of Commons passed a motion introduced by the Bloc Québécois “that, in the opinion of the House, the government should not renew the amnesty regarding the obligations on gun control, which expires on May 16, 2009 and should maintain the registration of all types of firearms.” But the amnesty was renewed again in 2009, 2010 and for two years in 2011.
Shortly after announcing the first amnesty in May 2006, the government tabled Bill C-21 to eliminate the requirement to register rifles and shotguns. The government tabled the same bill in 2007 (C-24). The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the same Bill called S-5 was introduced in the Senate on April 1st, 2009 and that it was through lack of support by the opposition that it did not go through in the previous cases. S-5 died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued in December 2009.
On April 5, 2012, the Conservative majority government adopted its most radical project legislation to date, clearly ignoring the recommendations of the majority of Canadians, including victims of gun violence, women’s groups, experts in suicide prevention, police and trade unions, which are all in favour of gun control, including of the registry of long guns. Security experts say that C-19 will seriously jeopardize public safety, since:
- It requires only voluntary verification of the validity of the buyer’s licence, which increases the chances of unauthorized persons, including those under restraining orders, to have access to rifles and shotguns.
- It eliminated the registration of unrestricted arms sales that had been in place since 1977. The laws introduced since 2006 have all proposed to reinstate the requirement for dealers to register the model and serial number of the guns they sell, as well as the name and address of the buyer.
- It erased the data of 7.1 million rifles and shotguns that were until then registered despite the fact that the data could be useful as an investigative tool; as for tracing firearms and even though it was compatible with the international treaties that require registration in order to reduce illegal traffic. Police associations have expressed that the data was a useful investigative tool for tracing purposes firearms and its destruction will cripple the ability to trace unrestricted firearms to their rightful owners if they last end up being used in crimes. This information provided a valuable tool to help bring criminals to justice, supporting the prosecution of firearms-related crime to the `supply of nearly 18,000 affidavits between 2003 and 2008.
- It destroyed a tool used to remove weapons from dangerous individuals, respect the prohibition orders and take preventive measures, and allow an individual to acquire a license for an unlimited number of firearms without any constraint risen, including semiautomatic powerful weapon such as the Ruger Mini-14 used in the massacre of Polytechnique and sniper rifles.
This Law was immediately challenged in Court by the Province of Quebec, which filed a constitutional complaint and an injunction to prevent the destruction of Quebec’s data. The Quebec government, which enacts that it helped establish the registry, that the data was useful and is therefor in the interest of public safety to maintain the registry.
The Toronto Schlifer Clinic, which supports women victims of violence also filed a challenge to Bill C-19 based on the violation of the life, liberty and security of women under section 7, and on the violation of women’s equality rights under section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Clinic based in Toronto, filed thousands of pages of evidences including affidavits of many experts on the subject, including police officers, health experts and academics.
On July 3, 2012, the government passed regulations that prohibit provinces to require from gun dealers to keep records of their sales of rifles and shotguns, which cancel a measure in place since 1977. It was used to help to trace weapons used in crime and arms dealers who sell to dangerous people. Keeping books records was a Canadian requirement since 1977. However, requiring dealers to keep records of their sales is the international standard and has been proved as an important method to prevent and investigate illegal arms trafficking. Even the United States have a federal requirement for their dealers. The Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Project Ploughshares, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, the victims advocate Priscilla de Villiers and Poly Remembers Group were among those who filed statements against these regulations.
With the adoption of these regulations: the destruction of the registry, the suppression of the mandatory check for the validity of the license for a purchase and the suppression of the registration, it is now impossible to retrieve those weapons if they are found on the illicit market or recovered from a crime scene.