Common Sense Coming to Firearm Licensing

by Guest Author | July 23, 2014
Swiss Arms Sig 550 and Cz 858

The CZ 858 (top) and the Swiss Arms Sig 550 are 2 of the guns that became prohibited after the February classification changes by the RCMP.

Today, Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has announced some significant steps forward for legal firearm owners in Canada.

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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.

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  1. Brill Pappin wrote: Most of those seem like positive steps forward. However, I am *not* in support of grandfathering POL's into PAL's. As someone who recently went though the process of upgrading my POL to a PAL, I can tell you that every hour of instruction and safety testing was valid and warranted. When I got my license (called a FAC at the time), I pretty much didn't have to do a darn thing. Over the years I renewed it time after time, and it eventually transferred to a POL. The safety course I took to upgrade the POL to the PAL was long overdue. Maybe this would be ok if the "mandatory firearms safety courses" is implemented as well (which looks like it may be the point), but I really, really do not want a bunch of people running around, without even the minimal firearms training we currently are required to have. It was good for me, and it's also good for me if the guy next door has the same training. It's not all that hard to do, you just have to make a minimal effort to do it.
  2. Chuck Hugh Farley wrote: when did the rcmp become lawmakers? they even tell strip bar owners how far the dancers are to be from the patrons... wtf? one thing we do not need is those strike breaking native murdering embezzling traitors being our moral compass