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Week of May 14, 2012

Life after the Long-Gun Registry

By Garry Breitkreuz, M.P.

A couple of significant events in my almost two-decade political career happened recently:  the final passage in the House of Commons of Bill C-19, Ending the Long-Gun Registry on February 15, 2012, and it subsequently becoming law in early April.

From my earliest days as this riding’s representative in Ottawa, constituents with passion and frequency made it clear to me their desire to end the gun registry.

Many licensed gun-owners living in this riding use legally obtained rifles for legitimate reasons — for farming, hunting and sport shooting. Many of them continued to support me year after year as I worked to expose the registry for what it was – wasteful and ineffective.

As with any new legislation, in the weeks since Bill C-19 passed into law, constituents have been contacting my office to find out what it means for them.  Here are a few of the most common questions:


1. Do any of my guns still need to be registered?

Yes.  Restricted and prohibited firearms must still be registered.  Only non-restricted long guns are exempt.

2. Do I still need a firearms licence?

Yes, all individuals must hold a valid firearms licence in order to possess a firearm.  The licensing, safety training and safe storage requirements for anyone who uses or owns a firearm continue to be in force.

3. How do I sell or buy a non-restricted firearm?  A number of folks are still not clear on this, so I thought it worth noting.  From Section 23 of Bill C-19:

23.  A person may transfer a firearm that is neither a prohibited firearm nor a restricted firearm if, at the time of the transfer,    
(a)  the transferee holds a licence authorizing the transferee to acquire and possess that kind of firearm; and                       
(b)  the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is not authorized to acquire and possess that kind of firearm.

In the Province of Quebec, however, residents are still required to register non-restricted firearms with the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program due to a legal challenge launched by the provincial government. The province wants to use the data to create its own gun registry but the federal government opposes this measure and suggests that Quebec gather its own.  The legal battle is set to begin in earnest mid-June.

In other provinces and territories, some Chief Firearms Officers (CFOs), who are responsible for all licences and authorizations within their jurisdictions, are still trying to collect non-restricted long-gun data. On May 8, 2012, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wrote a letter to the Commissioner of the RCMP requesting that he put a stop to the CFO antics: “The Canadian Firearms Program and the RCMP at large are to provide no assistance or direction to any province seeking to undertake measures of this nature, except as expressly required by valid provincial legislation. The position of the Federal Government, as dictated by the will of Canadians, is that registration of long-guns is wasteful and ineffective. I expect that this position will be fully respected at all times, while respecting the judicial injunction in Quebec that we will continue to vigorously oppose in the courts. If it comes to your attention that CFOs are interpreting the Firearms Act as a basis for unauthorized data collection, please advise me immediately. I am prepared to consider all legislative and regulatory measures necessary to give effect to the will of Canadians.”

The federal government is working hard to protect the rights of gun owners across Canada.  We didn’t spend the last 17 years fighting the long-gun registry to have provincial chief firearms officers create backdoor registries, and I will continue to monitor this issue to see if there are any more improvements that need to be made.

For more information on gun licensing and ownership regulations in Canada, please visit the Canadian Firearms Program website at:  www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index-eng.htm



The audio version of Garry's May 14, 2012 op-ed column can be heard by clicking here