Public Safety Canada

Public Safety Canada

November 16, 2007 13:23 ET

Government of Canada Re-Introduces Bill to Abolish the Wasteful Long-Gun Registry

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2007) - Today in the House of Commons, the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, re-introduced important legislative amendments to eliminate the requirement for Canadians to register their non-restricted firearms.

"Our Government has made a commitment to repeal the long-gun registry and we are following through on our promise," said Minister Day. "These legislative amendments will allow us to continue focusing on more effective measures to tackle crime and keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. Our goal is to provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to combat gun violence and other serious crimes."

These proposed amendments will support the Government's overall strategy to tackle violent crime and keep our families and communities safe. This bill would:

- repeal the requirement for businesses and individuals to register non-restricted long-guns; and

- require firearms retailers to record all sales transactions of non-restricted firearms, as was the case prior to the imposition of the long-gun registry.

Gun control measures in Canada continue to include the requirement for gun owners to undergo a background check, pass a firearms safety training course, and hold a valid firearms licence before being able to acquire and possess firearms and to acquire ammunition.

These requirements, in addition to enhanced screening measures announced in Budget 2007, will help to maintain public safety for all Canadians. Individuals will also continue to be required to register prohibited and restricted firearms, such as handguns.

Our police officers will continue to be able to determine who is and is not in legal possession of firearms through a quick check of the Canadian Police Information Centre.

BACKGROUNDER

Legislative changes to the Firearms Act and Criminal Code introduced in Parliament

On May 17, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced a series of non-legislative measures to ease the burdens on firearms owners and to realize efficiencies in the firearms regime. These measures included the following:

- transferring the Canada Firearms Centre and responsibility for the Firearms Act and regulations to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);

- reducing the annual operating budget for the program by $10 million;

- implementing licence renewal fee waivers and refunds until May 16, 2008;

- eliminating physical verification of non-restricted firearms; and

- introducing a one-year amnesty to protect currently licensed and previously-licensed owners of non-restricted firearms from criminal prosecution and to allow them to come into compliance with all laws and regulations by May 17, 2007. (This amnesty was later extended to May 16, 2008.)

The government consulted with provinces, territories and other stakeholders across Canada in the Fall of 2006 on further measures to streamline and improve the Firearms Act. The goal is to identify additional measures that could be undertaken to ensure that gun control in Canada is focused on fighting crime, keeping firearms out of the wrong hands and minimizing burdens on law-abiding gun owners.

Originally introduced in June, 2006 the Bill re-introduced today, once passed, will repeal the requirement for long-gun owners to register their hunting rifles and shotguns. Certain requirements will remain in place. Firearms owners will still require a valid firearms licence to purchase or possess firearms and to purchase ammunition, and will still be required to undergo background checks and pass a firearms safety training course.

The law will also require that the validity of a license be verified when a firearm is purchased to ensure that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands. In addition, as was the case prior to the imposition of the long-gun registry, a requirement for businesses to maintain records of all transactions involving the sale, purchase or disposal of non-restricted firearms will introduced. This is a measure that will assist police investigators in locating owners of stolen firearms or those used in the commission of a crime.

Additional information about the roles and responsibilities of firearm owners in Canada or for information on how recent and proposed changes affect your obligations, please contact the RCMP's Canada Firearms Centre at 1-800-731-4000, or visit their website at http://cfc-cafc.gc.ca.

BACKGROUNDER

The Long-Gun Registry: Costs and Crime Statistics

Costs

- In 1995, the previous government told Parliament that the firearms program, most specifically the long-gun registry, would involve a net cost of just $2 million (Auditor General's Report 2002, Chapter 10).

- In May 2000, the previous government admitted that the costs had actually ballooned to at least $327 million (Auditor General's Report 2002, Chapter 10).

- By March 2005 the net cost of the firearms program was $946 million and by summer of 2006, costs had exceeded $1 billion. The Auditor General stated that Parliament was misinformed about many of these costs. (Auditor General's Report 2006, Chapter 4).

- Neither the costs incurred by provincial and territorial agencies in enforcing the legislation, nor the costs borne by Firearms owners and businesses to comply with the legislation have been calculated. (Auditor General's Report 2002, Chapter 10).

- Two Library of Parliament studies estimate that the enforcement and compliance costs are substantial, running into hundreds of millions of dollars. (Compliance Costs of Firearms Registration, 10 October 2003; and, Estimates of Some of the Costs of Enforcing the Firearms Act, 20 March 2003).

Crime Statistics

- There are nearly 7 million registered long-guns in Canada. Yet of 2,441 homicides recorded in Canada since mandatory long-gun registration was introduced in 2003, fewer than 2 percent (47) were committed with rifles and shotguns known to have been registered. (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics).

- Illegal smuggling by organized crime is by far the principal source of firearms on our streets. Indeed, the Vancouver police report that 97 percent of firearms seized in 2003 were illegal guns smuggled in from the United States, usually by organized crime (Vancouver Police, Strategic Plan 2004-08).

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Stockwell Day
    Minister of Public Safety
    Melisa Leclerc
    Director of Communications
    613-991-2863
    or
    Public Safety Canada
    Media Relations
    613-991-0657
    www.publicsafety.gc.ca