When an individual commits a violent or other serious crime, Canadian courts can prohibit the offender from possessing firearms and other weapons for a few months or the rest of their life.
On paper, it sounds great.
There is one glaring problem with Canada’s Firearm Prohibition Order system, however. The only government agency the Court is required to notify ‘without delay’ is the Canadian Firearms Program. (See Section 89 of the Firearms Act[i])
If the offender subjected to a Firearms Prohibition Order is not a client (their language) of the Canadian Firearms Program – in other words, if the offender does not have a valid Firearms Possession and Acquisition License – this judicial notification is filed in the circular file.
As bizarre as it seems, the Canadian reality is:
- No police agency tracks individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders registered against them.
- There is no legal requirement for police to check on individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders registered against them to ensure compliance.
- There is no legal requirement for individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders to notify police when they move to a new residence. Police have no idea where these people are located.
To say Canada’s Firearm Prohibition Order system is broken is misleading because the system was designed to fail.
This is not the case in two other Commonwealth nations – Australia and New Zealand.
Australia created in a new Firearm Prohibition Order system in May 2018. Under this system, an individual must surrender all firearms and related items immediately or face a mandatory five years imprisonment.[ii]
Police may search the individual with a Firearm Prohibition Order registered against them at any time without a warrant. Police may also search “any item, package or thing in their possession, and any premises, vehicle, vessel or aircraft related to the Firearm Prohibition Order subject.”
Police may also detain the subject for “as long as is reasonably necessary to conduct a search.”
If the Firearm Prohibition Order subject is in the company of another person, that other person will also be able to be searched without a warrant.
New Zealand does not have a firearm prohibition order system yet, but legislation is before the New Zealand Parliament to create a system modeled on the Australian systems.
Should Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill (No 2)[iii] pass into law, New Zealand’s system will “provide new powers for Police to search the persons, vehicles, and premises of specified serious and violent gang members for firearms at any time. They will only apply to a very small group of the most dangerous gang offenders who have convictions for firearms offences and serious violence. A pool of eligible people will be based on criteria set out in this legislation and will include being a gang member and having recent firearms or violence offences.”
Violators of New Zealand’s Firearm Prohibition Order law are subject to a minimum 5 years and a maximum of 14 years in prison.
Our Liberal government pretends their recently-introduced legislation (Bills C-21 and C-22) will reduce criminal violence with firearms but, as this government always does with firearm legislation, they completely miss the mark.
Bill C-21 adds more restrictions to licensed firearm owners.
Bill C-22 reduces penalties for using a firearm in the commission of another offence.
Neither Bill will stop the problems the government claims their proposed legislation is designed to solve.
The Australian Firearm Prohibition Order system specifically targets known violent offenders who use illegal guns.
The New Zealand Firearm Prohibition Order system, when passed, will also target known violent offenders who use illegal guns.
Instead of ignoring violent criminal offenders with Firearm Prohibition Orders against them, if the Canadian government truly wants to stop violent offenders with illegal guns, then Canada must implement the same Firearm Prohibition Order system as Australia and New Zealand.
We must focus our resources directly on the individuals who, through their criminal actions, destroy the lives of so many innocent Canadians.