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Of Grace Periods, Guns & Gangs and the Liberal Government’s Gun Control Agenda

The first announcement was the (almost) unexpected gazetting of Section 14 of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act(CSFLA) (C-42), which implemented a 6-month grace period for expired firearms licences. We say unexpected because the Trudeau Liberals campaigned against Bill C-42 during the 2015 federal election.
The second announcement doled out $327 million to police and border services to combat illegal guns and gangs. We support this initiative – albeit with one important caveat – the money is actually spent on efforts targeting criminal gangs and those who commit violent acts with firearms, and NOT targeting licenced, law-abiding firearm owners.

Six-Month Grace Period

Implementing a 6-month grace period to protect gun owners from prosecution while their licence renewal is processed was a key element of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. Liberals attacked this relentlessly while in opposition yet, on November 2, 2017, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government officially implemented this section. It appears they got the message that prosecuting people for paperwork infractions is a waste of everyone’s time and resources, and we’re pleased to see this grace period implemented.
Effective November 30, 2017, anyone whose firearms licence expires from that date forward is protected from prosecution for 6 months. This is important for two reasons. First, this will end the prosecution of some of the 587 people charged each year for possessing firearms without a valid firearms licence. Second, should your licence expire before your renewal is applied for, this grace period means you will not lose your prohibited classification and be forced to give up your prohibited-class firearms.
From the RCMP’s Briefing Notes:
The extension period temporarily protects from criminal prosecution PAL holders who have not renewed their licence on or before the date on their licence card. It also protects PAL holders from permanently losing privileges if they renew during the extension period, including the grandfathered possession of prohibited firearms.  
Previously, when your firearms licence expired all registration certificates for restricted and prohibited firearms expired and by corollary, all your prohibited grandfathered classifications expired too. You could not get them back.
  • If your licence expired on November 29 or earlier, however, you are out of luck. It only applies to those individuals whose licence expires on November 30, 2017 and later.
  • Once the Application for Renewal is received, the renewal is “in process” and the license is not considered expired.
  • If the licence expiration date comes without the submission of an Application to Renew, you may not use or acquire firearms until the Application to Renew is submitted. The lesson is, it is a grace period to protect individuals from prosecution in the event of a missed deadline. It is not a six-month extension of your licence.

Guns and Gangs Funding Announcement

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s funding announcement was long on cash ($327 million over five years) but short on details. The official announcement said only this:
As part of its commitment to make it harder for criminals to get and use handguns and assault weapons and to reduce gun and gang violence, the Government of Canada is announcing up to $327.6 million over five years, and $100 million annually thereafter, in new funding to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities.
The Government of Canada will also bring together experts, practitioners, front-line personnel, and decision makers for a Summit on Criminal Guns and Gangs in March 2018. The Criminal Guns and Gangs Summit will be an unprecedented national summit on challenges, solutions and best practices in the fight against gun crime and in combating the deadly effects of gangs and illegal guns in communities across Canada.
On the surface, this all sounds wonderful. Nobody wants violent criminals and gangs disarmed more than law-abiding firearm owners. Our community becomes the scapegoats every time gang thugs shoot up a neighbourhood and kill innocent civilians in their endless turf wars. If the Liberal government wants to put an end to that unjust persecution of gun owners, we’re thrilled, but forgive us if we’re also a little cautious of the announcement.
When Minister Goodale says he wants to, “make our communities safer through greater enforcement, collaboration and prevention,” some may see that as a red flag.
If, by “greater enforcement” the Minister means going after violent criminal gangs, then we’re all for it. If he means wasting precious law enforcement resources harassing law-abiding firearm owners over paperwork issues, then we are not.
Time will tell what these statements truly mean but, so far, we remain cautiously optimistic that Ralph Goodale understands where we’re coming from. For the most part, he’s left the gun issue alone, preferring to spend his time and effort on other far more important issues.
That only leaves one item left on the agenda – Canada’s national annual public flogging of gun owners. As we prepare ourselves for December 6, the tragic anniversary of Gamil Gharbi’s (AKA Marc Lepine) 1989 murderous rampage in Montreal, we wonder what the Liberals might have in store for us this year.
Repeated promises of new gun control measures “by the end of the year” from Ralph Goodale’s office led to wild speculation on message boards and social media. Questions to the Minister’s office are met with vague comments about changes “consistent with our election platform.”
Like you, we must wait until December 6 to know what this means, but as far as the Liberal “gun control agenda” goes, there is little left on their list, unless they want to degrade public safety by forcing gun owners back into a paper Authorization To Transport (ATT) system, where police no longer have access to ATT information, as they do today as a result of the changes implemented by the Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act.
We hope saner heads prevail because returning to paper ATTs actually decreases public safety but, as you are well aware, any craziness is possible with government.

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