Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2018): SOR/2018-46
Canada Gazette, Part II: Volume 152, Number 7
March 20, 2018
P.C. 2018-301 March 20, 2018
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, pursuant to subsection 117.14(1)footnote a of the Criminal Code footnote b, makes the annexed Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2018).
Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2018)
Definition of firearm
1 In this Order, firearm means any of the following prohibited firearms:
- (a) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Classic Green Sniper rifle;
- (b) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Ver rifle;
- (c) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Aestas rifle;
- (d) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Autumnus rifle; and
- (e) a SAN Swiss Arms Model Hiemis 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 the day on which 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 a 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; and
- (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 February 28, 2021.
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.)
This Order Declaring an Amnesty Period (2018) [the
“Amnesty Order”] is adopted pursuant to subsection 117.14(1) of the Criminal Code footnote 1 (the
“Code”). It temporarily protects current owners of four previously unknown models of Swiss Arms rifles, named Hiemis (Winter), Ver (Spring), Aestas (Summer) and Autumnus (Fall) [the
“Four Seasons Series”] and a previously unknown model of the Swiss Arms Classic Green rifles (the
“Classic Green Sniper rifle”), who have acted in good faith, from criminal liability for possession of a prohibited firearm.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was made aware that these firearms have been imported into Canada and are prohibited firearms because they are variants of the prohibited Sturmgewehr SG-550, pursuant to subsection 84(1) of the Code and 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 footnote 2 (the
“Regulations”). Individuals and businesses that possess a prohibited Four Seasons Series or a Classic Green Sniper rifle would, in the absence of the Amnesty Order, be in unlawful possession of a firearm and could be liable to prosecution under the Code, with maximum penalties upon conviction of 5 or 10 years in prison, depending upon the offence charged.
Firearms fall into three legal categories: 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 Code and 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 BM 59, M16) as restricted or prohibited, and include
“variants and modified versions” of those named models (e.g. any version of the Beretta BM 59 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. Firearms that are not restricted or prohibited are, by default, legally classified as non-restricted.
The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) is responsible for the administration of the Firearms Act footnote 3 and for providing technical expertise to determine the classification of firearms for registration purposes. To aid in this process, the RCMP created the Firearms Reference Table (FRT), an administrative web-based database that contains determinations regarding the classification of all known firearms in the global market.
Occasionally, it comes to the CFP’s attention that a previously unknown firearm has been imported into Canada before the CFP has had an opportunity to examine and determine the legal classification of the firearm. There may be firearms owners who acquired these firearms with the belief that they have the ability to lawfully possess them in Canada. However, on occasion, the firearm may be determined to be a prohibited firearm according to the definitions set out in the Code and or as variants or modified versions of a listed prohibited firearm in the Regulations. Subject to very few exceptions, it is illegal in Canada for individuals to possess prohibited firearms and, as a result, in such cases, the affected firearms owner could be subject to criminal liability for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm.
Resulting from a technical analysis by the CFP, the Swiss Arms Four Seasons Series and the Classic Green Sniper rifle are determined to be variants of an existing firearm currently classified as prohibited (the Sturmgewehr SG-550 rifle), therefore by extension classifying these variants as prohibited firearms.
The objective of the Amnesty Order is to temporarily protect businesses and individuals who have acquired prohibited weapons while acting in good faith from criminal prosecution while the Government implements measures to address continued possession and use, and to limit circulation of those prohibited firearms.
The Amnesty Order will be in effect until February 28, 2021. Persons who hold a firearms licence and are in continuous possession, prior to and up until the Amnesty Order is signed, of a SAN Swiss Arms Model Classic Green Sniper rifle, a SAN Swiss Arms Model Ver rifle, a SAN Swiss Arms Model Aestas rifle, a SAN Swiss Arms Model Autumnus rifle or a SAN Swiss Arms Model Hiemis rifle, will be protected from criminal prosecution for possessing them until such time as new measures are in place to authorize the lawful possession of these firearms.
The Order 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.
“One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs on small business.
Given the possibility of criminal liability associated with possessing a prohibited firearm, the Government has moved to implement the Amnesty Order expeditiously and, as a result, no consultations have been undertaken relative to this Order.
The Government of Canada wants to ensure that firearm owners who acted in good faith and acquired the firearms before the coming into force of the Amnesty Order are protected from prosecution for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm.
There are no cost implications associated with this Amnesty Order.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Communication efforts will explain how firearm owners in possession of the Four Seasons and Classic Green Sniper rifles who acted in good faith are not subject to criminal consequences during the amnesty period until the Government implements a permanent solution. 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. These will include bulletins, news releases and notices on Government websites. Telephone operators at 1-800-O-Canada, in addition to the general enquiry services within the RCMP and Public Safety Canada, will respond to questions regarding the amnesty and their legal responsibilities to take positive steps to comply with firearms legislation.
Public Safety Canada
269 Laurier Avenue, West
- 613-944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118