Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations: SOR/2020-254
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 154, Number 25
SOR/2020-254 November 30, 2020
P.C. 2020-959 November 27, 2020
Whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that the change made to the Firearms Marking Regulations footnote a by the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations is so immaterial and insubstantial that section 118 of the Firearms Act footnote b should not be applicable in the circumstances;
And whereas the 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, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to section 117 footnote c of the Firearms Act footnote b, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations.
Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations
1 Section 6 of the Firearms Marking Regulations footnote 1 is replaced by the following:
6 These Regulations come into force on December 1, 2023.
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.)
The Firearms Marking Regulations (the Regulations) are set to come into force on December 1, 2020. In order to ensure the Regulations achieve their intended purpose of supporting law enforcement in tracing the criminal use of firearms, additional time is required to develop amendments to the existing Regulations. A deferral of the coming-into-force date of the Regulations is needed.
The marking of firearms is a critical element in the process of tracing crime guns and combatting illicit activity, including the trafficking and stockpiling of firearms. Firearms tracing is the practice of determining the history of a recovered or seized firearm from the point of manufacture or importation, through the supply chain, until they become illicit. Tracing is a best practice undertaken at the outset of an investigation and can assist in focusing investigations, offering early investigative leads, and contributing to cost efficiencies by linking crime guns to businesses in Canada rather than overseas. It also forms a key component of treaties of the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) and is an essential tool for international firearms investigations involving Interpol and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others.
In order to comply with UN and OAS treaties, Canada would be required, among other things, to administer a scheme for the marking of firearms. In addition to being treaty imperatives, firearms markings have value for domestic law enforcement, as they can be used to combat the criminal use of firearms and to return a stolen firearm to its lawful owner.
The marking of specific information on firearms is a key element of the tracing process, and is one of several requirements of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition (the UN Firearms Protocol) and the OAS Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA). These international treaties seek to counter the illegal production and movement of firearms by enabling crime guns to be traced in order to combat terrorism, organized crime and other criminal activities. Canada signed the UN Firearms Protocol in 2002 and CIFTA in 1997, but has not yet ratified either of these treaties.
In Canada, only a third of firearms are recovered from incidents of violent crime, and only a fraction of those recovered are sent for tracing. Current success rates of firearms tracing in Canada vary widely. Without sufficient information on the origin of firearms, reducing firearm smuggling, diversion to the illicit market, and curbing violent crime involving a firearm remain challenging. The marking of firearms would support law enforcement investigations in tracing firearms to the legal owner.
Markings regulations overview
In 2004, the Governor in Council made the Regulations in response to the marking requirements outlined in the aforementioned international treaties. The Regulations stipulate that (a) the markings need to be permanently stamped or engraved on the frame or receiver of all firearms manufactured in, or imported into, Canada; (b) domestically manufactured firearms must bear the name of the manufacturer, the serial number and “Canada” or “CA”, while imported firearms must be marked with “Canada” or “CA” and the last two digits of the year of import, e.g. “20” for 2020; and (c) the markings must be of specific dimensions to prevent obliteration of the data and allow for tracing. While introduced in 2004, the Regulations were never implemented and have yet to take effect.
In response to requests by firearms businesses for additional preparatory time, the coming into force of the Regulations was changed to 2006 and subsequently deferred another eight times, as other elements of the legal regime governing firearms have continued to evolve in ways that would further reduce the viability of the Regulations. The last deferral changed the coming-into-force date of the Regulations from December 1, 2018, to December 1, 2020.
As the Regulations were established on the premise of a universal record keeping system, the ending of the long-gun registry in 2012 significantly reduced the effectiveness of the current markings regime. The long-gun registry accounted for approximately 90% of the records for non-restricted firearms in Canada, and there are currently no record-keeping requirements for businesses.
On June 21, 2019, Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to Firearms, received royal assent. Provisions under Bill C-71 relating to business sales record keeping, including the authority to make it punishable to contravene the Firearms Marking Regulations and the authority to make regulations regarding the transmission of records — both of which came into effect upon royal assent — and the requirement for businesses to keep sales records of non-restricted firearms for 20 years (not yet in force), will help to support amendments to the Regulations and their efficacy. The efficiencies of tracing are realized when a record of the most recent legal owner can be linked to a specific combination of information (serial number, name of manufacturer, etc.), which is marked on the firearm. Consequently, the requirements of the existing Regulations are not sufficient to uniquely identify the legal owner of the firearm in order to facilitate tracing.
The objective of this amendment is to defer the coming-into-force date of the Regulations to provide additional time to develop a new marking regime that effectively supports law enforcement in tracing crime guns.
This amendment defers the coming-into-force date of the Firearms Marking Regulations for another three years, from December 1, 2020, to December 1, 2023.
In previous deferral periods, consultations took place with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and through the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee (CFAC). The CFAC membership typically includes representatives from the legal community, law enforcement, public health advocates, tourism and agriculture industries, shooting sports associations and women’s and victims’ groups.
The consultations with the RCMP, CBSA and GAC led to the conclusion that bringing the Regulations into force without addressing the record-keeping issues associated with the aforementioned ending of the long-gun registry would not help to facilitate the effective tracing of non-restricted crime guns. If the Regulations were to be implemented as currently drafted, the intended benefits of these Regulations to public safety would not be realized.
Some firearms advocates have recommended against bringing the Regulations into force as currently drafted because they perceive them to be both unnecessary and costly. Others, such as Canadian firearm stakeholders, have expressed an interest in working with government to develop a workable regime and avoid the business uncertainty. Feedback received from industry highlights the need to respect the privacy of firearm owners, given the absence of the long-gun registry, which ended in 2012. Industry is keenly interested on collaborating with government to develop an eventual markings regime, due to the financial and operational impacts a markings regime could have on affected businesses, including manufacturing and supply chain operations. Law enforcement representatives support the Regulations taking effect, given the value of markings for firearms tracing and criminal investigations and, in turn, the associated benefits to public safety and national security.
Given that another deferral of the coming-into-force date would have no direct impact on stakeholders, a prepublication comment period in the Canada Gazette, Part I, was not undertaken for this amendment.
A regulatory amendment to defer the coming-into-force date of the Regulations to December 1, 2023, was determined to be the most efficient and flexible approach to supporting the development of an effective markings regime in Canada. A three-year deferral would provide an opportunity to develop amendments to the existing Regulations in order to achieve their intended purpose effectively. This time would allow for continued consultations with key firearms stakeholders and law enforcement partners in order to develop regulations beneficial to all parties impacted.
Firearm industry stakeholders have voiced concern in the past on deferring the Regulations, as repeated deferrals have resulted in businesses investing in markings equipment, maintenance, and even equipment replacement in anticipation of the Regulations coming into effect. Industry stakeholders have sought, and continue to seek, certainty on the way forward and the timing for firearms markings, as well as ensuring that industry is a key partner in the development and implementation of an effective markings regime. Should the Regulations come into force as they are on December 1, 2020, they would provide little value to domestic law enforcement to adequately trace firearms used in illicit activity.
Repealing the Regulations prior to having new regulations in place would be acting in a manner that is inconsistent with the object and purpose of the aforementioned international conventions and protocols to which Canada is a signatory.
Benefits and costs
This amendment would not result in costs for industry or other stakeholders, Canadians or the Government of Canada given that it would only modify the coming-into-force date in the Regulations. The deferral period would provide additional time to improve the effectiveness of the Regulations (i.e. in a manner that would be beneficial to domestic and international law enforcement and manageable for firearms businesses) as well as support the coming into force of certain provisions in Bill C-71 (i.e. those that will require businesses to keep sales records of non-restricted firearms for 20 years). This work began during the previous deferral period, but more time is required due to the complexity of the issue (i.e. alignment with the implementation of provisions in Bill C-71 related to record keeping, and with RCMP initiatives for enhanced tracing capacity). In the future, the markings of firearms together with records of sale and importation are expected to enhance tracing capabilities for law enforcement investigations.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this amendment, since there are no changes in costs to small businesses. Deferring the Regulations for an additional three years will take the short-term financial burden off small firearms businesses that would otherwise be required to obtain marking equipment to ensure compliance.
The one-for-one rule does not apply to this amendment, since there is no change in administrative costs for businesses.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
In order to comply with the marking requirements set out in the UN Firearms Protocol and the OAS CIFTA, Canada is required to develop a markings regime to effectively trace the origin of firearms imported to and manufactured in Canada. A markings regime would aim to support domestic law enforcement in tracing crime guns to their point of entry into the illicit market and would allow Canada to ratify the international treaties. During the development of future amendments to the Regulations, regulatory alignment and regulatory cooperation will be taken into consideration, as applicable.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with theCabinet 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
No gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) impacts have been identified.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
This amendment to the Regulations would come into force upon registration.
Compliance and enforcement
The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program will inform firearms businesses and law enforcement stakeholders of the deferral of the coming-into-force date through the RCMP’s website.
Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Division
Public Safety Canada
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