Policy Memorandum

Issue:

Implementation Issues with respect to the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act

Policy Memorandum No.:

15-12

Replaces (if applicable):

N/A

To be read with (if applicable):

N/A

Passed by Policy Committee:

23 September 2015

Passed by Board of Directors

23 September 2015

Policy:

We must persuade the Canadian Firearms Program to alter three problematic areas of their implementation of the new Automatic Authorizations to Transport. First, the new AATTs must be changed to apply to all firearms which the licence holder is authorized to possess and not only to those firearms registered to the licence holder. Second, the new AATTs must be changed to reflect the legal condition for routing (“in all the circumstances is reasonably direct” and not “the most direct route possible”). Third, the CFP must stop the illegal practice of denying the AATT for target practice on the basis of the purpose of acquisition of the firearm.

Rationale and Discussion:

On 2 September 2015, subsection 2(1), sections 6 and 11, and subsection 13(1) of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, S.C. 2015, c. 27, came into force (Order Fixing September 2, 2015 as the Day on which Certain Provisions of the Act Come into Force, S.I./2015-0080 (2015) C. Gaz. II, 2634). As a result, s. 19(2) of the Firearms Act, S.C. 1995, c. 39, was amended to provide that (at new s. 19(2.1)) “an individual who holds a licence authorizing the individual to possess prohibited firearms or restricted firearms must, if the licence is renewed, be authorized to transport them within the individual’s province of residence (a) to and from all shooting clubs and shooting ranges that are approved under section 29; (b) to and from any place a peace officer, firearms officer or chief firearms officer is located, for verification, registration or disposal in accordance with this Act or Part III of the Criminal Code; (c) to and from a business that holds a licence authorizing it to repair or appraise prohibited firearms or restricted firearms; (d) to and from a gun show; and (e) to a port of exit in order to take them outside Canada, and from a port of entry.”

There are three major problems with the implementation of this change by the Canadian Firearms Program. First, the new Automatic Authorizations to Transport apply only to the firearms registered to the licence holder, unlike Long-Term Authorizations to Transport issued before 2 September 2015 which applied to all firearms registered to the residence of the authorization holder. Second, the new Automatic Authorizations to Transport requires that the transportation must be “by the most direct route possible” instead of the prior wording of “by a route that, in all circumstances, is reasonably direct.” Third, the CFP has stated “Depending on the purpose for which you acquire firearms, you either get all six conditions added to your licence as a condition (if you have acquired your firearms for target shooting) or you get just five conditions, excluding transport to and from an approved range (if you have acquired your firearms for collection purposes)”, ignoring the purposes of self-defence or lawful employment or occupation which are also legitimate purposes under the Firearms Act and ignoring the explicit language of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act.

Dealing with the routing problem first, we note that s. 4 of the Authorizations to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms Regulations, S.O.R./98-206, is unchanged since 1998 and requires that the condition on an Authorization to Transport be transported “by a route that, in all the circumstances, is reasonably direct.” This was the condition on ATTs prior to 2 September 2015. There is no legislative or regulatory support for this arbitrary change made by the Canadian Firearms Program. In fact, we go further: this change made by the CFR is contrary to law.

With respect to the addition of conditions being tied to the purpose of acquisition, this is found nowhere in the law and is patently an illegal move by the Canadian Firearms Program. Section 19(2.1) of the Firearms Act makes it clear that all authorizations must be added for all holders of licences and that there is no discretion to refuse to add the condition for target shooting, or to otherwise limit the authorizations based on the purpose of acquisition.

Finally, while the CCFR acknowledges that s. 3(a) of the Authorizations to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms Regulations requires that the new AATT “identify all of the firearms to which the authorization to transport applies”, there is no principled reason to limit the AATT to those firearms registered to the licence holder. It is the CCFR’s position that it should apply to all firearms which the licence holder is authorized to possess. At a minimum, however, the former wording of “all firearms registered to the residence of the authorization holder” ought to be immediately restored. (As a related side note, the CCFR notes that the new wording issued by the CFP for the AATT does not comply with s. 3(b)(i) of the Authorizations to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms Regulations as it fails to specify “the period for which the authorization to transport is issued”.)