Policy Memorandum

Issue:

Licensing

Policy Memorandum No.:

15-1

Replaces (if applicable):

N/A

To be read with (if applicable):

15-2 (Mandatory Training) and 15-5 (Classification)

Passed by Policy Committee:

23 September 2015

Passed by Board of Directors

23 September 2015

Policy:

The CCFR supports licensing for firearm owners and users provided it is done in a reasonable manner, which impacts firearm owners and users as little as possible while ensuring the legitimate public safety purpose. The licence should be a mandatory-issue to any applicant who meets the clear and objective criteria, and should be for life unless sooner revoked for cause or unless the holder becomes subject to a court-ordered firearms’ prohibition.

Rationale and Discussion:

The CCFR acknowledges that while the possession of firearms is a right, it is not an unlimited or unqualified right. There are individuals who, for various reasons, ought not to possess firearms: criminals, the mentally ill, those incapable of mastering the essential skill or knowledge to safely use a firearm. Having a licensing system ensures that only those individuals who can be trusted to safely use a firearm can legally obtain one. A licensing system is less intrusive than background checks at every transfer of a firearm.

The CCFR acknowledges that the available evidence shows there has been no public safety benefit anytime the Canadian Parliament has changed or increased licensing requirements. However, the CCFR appreciates that the general, non-gun owning Canadian public will not easily accept a regime without some form of firearms licensing.

An acceptable licensing system, however, must presume that individuals who meet clear and objective criteria can be trusted until the contrary is proven. This means that a licence should be for the life of the individual once obtained, unless it is revoked for cause or unless the holder becomes subject to a court-ordered firearms’ prohibition. A revocation for cause or a denial of a licence ought to be reviewable by a Court as it is currently.

The presumption that licensed individuals will behave responsibly also should extend to the privileges of the licence: the CCFR would rather see a system where individuals with licences see few restrictions on their lawful use of firearms as that strikes the proper balance between overall public safety and the rights of the individual.

The CCFR proposes that simple possession of a firearm without a licence remain an offence, but be removed from the Criminal Code and placed instead in the Firearms Act, where it would be a regulatory offence. Possession of a firearm while committing another criminal offence, for the purpose of committing a criminal offence, or for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, should remain a Criminal Code offence and should be criminally punished.