Today, Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has announced some significant steps forward for legal firearm owners in Canada.
To start, he announced the coming-into-force of an expanded Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2014) that will ensure that law-abiding owners of CZ858 or Swiss Arms family of rifles are able to use and stay in possession of these firearms.
Also, the government intends to table the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, which includes the following:
- merge the Possession Only Licence (POL) and the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL);
- restrict the ability of Chief Firearms Officers to make arbitrary decisions;
- create a grace period at the end of the 5-year licence to stop people from immediately becoming criminalized for paperwork errors;
- end needless paperwork around Authorizations to Transport by making them a condition of a licence;
- require mandatory firearms safety courses for first-time gun owners; and
- strengthen firearms prohibitions for those who are convicted of domestic violence offences.
These intended amendments would streamline licensing and eliminate needless red tape. This announcement is in response to the uproar created in late February when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police changed the class of some Swiss Arms and CZ 858 rifles from non-restricted to prohibited, which turned legal firearms owners into criminals overnight.
These changes, if passed, mean that those with a POL will be grandfathered to a PAL licence. For those with restricted licences, there will be less red-tape around getting an authorization to transport (ATT). It is expected that the ATT will be printed on (or with) a restricted licence in the future. These changes are being introduced in parliament in September.
“Quite simply, the changes introduced today by the Harper government and Minister Blaney will strike a balance between the need to remove administrative burdens on legal, law-abiding firearms owners in Canada, and the government’s intention to protect and enhance public safety,” said Greg Farrant, OFAH manager of government affairs and policy.
“We are delighted with Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s common sense approach to introducing fairer firearms laws,” said the Canadian Shooting Sports Association in a release.