Vol. 149, No. 16 — August 12, 2015
SI/2015-79 August 12, 2015
COMMON SENSE FIREARMS LICENSING ACT
Order Fixing September 2, 2015 as the Day on which Certain Provisions of the Act Come into Force
P.C. 2015-1171 July 31, 2015
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsection 38(1) of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, chapter 27 of the Statutes of Canada, 2015, fixes September 2, 2015 as the day on which subsections 4(4), (7) and (8) and section 37 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
This Order, pursuant to subsection 38(1) of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act (the Act), chapter 27 of the Statutes of Canada, 2015, fixes September 2, 2015, as the day on which subsections 4(4), (7) and (8) and section 37 of that Act come into force to eliminate the Possession Only Licence.
The purpose of this Order is to bring into force the provisions of the Act related to the elimination of the Possession Only Licence (POL) and its automatic replacement by the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
Under the Firearms Act, one must hold a valid firearms licence in order to lawfully possess or acquire firearms and buy ammunition. For adults, there are two types of licences: PALs and POLs. The firearms licence sets out the class of firearm for which it is valid (i.e. prohibited, restricted or non-restricted) and is valid for five years.
The POL does not allow for the acquisition of firearms. The POL was created as a grandfathering mechanism to provide those who lawfully possessed a firearm when the Firearms Act came into force in 1998 (and who did not intend to acquire additional firearms), an opportunity to obtain a licence without having to pay for and successfully complete the firearms safety training course and test. The POL is only available for renewal. Since 2001, new firearms applicants must apply for and obtain a PAL in order to legally possess firearms. As of December 2014, approximately 530 000 individuals hold a POL.
The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act repeals the section of the Firearms Act which contains the safety training and testing exemption applying to POL licences, therefore rendering POL renewals unavailable.
While the POL is no longer available for renewals, current holders of a POL will automatically be converted to a PAL. In essence, they will be provided acquisition privileges for the class of firearms they are currently authorized to possess without the requirement to pay for and successfully complete the firearms safety training course required of new PAL applicants.
These reforms will simplify and provide clarity to the licensing regime and reduce the administrative burden of law-abiding firearms owners while protecting the safety of all Canadians. This is in line with the Government’s plan for safe streets and communities, as well as maintaining a strong licensing system and controls over restricted and prohibited firearms.
POL renewal measure
Pursuant to the Act, grandfathering privileges to hold a POL are lost when it expires. Approximately 400 000 individuals hold an expired POL. To encourage these individuals to return to compliance, a related initiative, the POL renewal measure has been in effect since 2008. This initiative provides that firearms owners whose POL expired on or after January 1, 2004, may be eligible to apply for a new POL, if the individual meets the following criteria:
- previously held a POL which expired naturally (i.e. was not revoked or refused);
- is in continuous possession of at least one firearm they have lawfully owned when the Act came into force; and
- meet the public safety criteria to possess firearms pursuant to the Act.
The Government recently extended the POL renewal measure until May 2017, however with the coming into force of the provision of Bill C-42 related to the elimination of the POL, the POL renewal measure will no longer be available (as the POL will no longer exist). Individuals with expired POLs will be required to successfully complete the firearms safety training and apply for and obtain a valid PAL in order to lawfully possess firearms.
This provision was discussed during Parliament’s consideration of Bill C-42. Firearms enthusiasts have historically suggested that a two-licence system can lead to confusion regarding legal entitlements and obligations, particularly with respect to the capacity to acquire firearms. The coming into force of this provision will address that concern.
A news release from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will be issued and relevant information on those changes will be provided via the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Firearms Program.
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