Vol. 148, No. 7 — March 26, 2014
SOR/2014-56 March 13, 2014
Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2014)
P.C. 2014-277 March 13, 2014
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, pursuant to subsection 117.14(1) (see footnote a) of the Criminal Code (see footnote b), makes the annexed Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2014).
ORDER DECLARING AN AMNESTY PERIOD (2014)
Definition of “firearm”
1. In this Order, “firearm” means any of the following prohibited firearms:
- (a) a Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) Model CZ858 Tactical-2P rifle;
- (b) a Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) Model CZ858 Tactical-2V rifle;
- (c) a Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) Model CZ858 Tactical-4P rifle;
- (d) a Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) Model CZ858 Tactical-4V rifle;
- (e) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Classic Green rifle;
- (f) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Classic Green carbine;
- (g) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Classic Green CQB rifle;
- (h) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Black Special rifle;
- (i) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Black Special carbine;
- (j) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Black Special CQB rifle;
- (k) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Black Special Target rifle;
- (l) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Blue Star rifle;
- (m) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Heavy Metal rifle;
- (n) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Red Devil rifle; or
- (o) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Swiss Arms Edition rifle.
2. (1) The amnesty period set out in subsection (3) is declared under section 117.14 of the Criminal Code for a person who
- (a) on the day before this Order is registered, possessed a firearm and held a licence that was issued under the Firearms Act; and
- (b) during the amnesty period, continues to hold the licence while in possession of the firearm.
(2) The purpose of the amnesty period is to permit the person to do any of the following during that period:
- (a) possess the firearm;
- (b) deliver the firearm to a peace officer, firearms officer or chief firearms officer;
- (c) sell or give the firearm to a business – including a museum – authorized to acquire and possess prohibited firearms;
- (d) transport the firearm for the purposes of paragraph (b) or (c).
(3) The amnesty period begins on the day on which this Order is registered and ends on March 14, 2016.
Coming into force
3. This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Order.)
On February 26, 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) determined the Ceská Zbrojovka 858 Tactical 2 and 4 rifles (the “CZ858”) and the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifles and its variants (the “Swiss Arms”), previously imported and sold in Canada as non-restricted and restricted firearms, are prohibited firearms pursuant to subsection 84(1) of the Criminal Code and the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted. Individuals and businesses that possess a prohibited CZ858 or a Swiss Arms rifle without prohibited firearms licence privileges are in unlawful possession of a firearm and could be liable to criminal prosecution under the Code, with penalties upon conviction between 5 and 10 years in prison.
There are three categories of firearms: non-restricted (ordinary hunting rifles and shot guns), restricted (most handguns and certain long guns prescribed as restricted) and prohibited (certain handguns, full and converted automatics and other firearms prescribed as prohibited).
Part III of the Criminal Code (see footnote 1) (the “Code”) and the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (see footnote 2) (the “Regulations”) establish the legal framework governing the classification of firearms in Canada. Firearms are classified as prohibited or restricted either by way of definition in the Code or through the Regulations. The Regulations list specific models of firearms (e.g. AK-47 rifle, Beretta, M16) as restricted or prohibited, and include “variants and modified versions” of those named models (e.g. any version of the Beretta BM59 is prohibited). The term “variant” is employed as a means to capture future firearms that differ (e.g. barrel length, cartridge size) from those specifically listed in the Regulations, but are generally the same make and type; however, there is no legislated definition of variant.
Firearms not defined in the Code or prescribed by regulation as restricted or prohibited are, by default, non-restricted.
The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) is responsible for the administration of the Firearms Act (see footnote 3) (the “Act”), which includes providing the technical expertise to interpret and determine the classification of firearms. To aid in this process, the RCMP has created the Firearms Reference Table (FRT), an administrative Web-based database that contains determinations regarding the classification of all known firearms in Canada. Before a firearm can be imported or registered in Canada, an FRT record must be generated.
Occasionally, it comes to the attention of the CFP that a firearm has been incorrectly described, or that a FRT record generated for a specific firearm describes an incorrect classification. Following physical inspection of the firearm by the CFP, the FRT record may be updated to properly reflect the appropriate classification of the firearm based upon the established criteria in the Code. Such amendments can affect the registration status of the firearm (e.g. a restricted firearm becomes prohibited). It is important to note that this is not a form of reclassification, but rather an update of an earlier determination based on new information. However, the impact on otherwise lawful firearms owners is serious and must be acknowledged.
Ceská Zbrojovka 858 Tactical 2 and 4 rifles
In 2005, the RCMP identified the CZ858 as non-restricted (in the case of longer barreled versions) or restricted (in the case of shorter barrel versions) based upon manufacturer provided information that was subsequently confirmed by a physical inspection of samples at that time. FRT records were generated and the firearms were subsequently permitted to be imported, registered and sold in Canada.
In March 2013, the RCMP inspected and provided an expert opinion on the classification of a series of CZ858 proof marked 2007 or later. Following an internal review, the RCMP determined that at some point in 2007, the CZ858 rifles being imported into Canada differed from the inspected version and were in fact fully automatic firearms that had been converted to be semi-automatic firearms, rather than being the semi-automatics purported by the exporter. Converted fully automatic firearms are prohibited firearms under the Code given the possibility that they can be converted to fully automatic. Fully automatic firearms pose a significant public safety threat given their fast reloading action and their ability to discharge multiple shots each time the trigger is pulled. On February 26, 2014, the RCMP determined that the CZ858s were in fact prohibited firearms.
The Canada Border Services Agency estimates more than 8 700 CZ858 rifles have been imported into Canada. There are 406 formerly restricted CZ858 rifles in Canada and 423 formerly non-restricted CZ858 rifles registered in Quebec based upon registration data. The estimated value of these firearms is between $500 and $1,000 each.
Swiss Arms Classic Green Rifles and its variants
In 2001, a Canadian importer requested a classification opinion of the Swiss Arms rifles in order to authorize their importation and registration in Canada. The RCMP reviewed documentation provided by the importer and the manufacturer which portrayed the Swiss Arms rifles as semi-automatic variants of the Swiss Arms SG 540. Based upon these documents, the RCMP created FRT records naming the firearms as non-restricted or restricted, depending on the barrel length. They were subsequently imported, registered and sold in Canada.
Following a complaint in December 2012 alleging that prohibited variants of the Swiss Arms rifles were being imported under the guise of being non-restricted or restricted, the RCMP inspected three of these firearms. The RCMP also sought additional information from the manufacturer and previous importers who had represented to the RCMP that the Swiss Arms rifles were non-restricted or restricted (depending on the barrel length). On February 26, 2014, the RCMP determined that all of the Classic Green Rifles and its variants are descendants of the prohibited Swiss Arms SG 550 firearms and are prohibited firearms under the Criminal Code.
According to media reports, there are more than 2 000 Swiss Arms rifles in Canada. There are currently 310 formerly restricted Swiss Arms rifles in Canada and 42 formerly non-restricted Swiss Arms rifles in Quebec based upon registration data. The estimated value of these firearms is between $3,000 and $4,000 each.
The Government is implementing a two-year amnesty pursuant to section 117.14 of the Criminal Code. The amnesty will allow affected firearms owners to continue to possess their firearms without fear of criminal prosecution for possessing them. Concurrent to the amnesty, the Government is undertaking the necessary steps to allow affected persons the authority to continue to possess and use their firearms. Until these additional measures are in place, the transportation, other than as provided for in the amnesty, or use of these firearms (e.g. for hunting or sports shooting) is not permitted.
Taking into account the fact that persons currently in possession of these firearms purchased them at the time as either non-restricted or restricted firearms, the Government believes the extraordinary step of implementing an amnesty to prevent individuals and businesses who acted in good faith from prosecution is both necessary and appropriate in the circumstances.
The objective of the amnesty is to protect individuals and businesses from criminal prosecution while the Government takes the necessary steps to allow affected parties to continue to possess and use their firearms.
The Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2014) will, for two years, protect persons in possession of a Ceská Zbrojovka 858 Tactical 2 or 4 rifle, or the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifles and its variants from criminal prosecution for possessing them.
The amnesty will permit the affected persons to
- possess the firearm;
- deliver the firearm to a peace officer, firearms officer or chief firearms officer;
- sell or give the firearm to a business — including a museum — authorized to acquire and possess prohibited firearms; or
- transport the firearm for the purposes of delivering, selling, or giving it as provided for in the Order.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to businesses.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs on small businesses.
Given the criminal liability of possessing a firearm without lawful authorization, the Government has moved to implement the Amnesty Order as expeditiously as possible to protect law abiding gun owners. As a result, no consultations have been undertaken relative to this Order.
The Government of Canada wants to ensure that no firearms owner who acted in good faith suffers any criminal consequences as a result of the correction to the classification of these firearms.
There are no cost implications associated with this amnesty.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Communication efforts will focus on the Government’s commitment that no firearms owner who acted in good faith suffers any criminal consequences as a result of the correction to the classification of these firearms and that efforts will be undertaken on an urgent basis to prevent the reoccurrence of this problem. They will also explain who can avail themselves of the amnesty, how to do so, and the period during which the amnesty will be in effect while the Government takes the necessary steps to allow affected persons the authority to continue to possess and use their firearms. These will include bulletins, news releases and notices on Government Web sites. Telephone operators at 1-800-O-Canada, in addition to the general enquiry services within the CFP, the RCMP and Public Safety Canada will respond to questions from clients regarding the amnesty and their legal responsibilities to take positive steps to comply with firearms legislation.
Firearms and Operational Policing Policy
Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch
Public Safety Canada
General Inquiries: 1-800-830-3118 or 613-944-4875