Order Amending the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2020): SOR/2023-223
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, Number 23
SOR/2023-223 October 20, 2023
P.C. 2023-1052 October 20, 2023
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, makes the annexed Order Amending the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2020) under subsection 117.14(1)footnote a of the Criminal Code footnote b.
Order Amending the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2020)
1 Subsection 2(3) of the Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2020) footnote 1 is replaced by the following:
(3) The amnesty period begins on May 1, 2020 and ends on October 30, 2025.
Coming into Force
2 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 May 1, 2020, over 1 500 makes and models of assault-style firearms (ASFs) and their variants became prohibited. At the same time, the upper receivers of M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 pattern firearms also became prohibited devices. These changes resulted from the Regulations Amending the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted (the Regulations). The accompanying Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2020) [the Amnesty Order] protects individuals and businesses (affected owners) who were in lawful possession of one or more of the firearms or devices prohibited on May 1, 2020 (the prohibited items) from criminal liability while they take steps to come into compliance with the law. Affected owners must continue to hold a valid licence during the amnesty period. The Amnesty Order expires on October 30, 2023.
During the amnesty period, affected owners have a variety of options to dispose of their prohibited items in order to come into compliance with the law, including (1) having them deactivated by an approved business; (2) delivering them to a police officer; (3) legally exporting them and (4) if a business, return them to the manufacturer. Extending the Amnesty Order facilitates compliance with the law and maintains public safety by providing more time to access these disposal options. To allow further time for affected owners to come into compliance with the law, the Amnesty Order would extend the expiry date to October 30, 2025.
The Regulations and the Amnesty Order came into force on May 1, 2020. The Regulations prohibited approximately 1 500 models of firearms, principally from nine families of firearms, including their variants (current and future). Firearms capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10 000 joules or with a bore diameter of 20 mm or greater were also prohibited because their characteristics exceed safe civilian use. The Regulations also prescribed the upper receivers of M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 pattern firearms to be prohibited devices.
An Amnesty Order under the Criminal Code, which accompanied the Regulations, protects affected owners from criminal liability for possession of the prohibited items and provides time for affected owners to come into compliance with the law. On March 4, 2022, the Amnesty Order was amended to expand the scope of protection and was extended to October 30, 2023 (SOR/2022-45).
The total number of affected ASFs is estimated to be approximately 150 000. Of these, 110 292 were formerly classified as restricted. The remaining approximately 39 708 ASFs were previously classified as non-restricted. This is an estimate since non-restricted firearms are not required to be registered in accordance with the Firearms Act and therefore the total volume in Canada is unknown. The number of affected prohibited devices is also unknown. Since the prohibition on May 1, 2020, approximately 1 200 prohibited firearms that were formerly restricted and registered have been turned in and destroyed.
Upon expiration of the Amnesty Order, affected owners who remain in possession of the prohibited items would be subject to criminal liability and possible imprisonment under the Criminal Code, including for illegal possession of the prohibited items.
The objective of the amended Amnesty Order is to provide affected owners with continued protection from criminal liability and additional time to come into compliance with the law by accessing the disposal options available under the Amnesty Order.
The Amnesty Order has been extended to October 30, 2025, to provide affected owners additional time to come into compliance with the law.
The extension of the Amnesty Order does not alter the scope of its protection or the conditions that must be met to enjoy its protection. The amendment only extends the Amnesty Order to provide affected owners more time to come into compliance with the law by accessing the disposal options available under the Amnesty Order. Therefore, no formal consultations were conducted.
A prepublication comment period in the Canada Gazette, Part I, was not undertaken because doing so would have resulted in a gap in protection for affected owners who would, in the absence of an amnesty order, have been exposed to criminal liability. The amendments do not create new offences in the Criminal Code, nor do they impose any new restrictions or burdens on affected owners.
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 initiative and there do not appear to be any implications on Canada’s modern treaty obligations. The Amnesty Order will continue to permit those who hunt for sustenance purposes or who exercise a right recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to transport an ASF that was previously classified as a non-restricted firearm so that they can continue to be used safely for such purposes.
No non-regulatory options were considered as amendments to the Amnesty Order were necessary to address the matters identified and to enable the extension.
Benefits and costs
The extension of time provides continued protection from criminal liability and more opportunities to affected owners who have not yet come into compliance with the law.
Costs would be incurred by the Department of Justice Canada and Public Safety Canada for the preparation and implementation of the extension of the Amnesty Order. However, it is anticipated that they would not be significant.
Small business lens
The extension of time provides affected businesses protection from potential criminal liability as they take steps to come into compliance with the law. Given the context of the instrument, no additional flexibilities were considered necessary for small businesses.
The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there will be no incremental change in administrative burden to businesses. The amendments to the Amnesty Order do not introduce new administrative requirements for businesses.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
The extension of the Amnesty Order does not raise trade law implications as they do not involve the sale, import or export of firearms. The initiative is not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum.
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
A gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) assessment was completed to determine whether the amendments would have differential impacts on Canadians based on factors such as gender, age, Indigenous identity, geography, etc. The extension would have a gender differential impact, as men are more likely to possess and use firearms compared to women. Additionally, based on existing survey data suggesting that more people in rural areas own firearms, the extension is expected to have a disproportionately positive impact on people living in certain areas of the country (e.g. rural), where firearms are more prominent. The extension is expected to continue to disproportionately benefit Indigenous persons, as they likely form the majority of sustenance hunters and/or those exercising a right recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Amnesty Order came into force on May 1, 2020, to allow affected owners time to come into compliance with the law. Given the estimated volume of the prohibited items in circulation (150 000 ASFs and an unknown number of affected prohibited devices), but with only 1 200 disposed of to date, additional time for affected owners to take steps to comply with the law is clearly required. The extension of the Amnesty Order provides affected owners with continued protection and more time to come into compliance with the law by accessing the disposal options under the Amnesty Order. If the Amnesty Order is not extended, affected owners will be in illegal possession on the date of expiry (i.e. October 30, 2023).
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
The extended Amnesty Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered and will expire on October 30, 2025. Those who remain in possession of the prohibited items at the end of the amnesty period could be subject to criminal liability for unlawful possession and any other applicable Criminal Code offences.
Compliance and enforcement
As with the Regulations and original Amnesty Order, the disposal of prohibited items is dependent on voluntary compliance by affected owners. Calculation of the compliance rate will be complicated by the lack of information about the prohibited items and their owners. The compliance rate for previously non-restricted firearms will be based on the number of owners who declare themselves to be in possession of one or more affected firearms, possible compensation, and the deactivation process.
Public Safety Canada
Telephone: 613‑944‑4875 or 1‑800‑830‑3118
Department of Justice Canada