Vol. 151, No. 11 — May 31, 2017
SOR/2017-88 May 12, 2017
Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations
P.C. 2017-515 May 12, 2017
Whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that the change made to the Firearms Marking Regulations (see footnote a) by the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations is so immaterial and insubstantial that section 118 of the Firearms Act (see footnote b) should not be applicable in the circumstances;
And whereas the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness 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, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to section 117 (see footnote c) of the Firearms Act (see footnote d), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations.
Regulations Amending the Firearms Marking Regulations
1 Section 6 of the Firearms Marking Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
6 These Regulations come into force on December 1, 2018.
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.)
Additional time is required to develop amendments to the Firearms Marking Regulations (the Regulations) in order to ensure they achieve their intended purpose, which is to facilitate the ability of law enforcement to trace the criminal use of firearms. Deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations from June 1, 2017, to December 1, 2018, is required.
The primary purpose for marking firearms is to enable law enforcement to trace crime guns, and to combat the trafficking and stockpiling of firearms, in the interests of public safety and national security. Firearms tracing is a best practice undertaken at the outset of an investigation. Tracing is the systematic tracking of the history of recovered or seized firearms from the point of manufacture or importation, through the supply chain, until they became illicit. Tracing can offer early investigative leads, contribute to cost efficiencies for law enforcement by simplifying efforts, focus investigations given that time is critical to solving crimes, and help to build a strong evidentiary case to obtain a conviction.
The marking of specific information on firearms 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 (UN Firearms Protocol) and the Organization of American States (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 order to comply with these treaties, Canada requires, among other things, 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 Firearms Marking Regulations, drafted to respond to the aforementioned international treaties, were made by the Governor in Council in 2004, but not brought into force. The Regulations stipulate the type of markings that need to be permanently stamped or engraved on the frame or receiver of all firearms imported into, or manufactured in, Canada. Currently, the Regulations prescribe that domestically manufactured firearms must bear the name of the manufacturer, serial number and “Canada” or “CA;” imported firearms must be marked with “Canada” or “CA” and the last two digits of the year of import, e.g. “17” for 2017. The markings must be of specific dimensions to prevent obliteration of the data and to allow for tracing.
In response to requests by firearms businesses for additional preparatory time, the coming into force of the Regulations was amended to 2006 and subsequently deferred seven times. The last deferral amended the coming-into-force date of the Regulations from December 1, 2015, to June 1, 2017.
With tracing, firearms are matched to existing records. However, the utility of the existing Regulations is diminished by the destruction of the long-gun registry (i.e. the destruction of approximately 90% of records for firearms in Canada) and the absence of business record-keeping requirements, since 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 requirement of the Regulations to mark “Canada” or “CA” and the year of import on all firearms imported into Canada is not sufficient to uniquely identify the legal importer of the firearm to facilitate tracing. An appropriate markings scheme must be devised.
The deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations permits the Government of Canada to develop amendments to the Regulations so that they achieve their intended purpose of enabling the tracing of crime guns by law enforcement agencies. Over the course of the next 18 months, a marking scheme would be developed in order to improve its effectiveness. These proposed amendments would aim to enable tracing to be utilized and permit Canada to more efficiently assist international and domestic investigations, without imposing undue constraints on firearms owners and businesses.
This amendment defers the coming-into-force date of the Regulations by another 18 months from June 1, 2017, to December 1, 2018.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this amendment, since there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this amendment, since there are no costs to small businesses.
In July 2015, the coming into force of the Regulations was deferred to June 1, 2017, to provide more time for additional consultations on amendments to the Regulations (e.g. to develop a regime for marking firearms that would be beneficial for law enforcement crime gun investigations, without being too onerous for firearms businesses). Consultations have taken place with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Boarder Services Agency (CBSA), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and have also begun through the recently re-established Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee.
The consultations with the RCMP, the CBSA and GAC led to the conclusion that bringing the Regulations into force without addressing the record-keeping issues associated with the aforementioned destruction of the long-gun registry would not help to facilitate the effective tracing of non-restricted crime guns. Implemented as currently drafted, the intended benefits to public safety of these Regulations could not be derived.
Some firearms advocates have consistently discouraged the coming into force of the Regulations because they perceive them to be both unnecessary and costly. Law enforcement representatives support the coming into force of the Regulations, given the value of markings for firearms tracing and criminal investigations, and in turn the associated benefits to public safety and national security.
With the deferral of the coming into force of the Regulations, the Government of Canada will have additional time to develop amendments to the Regulations that would be beneficial to domestic and international law enforcement, and manageable for firearms businesses.
Given that this amendment only modifies the coming-into-force date of the Regulations, there are no costs associated with this change.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The Regulations will come into force on December 1, 2018.
The amendment defers the coming-into-force date of regulatory requirements that have not yet been implemented. Accordingly, no enforcement issues have been identified.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Firearms Program will inform firearms businesses and law enforcement stakeholders of the deferral through the RCMP’s website.
Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Directorate
Public Safety Canada
269 Laurier Avenue West