New measures tabled today by the federal government are poised to seriously change the laws and regulations governing firearms. The most significant change appears to be a national freeze placed on the purchase, sale, importation and transfer of handguns in Canada. Other changes include red/yellow flag laws, magazine limits, and some air gun prohibitions – among many other categories.

“In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns. As we see gun violence rise, it is our duty to keep taking action.”

In introducing Bill C-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and (Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino) explain the federal government’s strengthening of gun control measures across Canada – pivoting away from the a recent federal proposal which would have seen municipalities able to enact their own handgun bans.

As this story of new laws unfolds, the newly-introduced Bill C-21 appears to have been tabled alongside separate Order-in-Council and regulatory measures announced simultaneously. There will be more information later: legislation will need passing, Orders-in-Council will need enacting, and instructors in the Canadian Firearms Program will need to be updated with the new rules as they become clear.

In the meanwhile, the sale/transfer/import/buying of the affected firearms appears unchanged until such time as the new legislation comes into force. It appears the handgun ban portions of the changes are being handled via the Act, rather than by Order-in-Council. This is important because it affects the timing of what appear to be some of the most impactful changes.

PMJT introduces C-21, flanked by key ministers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – flanked by key ministers – introducing new gun control measures on May 30, 2022. The Government of Canada is introducing Bill C-21, and is also using Order-in-Councils for pending new firearms rules this summer.

At this time, questions about pending legislation should be directed to your Member of Parliament, or the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program which is better equipped to answer questions at this time. We all learn about the new rules at the same time, as they are codified and shared with instructors.

RGSL complies with all directives from the CFO, RCMP, and government/support agencies in order to help keep Saskatchewan safe!

RGSL runs Non-Restricted and Restricted gun license safety courses in Regina and Saskatoon, check out the list of upcoming classes here. 

The content on RGSL.CA is not legal advice – please consult a lawyer for legal advice.

FULL CONTENTS: NEW GOVERNMENT OF CANADA RELEASE: BILL C-21, PUBLIC SAFETY CANADA (MAY 30, 2022)

A comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun laws in Canada: BILL C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) and regulatory amendments, to advance the national ‘freeze’ on handguns, are part of a comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun control in Canada.

Learn about proposed amendments relating to:

  • National “freeze” on handguns
  • New “red and yellow flag” laws and expanded licence revocation
  • Combatting firearms smuggling and trafficking
  • Prohibiting mid-velocity ‘replica’ airguns
  • Coming into Force chart for Bill C-21

National “freeze” on handguns

A national “freeze” on the sale, purchase or transfer of handguns by individuals within Canada, and bringing newly-acquired firearms into Canada.

Individuals could continue to possess and use their registered handguns and could sell or transfer their registered handguns to exempted individuals or businesses.

Businesses

  • Authorized businesses with proper storage (i.e., retailers) could continue to import and sell handguns to other businesses (e.g., gunsmiths, museums, valuable goods carriers), law enforcement, defence personnel and exempted individuals.

Exemptions

  • Anyone who holds an Authorization to Carry handguns as part of their job (e.g., security guard for valuable good carriers) and individuals who have an Authorization to Carry handguns for protection; and,
  • Authorized high-performance sport shooting athletes and coaches.

Action on handguns cannot wait. Regulatory amendments to advance the national ‘freeze’ on handguns have been tabled in both  the House of Commons and the Senate. These regulations will come into force once the Parliamentary tabling requirements under the Firearms Act are complete, expected in Fall 2022.

“Red flag” law, “yellow flag” law and expanded licence revocation

Protecting the safety and security of victims of intimate partner violence and gender-based violence is of paramount importance. Victims need to feel protected and fully supported when they ask for help.

“Red flag” law

The new “red flag” law would:

  • Enable anyone to make an application to a court for an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) to immediately remove firearms, for up to 30 days, from:
    • an individual who may pose a danger to themselves or others; and
    • an individual who may be at risk of providing access to firearms to another person who is already subject to a weapons prohibition order.
  • Protect the safety of “red flag” applicants and those known to them, if needed, by giving a judge the option to:
    • close a “red flag” hearing’s proceedings to the public and media;
    • seal the court documents for up to 30 days, or remove any information that could identify the applicant for any period of time that the judge deems necessary, including on a permanent basis.

Individuals who are subject to an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) could be required to:

  • surrender their firearm(s) to law enforcement; or
  • have the firearm(s) removed temporarily on an urgent basis through a seizure order from the court.

These emergency weapons prohibition orders would help to address situations where an individual poses a risk to themselves, their family, or to public safety, including perpetrators of intimate partner and gender-based violence, people at risk of suicide, and radicalized individuals.

Limitation on access orders would address situations where an individual subject to a prohibition order could have access to a third-party’s weapon.

New applications for an emergency weapons prohibition order could be made, and the court could set a hearing for a longer-term prohibition order (up to 5 years) if there continues to be reasonable grounds to believe that the individual poses a public safety risk.

A program would be developed to help raise awareness and provide tools to victims and supporting organizations on how to use the “red flag” provisions and protections. It would support vulnerable and marginalized groups including women, Indigenous people and other racialized communities and people with mental health issues, to ensure that the “red flag” law is accessible to all, particularly those who may need it the most.

“Yellow flag” law

Introduce a new “yellow flag” law that would allow:

  • a Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) to temporarily suspend an individual’s licence for up to 30 days when there is a reason to suspect the person is no longer eligible to hold a firearms licence (e.g., suspected of illegally reselling firearms);
  • any member of the public to contact a CFO with information about a licence holder;
  • a CFO to use the 30-day suspension to investigate a claim and revoke a licence if there is evidence to support it.

The licence holder would not be able to use, acquire or import new firearms during the temporary 30-day suspension period but would retain possession of their current firearm(s).

If an investigation determines that the individual continues to be eligible to hold a firearms licence, their use and acquisition privileges would be immediately reinstated.

Expanded licence revocation

Following the coming into force of the legislation, the extended licence revocation authority would help protect those in danger from firearms violence and would permit a Chief Firearms Officers (CFO) to revoke a firearms licence:

  • in cases of domestic violence and/or criminal harassment (e.g., stalking);
  • when a protection order has been issued against a current licence holder;
  • when an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) is issued by a judge against a current licence holder.

CFOs would not issue a firearms licence to anyone who at the time they apply is, or has previously been, subject to a protection order related to the safety of any person or an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag).

In the case of licence revocations related to domestic violence and protection orders, limited exceptions would be available for individuals needing a firearm for sustenance hunting and trapping, or employment.

The Government intends to launch a consultation with Canadians on the proposed expanded licence revocation and “yellow flag” suspension regime prior to the coming into force of these proposals.

Who has authority to revoke a firearms licence in Canada?

Licence revoked by Instrument Reason Appeal Firearms surrender required? In force?
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Protection order (issued by the Court)* No Yes No
Domestic violence/criminal harassment incident Yes Yes No
Judge Court order Emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) No Yes No
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Following investigation under “yellow flag” law Yes Yes No
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Any reason as outlined under the Firearms Act Yes Yes Yes

Combat firearms smuggling and trafficking

To combat firearms trafficking and smuggling and increase law enforcement capacity to combat firearms violence, the Government is proposing amendments to:

  • increase maximum penalties from 10 to 14 years imprisonment for firearms-related offences, including firearms smuggling and trafficking;
  • authorize wiretaps for two firearms offences;
  • allow sharing of certain firearms registration data with law enforcement across Canada in cases of suspected straw purchasing;
  • make it an offence to alter a cartridge magazine to exceed its lawful capacity and allow for wiretaps for this new offence;
  • make it an offence for businesses to promote violence in firearms marketing and sales;
  • require a person to present a valid firearms licence to import non-prohibited ammunition for firearms (following consultations);
  • improve the ability of the CBSA to manage inadmissibility to Canada when foreign nationals commit regulatory offences upon entry to Canada, including firearm-related offences; and
  • transfer policy responsibility for transborder criminality from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to the Minister of Public Safety.

Prohibit mid-velocity ‘replica’ airguns

The Government is proposing to prohibit airguns that:

  • closely resemble a real firearm (replica); and
  • discharge a projectile at a velocity between approximately 366 and 500 feet per second.

These airguns could no longer be imported, exported, transferred or sold. However current owners could continue to possess and use their existing airguns.

Mid-velocity airguns that do not closely resemble a real firearm would be unaffected. The Government intends to work with stakeholders including law enforcement and industry, to ensure the practical implementation of this initiative.

Coming into Force chart for Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

Criminal Code

Provision Coming into Force
Establish “red flag” firearms removal tool, including new anonymity protections Royal Assent
Increase maximum penalties for weapons smuggling/trafficking from 10 to 14 years Royal Assent
Make it an offence to alter a cartridge magazine to exceed legal limits Royal Assent
Add two firearms offences to the list of offences eligible for wiretapping Royal Assent
Prohibit the import/export and transfer of mid-velocity replica airguns to individuals Royal Assent
Authorize security personnel of certain federal entities (e.g. Bank of Canada, Royal Canadian Mint) to use prohibited firearms Royal Assent
Repeal Governor in Council (GiC) ability to downgrade firearms classification (also in Firearms Act) Royal Assent

Firearms Act

Provision Coming into Force
Prevent individuals with an existing or prior restraining order from obtaining a licence, and require the revocation of a licence for individuals who are subject to a restraining order OiC
Require the revocation of a licence for individuals who have been involved in an act of domestic violence or stalking OiC
Establish “yellow flag” licence suspension regime OiC
Require firearm surrender pending legal challenge of licence revocation Royal Assent
Disclose firearms licence information to stop trafficking, e.g. straw purchasing Royal Assent
Require a firearms licence to import ammunition OiC
Make it an offence to promote violence against a person in firearms marketing and sales Royal Assent
Automatically expire registration certificates subsequent to a change in a firearm’s classification Royal Assent
Repeal Governor in Council (GiC) ability to downgrade firearms classification (also in Criminal Code) Royal Assent
Centralize approval of Authorizations to Carry (ATC) handguns in the Commissioner of Firearms OiC
Prohibit all handgun transfers to individuals Royal Assent
Prohibit the issuance of registration certificates and Authorizations to Transport for handguns from any port of entry (with exceptions) Royal Assent
Exempt individuals with an Authorizations to Carry and elite sports shooters from the handgun transfer/import prohibition Royal Assent

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

Provision Coming into Force
Strengthen the transborder Criminal Inadmissibility Framework Royal Assent

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

Provision Coming into Force
Grant limited peace officer status to security personnel at Canada’s nuclear facilities and provide independent review of their actions OiC

Upcoming regulatory amendments for firearms (not part of Bill C-21)

Provision Coming into Force
Update regulations on cartridge magazines OiC
Update firearms markings regulations OiC
Strengthen secure storage regulations OiC
Date modified: 

https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/frrms/c21-en.aspx retrieved on May 31, 2022.