Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 155, Number 26: Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act
June 26, 2021
Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Currently, businesses and individuals who transfer (i.e., sell, barter, or give) non-restricted firearms are not required to verify that the buyer's or recipient's firearms licence is still valid (it is a voluntary step). As non-restricted firearms represent the vast majority of sales (estimated at 90% of all sales), this represents a risk that firearms are being transferred to individuals who are not eligible to possess them.
Moreover, there is no requirement for businesses to keep records on all transactions related to non-restricted firearms as a condition of their business licence, despite the fact that businesses must do so for transfers of restricted and prohibited firearms. These records can help law enforcement trace firearms if they become crime guns (firearms involved in illegal activity). As a result, it is very difficult to successfully trace a non-restricted firearm that becomes a crime gun, unless it can be found in one of the law enforcement databases, e.g. the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (formerly Bill C-71), which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, made a number of amendments to the Firearms Act, such as re-introducing requirements for due diligence in the verification of a transferee's licence prior to the transfer of non-restricted firearms and on maintaining records on the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms by businesses as a condition of the firearms business licence. In order for these due diligence measures to come into force, regulatory amendments are needed to operationalize the changes.
The Firearms Act provides that an individual must hold a firearms licence to acquire and possess a firearm, and that a business must hold a firearms business licence in order to carry on a business related to firearms or ammunition. Individuals must have a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) to own a non-restricted firearm, or a Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL) to own restricted or prohibited firearms. Businesses may have different authorizations added to their licences depending on their business lines (e.g., for sales, repair, shipping, display in a museum).
The purpose of the firearms licence is to ensure that individuals undergo a background check and take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (if applicable), on how to safely handle a firearm. Once a person holds a firearms licence, they must undergo Continuous Eligibility Screening which ensures that police-reported incidents of high-risk behaviour are brought to the attention of the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for the relevant province or territory for investigation and action. In order to transfer a non-restricted firearm, the Act currently requires that the transferee (“the buyer”) hold a PAL; and that the transferor (“the vendor”) have no reason to believe that the buyer is not authorized to acquire and possess the firearm.
With respect to record-keeping, the Act already requires that businesses maintain inventory and transaction records of restricted and prohibited firearms as a condition of their business licence. However, the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms) prohibit anyone from requiring that businesses maintain such records on non-restricted firearms, as a condition of licence. This Regulation was first introduced in June 2012, following the end of the long gun registry.
These two issues are described in further detail in the next sections. An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to Firearms provides for mandatory verification of a buyer's firearms licence prior to transfer of a non-restricted firearm, and the requirement for businesses to keep records on inventory and transfers of non-restricted firearms. These Bill C-71 provisions are not yet in force.
The Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA) in 2012, which repealed the registration of non-restricted firearms, eliminated a mandatory touch point with the Registrar upon transfer of a non-restricted firearm. The Registrar, who is appointed under the Public Service Employment Act to work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)-Canadian Firearms Program (CFP), is responsible for issuing, refusing, and revoking registration certificates for restricted and prohibited firearms and for establishing and maintaining the national Canadian Firearms Registry, which includes these records as well as records on licences and authorizations issued by CFOs. The CFO is responsible for issuing firearms licences, authorizations to transport, and authorizations to carry, among other functions, within their jurisdiction. Every province and territory is covered by a CFO.
Prior to the ELRA, the Registrar verified that a firearms licence continued to be valid (e.g., that an individual was not attempting to use a fraudulent licence) before issuing a Registration Certificate for non-restricted firearms. Since 2012, vendors may transfer non-restricted firearms to buyers without checking the validity of the licence with the Registrar. However, vendors may voluntarily submit a request to the Registrar to confirm that the buyer holds a valid licence.
The Registrar is prohibited from keeping any record of such a request. However, as this is voluntary and represents extra effort, Public Safety Canada officials consider it reasonable to conclude that voluntary requests are likely rare. While no data is available on the sales of non-restricted firearms today, in the year before the long-gun registry ended (2012), approximately 7.1 million of the total 7.9 million (90%) firearms registered in Canada were non-restricted. Based on these 2012 statistics, Public Safety Canada officials are of the view that for the overwhelming majority of firearms sales, the buyer's licence is not being verified with the Registrar.
Keeping Canadians safe from gun crime continues to be an important Government priority, and the Government is still committed to not reinstating the registration of non-restricted firearms. Individuals that may be using fraudulent or stolen firearms licences may represent a threat to public safety. When sections 23 and 23.1 of the former Bill C-71 are brought into force, licence verification prior to the transfer of a non-restricted firearm will be restored. The buyer will be required to provide the vendor with the information prescribed by regulation, and the vendor will inquire with the Registrar as to the buyer's licence validity. If the Registrar is satisfied that the buyer holds and is still eligible to hold a firearms licence allowing the acquisition and possession of a non-restricted firearm, the Registrar will issue a reference number to the vendor. The reference number would be valid for the period of time prescribed by regulations. If the Registrar is not satisfied, they may inform the vendor. Former Bill C-71 would require that businesses retain records of the transfer (reference number, date, buyer's licence number and firearm's make, model and type, and its serial number) for 20 years.
To prescribe the matters mentioned above (information; validity period of reference number; official; duration of record retention), the Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations would have to be amended. These Regulations currently specify the information that must be provided to the CFO upon transfer of a restricted or prohibited firearm to an individual or a business; and the information to be provided to the Registrar upon transfer to the federal government, a provincial government, a police force, or a municipality, and transfers by mail.
By creating a requirement for a vendor, whether an individual or a business, to verify the licence of a buyer with the Registrar, and for the Registrar to confirm that the licence is valid, individuals presenting stolen or fraudulent licences, or those for whom licence eligibility is in question (i.e., due to an ongoing investigation by a CFO) would no longer be able to acquire non-restricted firearms.
The legislative requirement that businesses keep records related to the purchase of firearms was repealed in 2005 because the long gun registry made it obsolete when it was created in 1998. Non-restricted, restricted and prohibited firearms, along with the names and licence numbers of their owners, were registered in the Canadian Firearms Registry. In 2012, registration of non-restricted firearms was repealed. Further, the Government introduced the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms), prohibiting CFOs from obliging businesses to collect records on the possession or transfers of non-restricted firearms. This did not affect the ability of businesses to keep inventories for their own business purposes, and most businesses continued to keep records of transactions of non-restricted firearms as a matter of good business practice (e.g., to facilitate returns or exchanges, or for purposes of insurance or verifying the warranty).
A firearms business is a person that carries on a business which includes the manufacture, assembly, possession, purchase, sale, importation, exportation, display, repair, restoration, maintenance, storage, alteration, pawnbroking, transportation, shipping, distribution or delivery of firearms. Accurate records related to these activities are critical to the process of tracing firearms. The Canadian National Firearms Tracing Centre (CNFTC) assists front-line law enforcement by providing an extensive firearms tracing service for Canadian and international law enforcement agencies to assist with firearms investigations. When a firearm is seized or recovered at a crime scene, police endeavour to systematically track its origin to develop investigative leads that are used to link a suspect to the firearm. A successful trace is when the CNFTC locates the first owner for which a record exists. From 2018-2020, an average of only 18 percent of total non-restricted firearms traces were successful, compared to 51 percent of restricted or prohibited firearms. It is possible that the absence of inventory and transaction records on non-restricted firearms is one of the principal reasons for why the success rate is so low. Upon coming into force of the proposed regulatory amendments and the associated Bill C-71 legislative amendments, there would be a condition on firearms business licences making it mandatory to keep the information prescribed by regulation for the prescribed period of time, on the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms. In addition, businesses would be required to send their records to the prescribed official when it ceases to be a business. The prescribed official would be able to destroy the records at the time and in the circumstances that may be prescribed.
To prescribe the matters discussed above (information to be recorded, prescribed official, retention periods), the Firearms Licences Regulations would need to be amended. These Regulations govern the issuance of licences to individuals, applications for licences, refusals and revocations and the issuance of licences to businesses.
The Government is committed to implementing its firearms policy commitments and to keeping communities safe. The Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (former Bill C-71) provides for due diligence practices of firearms licence verification upon transfer of a non-restricted firearm and of the keeping of records of such firearms by businesses. The implementation of these measures through the proposed regulatory amendments is expected to reduce the illegal acquisition of such firearms and enhance the ability to trace non-restricted firearms that have become crime guns. It is also consistent with the Minister of Public Safety's mandate commitment to “continue to implement [the Government's] firearms commitments.”
The concrete objectives of these regulatory changes would be two-fold. First, it is expected that the licence verification provisions will result in a small number of non-restricted transfers being rejected, in the event the buyer is determined to not hold a licence. While the number is expected to be small, each case of rejection may help prevent future misuse of that firearm. Second, it is expected that the business record-keeping provisions will substantially improve firearm tracing success rates above the current average of 18% annually. This may in turn result in more firearms offence convictions, unearth straw purchasing operations, and return stolen firearms to their rightful owners.
The proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act (the proposed amendments) would amend three existing regulations and repeal one regulation.
The proposed regulatory amendments concerning licence verification would affect any individual or business involved in any transfer of non-restricted firearms (i.e., individual to individual, individual to business, business to individual, and business to business). The Conditions of Transferring Firearms and other Weapons Regulations would be amended to require licence verification prior to any transfer of a non-restricted firearm, as follows:
- A. The buyer would be required to provide the information contained on the front of the buyer's firearms licence card to the vendor (licence number, name, date of birth, date of expiration, height, gender, and eye colour). Businesses would then provide the buyer's information to the RCMP-CFP through an online portal or through a telephone call to the CFP's Call Centre. If the buyer's firearms licence is valid, the business will receive a reference number. If the licence is invalid, the request will be denied, and flagged to the applicable CFO for follow-up.
- B. The validity period of the reference number provided by the Registrar, if applicable, would be 90 days. While a licence could become invalid or be revoked during any length of time, the risk increases the longer the reference number remains valid, depending on the licence holder. A period of 90 days strikes a balance between limiting the window within which a licence could become invalid and reducing compliance burden on businesses. It would help to ensure that most transactions can be completed without having to make a new reference number request. In a very small number of instances – usually when the firearm is on back-order – the firearm will not be transferred until after the 90-day validity period expires, which will require an additional licence verification request just prior to the buyer taking actual possession.
The proposed amendments would affect firearms businesses authorized by their licence to engage in any business-related activities involving non-restricted firearms. The Firearms Licences Regulations would be amended to describe the information which businesses would be required to keep upon coming into force of the former Bill C-71 record-keeping provisions, the retention period, and the prescribed official to whom records must be forwarded by businesses that decide to cease operations.
- C. Firearms businesses would keep records which describe each firearm in their possession, and record activities related to each firearm, the date on which these activities are performed, and their disposal, as follows, in order to facilitate the tracing of firearms by law enforcement in the event that a firearm is diverted to the illicit market:
- i) Manufacturer, make, model, type of firearm, classification, action, gauge or caliber, barrel length, magazine capacity (in the case of a fixed magazine), and all serial numbers found on the frame and receiver.
- ii) Manufacture, importation, exportation, purchase, alteration, repair, storage, exhibition, deactivation, destruction, sale, barter, donation, consignment, pawn, or any other category related to the possession or disposal of the firearm, and the date on which the change occurred;
- iii) The name of the shipper, their permit number or carrier licence number, and the reference number, if the shipper is different from the business keeping the records.
- D. Businesses would be required to retain the possession and disposal records for 20 years from the record's creation.
- E. The Registrar would be the official to whom a firearms business must send its records, when it ceases to be a business.
- F. The Registrar would be able to destroy the business records received after 20 years from the day after the day on which they were received from that business.
- G. The Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms) would be repealed because they are inconsistent with the proposed amendments to the Firearms Licences Regulations (i.e., the former currently prohibits record-keeping while the amendments to the latter would require it).
- H. Unrelated to the former Bill C-71 legislative amendments, housekeeping amendments would be made to the Firearms Licences Regulations. Sections 6 to 8 of the Firearms Licences Regulations set out the licence application process for an older type of firearms licence, the Possession-Only Licence (POL), which no longer exists. In 2015, all remaining POLs were converted to the current Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). It is no longer possible to apply for a POL, which means that the requirements in sections 6 to 8 are now obsolete and will be repealed through the proposed amendments. Additionally, consequential amendments would be made to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) to remove four identical references to section 8 of the Firearms Licences Regulations given that references to the POL application process in these Regulations are also now obsolete.
No pre-consultations have been undertaken on the proposed amendments. The pre-publication consultation period, coupled with targeted engagement with key stakeholders, will provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on the proposal. To promote effective implementation, Public Safety Canada officials will proactively reach out to the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), the National Firearms Association (NFA), and the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR), to ensure that the views of business owners and firearms owners, who will be required to fulfill the proposed regulatory requirements, are taken into consideration.
Following the publication of the proposed amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Public Safety Canada officials will also engage stakeholder groups who advocate for gun control and on behalf of victims of gun violence to notify them of the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.
Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation, a preliminary assessment has been conducted for this proposal and there do not appear to be any implications on Canada's modern treaty obligations. The proposed changes to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) are technical housekeeping amendments that serve to update these Regulations so that they no longer reference obsolete sections of the Firearms Licences Regulations that will be repealed through this proposal. There are no anticipated impacts on Indigenous firearms licence holders as a result of this change. Following the publication of the proposed amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Public Safety Canada officials will engage national Indigenous organizations to notify them of the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.
The majority of firearms licence holders use non-restricted firearms legally for hunting, sport shooting or for collection purposes. However, licence verification on a voluntary basis leaves open the possibility that non-restricted firearms are being purchased by individuals who do not have a valid licence. As the Registrar is prohibited by law from recording voluntary verifications, there is no data on how many times a firearms licence is verified by the vendor. However, even if only a few firearms are sold to individuals who do not have a valid licence, this represents a risk to public safety that could have severe consequences (e.g., injury, spousal homicide, suicide or mass shooting). Therefore, leaving licence verification to voluntary action would continue to undermine public safety and is not recommended.
In the absence of legislation and regulations governing record-keeping, the businesses who do not keep records, or who do not collect the type of data specified in the proposed amendments, could sell firearms that cannot be traced if the need arises. The proposed regulatory amendments would help to ensure that a standardized approach to data collection and record-keeping on non-restricted firearms is taken across Canada, which could enhance firearms tracing by law enforcement agencies.
Benefits and costs
Public Safety Canada officials conducted a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the proposed amendments and found that firearms businesses are expected to incur new administrative and compliance costs. Additionally, incremental costs for the Government of Canada are also expected to support implementation of the proposed amendments.
The proposed regulatory amendments are expected to result in an annualized cost of $3.1M ($2.5M of which represents costs to businesses), as they require (1) the compliance activity of vendors verifying a buyer's firearms licence prior to transfer of non-restricted firearms (currently a voluntary practice); and (2) the administrative activity of businesses to build upon the existing record-keeping for their inventory of non-restricted firearms. The costs associated with the regulatory amendments include both administrative and compliance costs, as well as implementation costs for the federal government.
The analysis below presents both a baseline scenario (no regulatory amendments) and a scenario estimating the costs should the proposed amendments be implemented. The incremental costs between the two scenarios can be considered the impacts of the proposed amendments.
Licence verification costs
Baseline scenario (no regulatory changes): Businesses and individuals may, at their discretion, verify the firearms licence of a buyer upon transfer of a non-restricted firearm. Given that this is a voluntary practice and could be seen as burdensome, it is assumed that no individuals and only a small number of businesses would do so on a regular basis. This analysis presumes that only 1% of transfers of non-restricted firearms seek licence verification upon the transaction. Each request must be submitted by telephone to the Canadian Firearms Program's (CFP) Central Processing Site and requires no more than three minutes to provide the licence number and information of the buyer to obtain confirmation from the CFP.
Data on transfers of non-restricted firearms have not been available since 2012. From 2007-2012, the average number of transfers of non-restricted firearms per year was 620,303. As the number of licensees has increased by 17% since 2012, the number of non-restricted firearms that will need licence verifications is expected to be 725,755 per year. Based on these figures and the presumption that only 1% of transfers of non-restricted firearms seek licence verification, it is assumed that there are 7,258 licence verifications conducted annually. According to Statistics Canada's Labour Market Survey, the average hourly wage of a Canadian firearms sales associate is $22.65.footnote 1 Therefore, three minutes of effort to conduct a licence verification would cost $1.13. Total costs to the 1,468 businesses verifying a buyer's licence upon transfer of a non-restricted firearms is therefore 7,258 transactions/year X $1.13 cost/transaction = $8,202.
Costs for government are based on step 1 of a PM-01 salary of $54,878 for a staff member of the National Call Centre, CFP, RCMP, and a three-minute verification per request submitted by telephone. The total for 7,258 transactions/year X $1.75 cost/transaction is $12,702.
The total cost in the baseline scenario is therefore estimated at $20,904 per year.
Regulatory scenario: Should the proposed amendments be implemented, there could be up to 725,755 licence verifications for the transfer of non-restricted firearms per year. The CFP will be enhancing their online portal to allow for more efficient services to the public, which includes the development of a Business Web Services portal where businesses will be able to verify licences in lieu of submitting a request by telephone. Whether businesses or individuals seek licence verification through the National Call Centre or online through the web portal, both processes are expected to take no more than three minutes each. As a result, the cost of licence verification is expected to be 725,755 transactions/year X $1.13 wage/transaction = $820,103 per year, using 2020 Consumer Price Index rates.
For government costs, using the data from the current breakdown method used to apply for and renew non-restricted firearms licences, it is expected that 55% of requests would be submitted using the web portal, and 45% by telephone. The RCMP would incur no transactional costs for online requests as the web queries would automatically link into the licence database to confirm or deny the validity. The IT system upgrades that were required to operationalize this change are not included in these estimates, as they are considered sunk costs. For requests processed through the call centre, the 326,590 annual requests (45% of 725,755), at a cost per verification of $1.75 per transaction (each transaction will take three minutes), would cost the RCMP $571,532 per year.
It is also anticipated that businesses would incur a one-time cost for systems training. Training is anticipated to take 15 minutes/sales associate, with an average of 21 sales associates per business. The cost of training per business is $119, with a total training cost estimated at $174,525 in the first year of implementation.
Therefore, the incremental costs (i.e., regulatory amendment scenario costs minus the baseline scenario costs) for mandatory licence verification to businesses and individuals is estimated at $811,901 per year plus a one-time cost of $174,525, while the incremental costs to the government would be $558,830 per year.
In terms of benefits, the licence verification scheme's main impact should be on reducing the numbers of individuals that obtain a non-restricted firearm despite being ineligible to do so, either via a forged, revoked (but not surrendered), or stolen licence. Data on existing occurrence rates are not available. A secondary benefit is that the process of requiring consistent licence verification, combined with the record-keeping provisions, may allow the CFP to better identify the possibility that a small number of businesses may be wilfully or unknowingly contributing to the illicit diversion of firearms. Even if the number is small, the consequences are potentially significant. For example, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) released in 2000, 1.2% of firearms retailers in the U.S. were responsible for 57% of traced crime guns. While comparable Canadian statistics are not available, it is expected that similar outcomes are likely in Canada.
Record keeping costs
Baseline scenario (no changes to regulation): In Canada, there are currently 2,578 businesses, including retail firearms businesses, museums and gun smiths, that are licenced to sell or possess non-restricted firearms. Of that, 170 are museums, 940 are other types of businesses (e.g., gun smiths, importers/exporters), and 1,468 are retail firearm businesses. There are currently no record-keeping requirements in law for non-restricted firearms. While there is some indication that retail firearm businesses record and maintain inventory records on non-restricted firearms for business purposes such as processing returns, insurance, or warranty, for the purposes of this analysis, the current cost to business is estimated at $0 as no records are officially required.
Regulatory amendment scenario: All 2,578 businesses would be required to keep records for the inventory and transfer of all non-restricted firearms. As part of ongoing compliance with this process, businesses would be responsible for creating an inventory record for each non-restricted firearm, consisting of up to 6 distinct pieces of information. It is estimated that the time to record each non-restricted firearm would take 5 minutes. Using the average hourly wage (including a 25% cost for overhead) of $22.65 for a Canadian firearms sales associate (as described above), it would cost $1.88 to create one inventory record. Data on firearms inventories held by private businesses is not available. As such, for the purposes of this analysis, the anticipated number of licence verifications will be used as a proxy for the potential number of transfers of non-restricted firearms. Therefore, there would be 725,755 records to create or update each year, with an associated total annual cost to business estimated at $1,364,419.
It is also estimated that all 2,578 firearms businesses licenced to sell or possess non-restricted firearms would incur a one-time training cost for record keeping for non-restricted firearms and costs for changes to business management processes. It is assumed that training would take 30 minutes/sales associate, and that the 1,468 retail firearms businesses have 21 employees/business and the 1,110 other businesses (170 museums, 940 other (e.g., gun smith)) would have 5 employees/business. It would cost retail firearms businesses $238 and other businesses $57 for training, per business. Total one-time training costs for all 2,578 businesses is estimated to be $411,891.
If it is assumed it would take 7.5 hours for each business owner to change their business management processes to align with the new record keeping requirement, costs would be 7.5 hours per business X $70 hourly wage X 2,578 businesses licenced to sell non-restricted firearms = $1,354,729. Total training costs and updates to business management processes would be estimated at $1,766,620.
Therefore, the total incremental costs for businesses to come into compliance and implement a record keeping regime for non-restricted firearms would be an ongoing annual cost of $1,364,419 plus an upfront cost for training and development of business management processes of $1,766,620.
The anticipated benefits of the business record-keeping provisions are an increase in successful traces of non-restricted firearms, which would result in more successful criminal investigations involving non-restricted crime guns. The ability to trace not only expedites investigations on specific gun crimes and helps build a strong evidentiary case to obtain a conviction, it also assists in detecting the point at which the firearm became illicit to help reveal firearms trafficking and smuggling. The primary measurable benefit is expected to be an increased rate of successful traces for non-restricted firearms used in the commission of a crime or stolen. From 2018-20, the success rates for restricted and prohibited firearms – for which ownership and firearm characteristics records are kept by the Registrar – was 51% on average. Over the same period, tracing success rates for non-restricted firearms – for which no records are kept – was 18% on average.
With respect to privacy considerations, personal information is collected by the CFP through an application for a firearms licence (whether a new application or renewal), which is recorded in the Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS). Through this process, applicants acknowledge that the information contained in the application is obtained under the authority of the Firearms Act and that it will be used to determine eligibility and to administer and enforce the firearms legislation. This information is protected by the Privacy Act.
As indicated above, buyers would be required to give the information on the front of their licence card to vendors to permit licence verification. However, the former Bill C-71 and the proposed amendments do not require businesses to retain any information beyond the firearms licence number. Businesses may choose to retain other firearms licence information for their own purposes. If they do, the use and disclosure of that information would be governed by the applicable provincial or territorial privacy legislation governing businesses, or the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, where no such legislation exists.
Records that are transmitted by defunct firearms businesses to the Registrar (the prescribed official as noted above) could contain personal information (e.g., names and addresses of private citizens and commercial entities) that is exactly of the same nature that the CFP already holds for all of its licensees. This information is subject to exemption from disclosure as “third party commercial confidential information” under the Access to Information Act, and in some cases (e.g., records of transfers of non-restricted firearms to individuals), information that is protected under the Privacy Act. Only the Registrar would access the former business records to respond to judicial production orders and access to information requests.
- Number of years: 10 years (2021 to 2030)
- Base year for costing: 2020
- Present value base year: 2021
- Discount rate: 7%
|Impacted stakeholder||Description of cost||2021||2030||Total (present value)||Annualized value|
|Government - RCMP||Processing Licence Verifications||$566,185||$566,185||$4,060,823||$578,170|
|Industry – Licenced to sell/possess Non-Restricted firearms||Requesting Licence Verification||$988,520||$813,994||$6,085,678||$866,464|
|Industry – Licenced to sell/possess Non-Restricted firearms||Record Keeping||$3,131,436||$1,364,816||$11,677,786||$1,662,654|
|All stakeholders||Total costs||$4,686,140||$2,744,995||$21,824,287||$3,107,288|
Small business lens
It is estimated that the proposed amendments would impact 2,578 businesses, some of which are expected to be small businesses. While the exact number of these businesses that would be considered small is not known, it is likely that the proportion of small businesses within Canada for the industrial classification “All other sporting goods stores” (North American Industrial Classification code 451119) is a good indicator. This category contained 55.67% small businesses in 2018, which would imply that close to 1,435 of the impacted businesses described in the cost-benefit analysis above are likely to be considered small.
While small businesses are likely to face lower costs than the average business, due to lower overall sales volume and thus lower frequency of licence checking and record keeping, for the purpose of this analysis all of the assumptions from the cost-benefit analysis have been maintained. The result of this analysis can be seen in the following table.
When designing the proposed amendments, an attempt was made to limit costs on all businesses, including small businesses, by aligning record keeping requirements closely with current business practices for inventory needs. In addition, as mentioned above, an online system has been developed to expedite the licence confirmation process. Because the intended policy outcome of the proposed amendments is to enhance public safety, no further flexibilities for small business were considered appropriate.
- Number of small businesses impacted: 1435
- Number of years: 10 (2021 to 2030)
- Base year for costing: 2020
- Present value base year: 2021
- Discount rate: 7%
|Activity||Annualized value||Present value|
|Total compliance cost||$482,361||$3,387,903|
|Activity||Annualized value||Present value|
|Total administrative cost||$925,601||$6,501,036|
|Totals||Annualized value||Present value|
|Total cost (all impacted small businesses)||$1,407,962||$9,888,939|
|Cost per impacted small business||$981||$6,890|
The one-for-one rule applies since the proposed amendments would result in an incremental increase in administrative burden on business, and the proposal is considered burden in under the rule. The increase in administrative burden stems from the requirement for businesses to familiarize themselves with the new record-keeping requirements as well as to complete, file, and retrieve as needed, records on the transfers (e.g., sales) of non-restricted firearms they undertake.
Using the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Regulatory Cost Calculator, it is estimated that the annualized average incremental increase in administrative burden imposed on firearms businesses licenced to sell non-restricted firearms would be $803,374 in 2012 dollars and discounted to 2012 using a 7% discount rate.
The proposed amendments would repeal the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms), which would not result in an increase or decrease in administrative burden (the repeal would only remove an existing prohibition on record-keeping). As such, Element B of the one-for-one rule applies since a regulatory title is repealed, and the proposal is considered a title out.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
Canada is a signatory to CIFTA (Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials), but has not ratified the Convention. CIFTA requires that member states make illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms illegal; pass legislation requiring the marking of firearms for the purpose of identifying and tracing; and have an effective system of export, import, and international transit licenses or authorizations for transfers of firearms and ammunition; among other requirements. Enhancing tracing ability through business record-keeping could be an additional step toward possible ratification of CIFTA by Canada.
While Canada has not formally adopted it, it recognizes the “International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons,” which is part of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. This instrument was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. It indicates that states commit to small arms and light weapons being properly marked, and that records be kept, and provides for a retention period of 20 years for firearms transfers and other records.
The minimum 20-year period for which businesses would retain their records of the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms is aligned with similar regulations in the U.S., as well as legislation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France, which requires business records retention for not less than 20 years.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)
A GBA+ analysis was conducted to support development of the former Bill C-71 legislative amendments and the accompanying regulatory amendments. The Firearms Act applies equally to all Canadians. However, the vast majority of firearms licence holders are men (the ratio of male to female licensees is approximately 8:1). As such, any regulatory burden that the proposed amendments may impose on individuals is likely to predominantly impact men.
While a majority of Canada’s population is located in urban areas, firearms licence holders tend to be spread more evenly across urban and rural areas. Owners of registered restricted and prohibited firearms tend to be slightly more concentrated in urban rather than in rural areas, with the reverse for non-restricted firearms. As such, it is possible that the proposed amendments (which impact non-restricted firearms) may impact Canadians living in rural areas more than those living in urban areas.
Licence verification could help to prevent intimate-partner violence (IPV) and other crimes in instances where the Registrar would refuse to issue a reference number for the purchase of a firearm, in cases where a licence is no longer valid due to a history of violence or domestic violence or IPV. Although the overall incidence of firearm-related IPV is low, women are at a higher risk. IPV rates are the highest for women living in rural areas and higher for Indigenous women and women with disabilities – although information is limited on the use of firearms in these instances. In 2018, female victims accounted for 86% of police-reported intimate-partner violence incidents involving a firearm (510 female victims). To the extent that the proposed amendments could help to prevent IPV, women, particularly Indigenous women and women with disabilities, may benefit from this proposal.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
The intent is to bring the enabling legislative changes (made through former Bill C-71) and the proposed regulatory amendments on licence verification and business record-keeping into force at the same time in Fall 2021.
In conjunction with Public Safety Canada, the RCMP would communicate the coming into force of the Act and associated regulatory amendments to the public via the CFP website. Information would also be made available via telephone through the CFP Contact Center. Furthermore, the RCMP will use communication products (e.g., proactive emails to licensees to raise awareness) to help firearms licence holders and businesses prepare for implementation. The CFP website will also provide guidance to all licensees (individuals and businesses) to support the transition. Contact information will be included in the communication materials, should individuals or businesses require additional support.
Compliance and Enforcement
The CFP uses proactive communication to licence holders and businesses to promote compliance with the Firearms Act and its Regulations, as well as to promote the responsible use and ownership of firearms. Under the Firearms Act, businesses are subject to inspections used to monitor compliance with their business licence, which correspond to a business’s licence renewal (e.g., which could be on a three-year cycle). In instances of non-compliance, a CFO has the authority to revoke a business licence on reasonable grounds to believe that the licensee is ineligible to hold a licence. Similarly, during the course of a police investigation, businesses subject to a judicial authorization (e.g., search warrant) would have to provide their relevant records to law enforcement officers. Under these circumstances, there is potentially an opportunity to verify compliance with licence verification and record-keeping requirements.
Enforcement of the proposed amendments is provided for under Criminal Code and the Firearms Act. For licence verification, the Criminal Code (section 99) provides that it is an offence for a business or individual to transfer a firearm to someone knowing the person does not have a valid licence. The penalty is a maximum of ten years of imprisonment.
Concerning the requirement to keep records as a condition of a business licence, the Firearms Act (section 110) makes it an offence for a person to contravene a condition of a licence without lawful excuse. The penalty is a maximum of two years of imprisonment, if it is an indictable offence, or a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to two years less a day, or both, if punishable on summary conviction. Contravention of a licence condition would also be grounds for revocation of the licence.
Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Division,
PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT
Notice is given that the Administrator in Council, pursuant to paragraphs 117(a), (c.1)footnote a, (m)footnote b, (n.1)footnote c, (u) and (w) of the Firearms Actfootnote d, proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act.
Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to the Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Division, Public Safety Canada, 269 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ottawa, June 10, 2021
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council
Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act
Firearms Licences Regulations
1 (1) The heading before section 6 and sections 6 to 8 of the Firearms Licences Regulationsfootnote 3 are repealed.
(2) The heading before section 8.1 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
Renewal of Possession and Acquisition Licences for Firearms
(3) Sections 8.1 and 8.2 of the Regulations are replaced by the following:
8.2 Sections 8.3 to 8.5 apply in respect of the renewal of a licence to possess and acquire firearms issued to an individual.
2 Section 8.5 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
8.5 Sections 3 to 5 do not apply to the renewal of a licence.
3 Paragraph 14(1)(d) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (d) be signed on the back by the person who, in accordance with paragraph 3(1)(b) or 9(1)(b) as the case may be, signs a statement in the application confirming that the photograph accurately identifies the applicant, together with both that person’s and the applicant’s name printed legibly on the back.
4 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 24:
24.1 (1) The following information is prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 58.1(1)(a) of the Act:
- (a) the classification of the firearm;
- (b) the date and an indication of any business activity related to the possession or the disposal of the firearm, including, if applicable, its purchase, sale, bartering, gifting, consignment, importation, exportation, repair, alteration, deactivation, destruction, manufacture, pawnbroking, storage and display;
- (c) the firearm’s manufacturer, make, model, type, action, gauge or calibre, barrel length and, in the case of a fixed magazine, magazine capacity;
- (d) all serial numbers on the firearm’s frame or receiver;
- (e) the name and address of the individual or business to which the firearm was sent, or from which the firearm was received, in the course of any business activity referred to in paragraph (b) other than an activity that relates to a transfer of the firearm, if applicable; and
- (f) if the business caused the firearm to be shipped by another person, the name of the shipper or carrier, their licence number or permit number, if applicable, and the package tracking number of the shipped firearm.
(2) The prescribed period for the purposes of paragraph 58.1(1)(a) of the Act is a period of 20 years that begins on the day on which the record is created.
(3) The prescribed official for the purposes of paragraph 58.1(1)(c) and subsection 58.1(2) of the Act is the Registrar.
(4) For the purposes of subsection 58.1(2) of the Act, the records transmitted by the business may be destroyed at the end of the 20-year period that begins on the day on which they were received from that business.
Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations
5 The definition non-restricted firearm in section 1 of the Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulationsfootnote 4 is repealed.
6 (1) Subsection 3(1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
3 (1) For the purposes of paragraph 23.2(1)(f) of the Act, a transferor must meet the condition that they provide the Registrar with the names and the licence numbers of the transferor and the transferee.
(2) The portion of subsection 3(3) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
(3) For the purposes of paragraph 23.2(1)(f) of the Act, the transferee must meet the following conditions:
(3) The portion of paragraph 3(3)(a) of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:
- (a) if the transferee is an individual and the firearm is a restricted firearm or a handgun referred to in subsection 12(6.1) of the Act, the transferee must inform the chief firearms officer of their reasons
(4) The portion of paragraph 3(3)(b) of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:
- (b) if the transferee wishes to acquire a restricted firearm or a handgun referred to in subsection 12(6.1) of the Act to form part of their gun collection, the transferee must provide the chief firearms officer with
7 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 4:
Information Relating to Transferee’s Licence
5 The prescribed information for the purpose of subsection 23(2) of the Act is all of the information set out on the front of the transferee’s licence, including the photograph.
6 For the purposes of the issuance of a reference number under section 23 of the Act, the transferor must, when making a request to the Registrar under paragraph 23(1)(b) of the Act, confirm that they have taken reasonable steps to verify that the transferee is the holder of the licence, including
- (a) in the case of a transfer that is completed in person, whether in whole or in part, by comparing the photograph on the licence with the person presenting themselves as the transferee; and
- (b) in all other cases,
- (i) by using the method set out in paragraph (a), or
- (ii) if the comparison cannot be undertaken using that method, by comparing the information on the transferee’s licence with another piece of photo identification that has been issued by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or a municipality.
Period of Validity of Reference Number
7 The prescribed period for the purposes of subsection 23(4) of the Act is 90 days.
8 (1) The portion of section 10 of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (a)(i) is replaced by the following:
10 For the purposes of subsection 26(1) of the Act, a transferor must comply with the following conditions to transfer a firearm to Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province, to a police force or to a municipality:
- (a) the transferor must provide the Registrar with
(2) Paragraph 10(b) of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (b) the transferor must obtain a receipt from the transferee that identifies the date of the transfer and describes the firearm transferred.
9 Section 11 of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
11 For the purposes of subsection 26(2) of the Act, to transfer a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition or prohibited ammunition to Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province, to a police force or to a municipality, a transferor must obtain a receipt from the person accepting the transfer on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province or on behalf of a police force or a municipality that identifies the date of the transfer and describing the goods transferred.
10 Section 12 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
12 For the purposes of section 32 of the Act, before transferring a firearm by mail, a transferor must obtain all copies of registration certificates and authorizations that the Act requires for the transfer to occur.
Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms)
11 Paragraph 2(d) of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms)footnote 5 is replaced by the following:
- (d) for the purposes of applying these Regulations, other than section 20 of these Regulations, has made an application in accordance with section 3 or 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations, as adapted by section 6 of these Regulations.
12 Sections 5 and 6 of the Regulations are replaced by the following:
5 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted such that a statement made by an Aboriginal applicant or by another Aboriginal person in accordance with any of those sections may be made
- (a) orally, if the applicant or person is unable to make a written statement, in which case the oral statement must be transcribed by a person acting on behalf of the applicant or person; and
- (b) by means of an interpreter, if the applicant or person is unable to communicate in English or French.
6 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted such that an application made by an individual who wishes to be subject to these Regulations must be accompanied by the following information:
- (a) a declaration that the individual
- (i) is a member of one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada,
- (ii) is a member of an Aboriginal community, and
- (iii) engages in the traditional hunting practices of the individual’s Aboriginal community; and
- (b) confirmation from an elder or a leader of the individual’s Aboriginal community that the individual is a member of that community and engages in the traditional hunting practices of that community.
13 Section 7 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
7 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted by adding the requirement that, if a chief firearms officer considers refusing to issue a licence to an Aboriginal applicant, the applicant must be given an opportunity to submit to the chief firearms officer for consideration recommendations from an elder or leader of the applicant’s Aboriginal community regarding the importance to the applicant of engaging in traditional hunting practices.
14 The heading before section 18 and sections 18 and 19 of the Regulations are repealed.
Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms)
15 The Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms)footnote 6 are repealed.
16 The Firearms Licences Regulations, as they read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations, continue to apply until October 1, 2022, in respect of a business referred to in paragraph 58.1(1)(c) of the Firearms Act that ceases to be a business on or after the day on which these Regulations come into force.
Coming into Force
17 These Regulations come into force on the day on which section 7 of An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, chapter 9 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019, comes into force, but if they are registered after that day, they come into force on the day on which they are registered.