Vol. 145, No. 11 — May 25, 2011
SOR/2011-111 May 16, 2011
ARCHIVED — Regulations Amending the Firearms Fees Regulations
P.C. 2011-559 May 13, 2011
Whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that the changes made to the Firearms Fees Regulations (see footnote a) by the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Fees Regulations are so immaterial and insubstantial that section 118 of the Firearms Act (see footnote b) should not be applicable in the circumstances;
And whereas that Minister will, in accordance with subsection 119(4) of that Act, have a statement of the reasons why he formed that opinion laid before each House of Parliament;
Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to paragraph 117(q) of the Firearms Act (see footnote c), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Fees Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FIREARMS FEES REGULATIONS
1. Subsection 2.2(4) of the Firearms Fees Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
(4) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (3), the period begins on May 17, 2006 and ends on May 16, 2012.
COMING INTO FORCE
2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issue: This amendment extends the Firearms Fees Regulations, which, collectively with the previously approved extension of the Regulations Amending the Firearms Licences Regulations and the Order Amending the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period(2006), help to maintain and increase compliance with federal firearms legislation. Not extending this measure may deter some firearms owners from remaining or becoming compliant with federal firearms legislation and thereby undermine public safety.
Description: Specifically, this amendment extends, until May 16, 2012, the fee waiver associated with renewing or upgrading an existing firearms licence.
Cost-benefit statement: The fee waiver, along with the Possession Only Licence (POL) renewal measure and Criminal Code amnesty protecting non-compliant owners of non-restricted firearms while they are taking steps to comply with federal legislation, is intended to increase compliance with federal firearms legislation and contribute to public safety. Between 2011 and 2012, approximately 330 000 licencees could benefit from the fee waiver. The foregone revenue attributed to the waiver of fees for these licences is $20.9 million.
Business and consumer impacts: There are no known business impacts. The focus of this measure, together with the POL renewal measure and the amnesty, is to provide incentives to individuals who are
- (i) not in compliance with federal firearms legislation; or
- (ii) currently compliant, but will be required to renew their licence in the near-term and may be considering becoming non-compliant with federal firearms legislation.
Performance measurement and evaluation plan: Compliance is continuously monitored by the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP). The Commissioner of Firearms, pursuant to the Firearms Act, provides an annual report to Parliament on the performance of the CFP. No other performance measurement or evaluation plans are necessary. The last report, the 2009 Commissioner of Firearms Report, was tabled by the Minister of Public Safety in the House of Commons on October 7, 2010.
The amendments to the Firearms Fees Regulations renew a measure that, together with the recently extended POL renewal measure and Criminal Code amnesty, is intended to maintain and increase compliance with the Firearms Act and Criminal Code.
As of December 2010, there were approximately 1.8 million individuals licensed under the Firearms Act who, collectively, have registered more than 7.6 million firearms. Currently, more than 224 000 holders of expired licences are believed to still be in possession of their firearms. Of those who are non-compliant, 172 500 (more than 76%) are former POL holders. A majority of current and expired POL holders are over 50 years of age and often reside in rural or remote regions where access to training is limited. The implementation of the POL renewal measure in 2008 has allowed approximately 40 000 former licence holders to apply for a new POL, thereby enabling these individuals to comply with federal firearms legislation.
Having these individuals (experienced firearms owners often living in rural or remote regions) pay for and complete the firearms safety training course to obtain a firearms licence has been described by firearms owners and advocates as a disincentive to compliance. Firearms owners who are currently not in compliance with federal firearms legislation are unlikely to return to compliance without steps being taken to encourage their doing so.
Since 2006, the overall licence compliance rate has decreased from 82% to 76%. Although overall compliance has seen a decline while three government initiatives intended to increase compliance (i.e. the POL renewal measure, amnesty and waiver of fees) have been in effect, it is possible that this decline could have been greater in the absence of these measures. The fee waiver is relieving in nature and, together with the POL renewal measure and the Criminal Code amnesty, helps maintain favourable conditions to encourage compliance with the licensing and registration requirements of the Firearms Act. It is also possible that compliance has declined as a result of confusion and uncertainty regarding firearms control due to repeated legislative efforts to eliminate the long-gun registry.
The current firearms licence renewal fee waiver is extended until May 16, 2012.
The main objective of the CFP is to enhance public safety. This is achieved, in part, by maximizing the number of firearms owners who comply with the licensing and registration requirements set out in the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code. Such individuals are subject to Continuous Eligibility Screening as a condition of possessing a firearms licence.
Continuous Eligibility Screening recognizes that an individual’s circumstances, including the appropriateness of ongoing firearms possession, change over time. Such screening ensures that any known high-risk behaviour (e.g. recent interaction with law enforcement) on the part of lawful firearms owners is automatically brought to the attention of Chief Firearms Officers and law enforcement. This allows authorities to take appropriate action, as required, including the revocation of a licence and seizure of a firearm. When a firearms owner becomes non-compliant (i.e. does not renew a licence), they are no longer within the ambit of the CFP’s jurisdiction. As a result, the Privacy Act, among other legislation, prevents the RCMP from conducting further Continuous Eligibility Screening, thereby withdrawing a meaningful tool enabling the CFP to take pre-emptive measures in dealing with higher-risk firearms owners.
These Regulations amend the Firearms Fees Regulations in order to extend the existing waiver, until May 16, 2012, of the fee payable for the renewal of a firearms licence, including fees that may apply when changing from a POL to a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) or when a firearms licence is upgraded to include additional privileges (i.e. restricted or prohibited).
The fee waiver does not apply to an application
- for an initial firearms licence;
- made subsequent to a licence revocation or licence refusal or following the expiry of a firearms prohibition order; or
- for PALs submitted by individuals who previously held a minors licence.
Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered
Without this regulatory amendment, commencing May 17, 2011, all individuals seeking to renew their licences would be required to pay the associated fees (i.e. up to $80 for a five-year licence). This is likely to deter some firearms owners from becoming compliant with federal firearms legislation and could serve as an incentive for some currently compliant licencees to become non-compliant, thereby undermining public safety.
Benefits and costs
There are modest costs associated with the Regulations for the federal government, and modest savings for firearms licencees. The Firearms Fees Regulations prescribe that both new and renewing firearms licence applicants are required to pay a fee of up to $80 depending on the type of licence and its privileges.
This amendment continues an existing fee waiver, for an additional one-year period, until May 16, 2012, for those individuals upgrading or renewing their firearms licence. Between 2011 and 2012, approximately 330 000 firearms licencees will be required to renew their firearms licence and could benefit from the continuation of this fee waiver. The foregone revenue attributed to the waiver of fees for these licences is $20.9 million.
The regulatory amendments were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, to invite public comment for 15 days (April 9–24, 2011). There were no comments received.
Previous consultations undertaken by the Government have focused on all three compliance measures (POL renewal, amnesty and fee waiver), rather than the fee waiver in isolation. A summary of the comments received is as follows.
In 2010, the previous regulatory amendments to extend the suite of measures to increase compliance (e.g. POL renewal, amnesty and fee waiver) were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, to invite public comment for 15 days (March 20–April 3, 2010). During this period, 15 comments were received from 12 individuals and 3 organizations, including the Coalition for Gun Control, the National Council of Women and the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights. Of the respondents, all opposed the extension of the amnesty, expressing concern that the amnesty was reducing the effectiveness of the firearms registry and providing immunity to long-gun owners from complying with federal firearms legislation. The Government considered the views of these stakeholders but elected to move forward with the regulatory amendments given their importance from a public-safety perspective.
In 2009, the regulatory amendments were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, to invite public comment for 30 days (March 28–April 26, 2009). During this period, four comments were received, two from organizations and two from individuals. Of the respondents, two supported the proposed extension of the firearms compliance measures, while two opposed the extension of the amnesty. Those who supported the proposed Regulations expressed their belief that these measures were part of the Government’s commitment to repeal the long-gun registry, while opponents expressed concern that the amnesty was reducing the effectiveness of the firearms registry and providing immunity to long gun owners from complying with federal firearms legislation.
Similarly, during the pre-publication period from March 1 to 31, 2008, 131 comments were received via email, fax, telephone message, and letters concerning the proposed implementation of the compliance measures. Almost all of the input on the 3 regulations came from individuals rather than organizations; 126 individuals, 4 organizations and one provincial government commented on the proposal. Overall, support for the regulatory amendments was high, with some of the respondents indicating that they thought the initiatives were a positive compliance incentive. The majority of those in favour also noted there is a need to focus legislative measures to control firearms on criminals rather than otherwise law-abiding Canadians, while also expressing concern over the amount of money spent on the CFP.
Nine respondents (one province, four organizations and four individuals) who did not support the combined initiatives in 2008 expressed specific concern towards the amnesty extension. The Attorney General of Ontario was of the opinion that repeated extensions to the amnesty are leading to a deterioration of the data currently available to police in the Canadian Firearms Information System. Other opponents also felt that individuals have had sufficient time (since 1995) to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the law and expressed critical views of how the Government is handling the CFP. Those who self-identified as being licensed owners with registered firearms who are currently in compliance with the law were concerned that non-compliant individuals are being given too many opportunities to comply when information has been readily available for so long.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Communication efforts focus on who can avail themselves of these measures, how to do so, and the period during which these measures will be in effect. In an effort to increase voluntary compliance, communication efforts emphasize the Government’s commitment to improving public safety through effective gun control and tackling the criminal use of firearms, while reducing unnecessary administrative requirements on firearms owners. This is accomplished by highlighting the requirement of firearms owners to take steps to comply with the law and the benefits of extending the compliance measures, which collectively encourage and enable firearms owners to continue to meet their legal obligations.
Under federal firearms legislation currently in force, to be in lawful possession of a non-restricted firearm, an individual must hold a licence issued under the Firearms Act as well as a registration certificate for each firearm.
Owners are expected to take positive steps to comply, as set out in the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period(2006), with the Firearms Act and Criminal Code.
Performance measurement and evaluation
Overall compliance is continuously monitored by the CFP. The Commissioner of Firearms, pursuant to the Firearms Act, provides an annual report to Parliament on the performance of the CFP. No other performance measurement or evaluation plans are necessary. The last report, the 2009 Commissioner of Firearms Report, was tabled by the Minister of Public Safety in the House of Commons on October 7, 2010.
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S.C. 1995, c. 39
S.C. 1995, c. 39