Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act: SOR/2022-91

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 10

SOR/2022-91 May 2, 2022


P.C. 2022-447 April 29, 2022

Whereas, pursuant to section 118 of the Firearms Act footnote a, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness had a copy of the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act, substantially in the annexed form, laid before each House of Parliament on June 21, 2021, which date is at least 30 sitting days before the date of this Order;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to paragraphs 117(a), (c.1)footnote b, (m)footnote c, (n.1)footnote d and (w) of the Firearms Act footnote a, makes the annexed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act.

Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act

Firearms Licences Regulations

1 The heading before section 6 and sections 6 to 8.2 of the Firearms Licences Regulations footnote 1 are replaced by the following:

Renewal of Possession and Acquisition Licences for Firearms

8.2 Sections 8.3 to 8.5 apply in respect of the renewal of a licence to possess and acquire firearms issued to an individual.

2 Section 8.5 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

8.5 Sections 3 to 5 do not apply to the renewal of a licence.

3 Paragraph 14(1)(d) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

4 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 24:


24.1 (1) The following information is prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 58.1(1)(a) of the Act:

(2) The prescribed period for the purposes of paragraph 58.1(1)(a) of the Act is a period of 20 years that begins on the day on which the record is created.

(3) The prescribed official for the purposes of paragraph 58.1(1)(c) and subsection 58.1(2) of the Act is the Registrar.

(4) For the purposes of subsection 58.1(2) of the Act, the records transmitted by the business may be destroyed at the end of the 20-year period that begins on the day on which they were received from that business.

Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations

5 The definition non-restricted firearm in section 1 of the Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations footnote 2 is repealed.

6 (1) Subsection 3(1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

3 (1) For the purposes of paragraph 23.2(1)(f) of the Act, a transferor must meet the condition that they provide the Registrar with the names and the licence numbers of the transferor and the transferee.

(2) The portion of subsection 3(3) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

(3) For the purposes of paragraph 23.2(1)(f) of the Act, the transferee must meet the following conditions:

(3) The portion of paragraph 3(3)(a) of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:

(4) The portion of paragraph 3(3)(b) of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:

7 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 4:

Information Relating to Transferee’s Licence

5 The prescribed information for the purpose of subsection 23(2) of the Act is the information set out on the front of the transferee’s licence, including the photograph.

6 For the purposes of the issuance of a reference number under section 23 of the Act, the transferor must

Period of Validity of Reference Number

7 The prescribed period for the purposes of subsection 23(4) of the Act is 90 days.

8 (1) The portion of section 10 of the English version of the Regulations before subparagraph (a)(i) is replaced by the following:

10 For the purposes of subsection 26(1) of the Act, a transferor must comply with the following conditions to transfer a firearm to Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province, to a police force or to a municipality:

(2) Paragraph 10(b) of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

9 Section 11 of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

11 For the purposes of subsection 26(2) of the Act, to transfer a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition or prohibited ammunition to Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province, to a police force or to a municipality, a transferor must obtain a receipt from the person accepting the transfer on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province or on behalf of a police force or a municipality that identifies the date of the transfer and describing the goods transferred.

10 Section 12 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

12 For the purposes of section 32 of the Act, before transferring a firearm by mail, a transferor must obtain all copies of registration certificates and authorizations that the Act requires for the transfer to occur.

Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms)

11 Paragraph 2(d) of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) footnote 3 is replaced by the following:

12 (1) The portion of section 5 of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

5 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted such that a statement made by an Aboriginal applicant or by another Aboriginal person in accordance with any of those sections may be made

(2) Paragraph 5(a) of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

13 The portion of section 6 of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

6 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted such that an application made by an individual who wishes to be subject to these Regulations must be accompanied by the following information:

14 Section 7 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

7 Sections 3 and 9 of the Firearms Licences Regulations are adapted by adding the requirement that, if a chief firearms officer considers refusing to issue a licence to an Aboriginal applicant, the applicant must be given an opportunity to submit to the chief firearms officer for consideration recommendations from an elder or leader of the applicant’s Aboriginal community regarding the importance to the applicant of engaging in traditional hunting practices.

15 The heading before section 18 and sections 18 and 19 of the Regulations are repealed.

Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms)

16 The Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms) footnote 4 are repealed.

Transitional Provision

17 The Firearms Licences Regulations, as they read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations, continue to apply until October 1, 2022, in respect of a business referred to in paragraph 58.1(1)(c) of the Firearms Act that ceases to be a business on or after the day on which these Regulations come into force.

Coming into Force

18 These Regulations come into force on the day on which section 7 of An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, chapter 9 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019, comes into force, but if they are registered after that day, they come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


Currently, businesses and individuals who transfer (i.e., sell, barter, or give) non-restricted firearms may voluntarily verify that the transferee’s (e.g. buyer’s or recipient’s) firearms licence is still valid, though it is not a requirement. As non-restricted firearms represent the vast majority of sales (estimated at 90% of all sales), this presents a risk that firearms are being transferred to individuals who are not eligible to possess them.

There is no requirement for businesses to keep records on all transactions related to non-restricted firearms as a condition of their business licence, despite the fact that businesses must do so for transfers of restricted and prohibited firearms. These records can help law enforcement trace firearms if they become crime guns (firearms involved in illegal activity). As a result, it is very difficult to successfully trace a non-restricted firearm that becomes a crime gun, unless it can be found in one of the law enforcement databases, e.g. the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).

An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (formerly Bill C-71), which received royal assent on June 21, 2019, made a number of amendments to the Firearms Act, such as re-introducing the requirements to verify a transferee’s licence prior to the transfer of non-restricted firearms and on maintaining records on the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms by businesses as a condition of the firearms business licence. In order for these measures to come into force, regulatory amendments are needed to operationalize the changes.


The Firearms Act provides that an individual must hold a firearms licence to acquire and possess a firearm, and that a business must hold a firearms business licence in order to carry on a business related to firearms or ammunition. Individuals must have a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) to own a non-restricted firearm, or a Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL) to own restricted or grandfathered prohibited firearms. Businesses may have different authorizations added to their licences depending on their business activities (e.g., for sales, repair, shipping, display in a museum).

The purpose of the firearms licence is to ensure that individuals undergo a background check and take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (if applicable). Once a person holds a firearms licence, they must undergo Continuous Eligibility Screening which ensures that police-reported incidents of high-risk behaviour are brought to the attention of the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) of jurisdiction for investigation and action. In order to transfer a non-restricted firearm, the Act currently requires that the transferee (“the buyer”) hold a PAL; and that the transferor (“the vendor”) have no reason to believe that the buyer is not authorized to acquire and possess the firearm.

With respect to record-keeping, the Act already requires that businesses maintain inventory and transaction records of restricted and prohibited firearms as a condition of their business licence. However, the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms) prohibit anyone from requiring that businesses maintain such records on non-restricted firearms, as a condition of licence. This Regulation was first introduced in June 2012, following the end of the Long-gun Registry.

These two issues are described in further detail in the next sections. An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to Firearms provides for mandatory verification of a buyer’s firearms licence prior to transfer of a non-restricted firearm, and the requirement for businesses to keep records on inventory and transfers of non-restricted firearms. These Bill C-71 provisions have been brought into force by Order in Council.

Licence verification

The Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA) in 2012, which repealed the registration of non-restricted firearms, eliminated a mandatory touch point with the Registrar upon transfer of a non-restricted firearm. The Registrar, who is appointed under the Public Service Employment Act to work for the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP), is responsible for issuing, refusing, and revoking registration certificates for restricted and prohibited firearms and for establishing and maintaining the national Canadian Firearms Registry, which includes these records as well as records on licences and authorizations issued by CFOs. The CFO is responsible for issuing firearms licences, authorizations to transport, and authorizations to carry, among other functions, within their jurisdiction. Every province and territory is covered by a CFO.

Prior to the ELRA, the Registrar verified that a firearms licence continued to be valid (e.g., that an individual was not attempting to use a fraudulent licence) before issuing a Registration Certificate for non-restricted firearms. Since 2012, vendors could transfer non-restricted firearms to buyers without verifying the validity of the licence with the Registrar, though they could do so voluntarily. The Registrar is prohibited from keeping any record of such a request. However, as this is voluntary and represents extra effort, Public Safety Canada officials consider it reasonable to conclude that voluntary requests are likely rare. While no data are available on the sales of non-restricted firearms today, in the year before the Long-gun Registry ended (2012), approximately 7.1 million (90%) of the total 7.9 million firearms registered in Canada were non-restricted. Based on these 2012 statistics, Public Safety Canada officials are of the view that for the overwhelming majority of firearms sales, the buyer’s licence is not being verified with the Registrar.

Keeping Canadians safe from gun crime continues to be an important Government priority. Individuals that may be using fraudulent or stolen firearms licences may represent a threat to public safety. The coming into force of section 5 of the former Bill C-71 will restore the requirement for licence verification prior to the transfer of a non-restricted firearm. The buyer will be required to provide the vendor with the information prescribed by regulation, and the vendor will request a reference number from the Registrar, which verifies the validity of the buyer’s licence. If the Registrar is satisfied that the buyer holds and is still eligible to hold a firearms licence allowing the acquisition and possession of a non-restricted firearm, the Registrar will issue a reference number to both the buyer and the vendor. The reference number will be valid for the period of time prescribed by regulations. If the Registrar is not satisfied, they may inform the vendor.

To prescribe the matters mentioned above (information; validity period of reference number; official; duration of record retention), the Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations are amended through this regulatory proposal. These Regulations specify the information that must be provided to the CFO upon transfer of a restricted or prohibited firearm to an individual or a business; and the information to be provided to the Registrar upon transfer to the federal government, a provincial government, a police force, or a municipality, and transfers by mail.

By creating a requirement for a vendor, whether an individual or a business, to verify the licence of a buyer with the Registrar, and for the Registrar to confirm that the licence is valid, the amendments ensure that licences are being checked in all instances, and individuals presenting stolen or fraudulent licences will no longer be able to acquire non-restricted firearms.

Business record-keeping

The legislative requirement that businesses keep records related to the purchase of firearms was repealed in 2005 because the Long-gun Registry made it obsolete when it was created in 1998. Non-restricted, restricted and prohibited firearms, along with the names and licence numbers of their owners, were registered in the Canadian Firearms Registry. In 2012, registration of non-restricted firearms was repealed. Further, the Government introduced the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms), prohibiting CFOs from obliging businesses to collect records on the possession or transfers of non-restricted firearms. This did not affect the ability of businesses to keep inventories for their own business purposes, and most businesses continued to keep records of transactions of non-restricted firearms as a matter of good business practice (e.g., to facilitate returns or exchanges, or for purposes of insurance or verifying the warranty).

A firearms business is a person that carries on a business which includes the manufacture, assembly, possession, purchase, sale, importation, exportation, display, repair, restoration, maintenance, storage, alteration, pawnbroking, transportation, shipping, distribution or delivery of firearms. Accurate records related to these activities are critical to tracing firearms. The Canadian National Firearms Tracing Centre (CNFTC) assists front-line law enforcement by providing an extensive firearms tracing service for Canadian and international law enforcement agencies to assist with firearms investigations. When a firearm is seized or recovered at a crime scene, police can engage the CNFTC to request a trace for the origin of the firearm to develop investigative leads that are used to link a suspect to the firearm. A successful trace is when the CNFTC locates the first owner for which a record exists. From 2018–2020, an average of only 18% of total non-restricted firearms traces were successful, compared to 51% of restricted or prohibited firearms. It is possible that the absence of inventory and transaction records on non-restricted firearms is one of the principal reasons for why the success rate is so low. Upon coming into force of the regulatory amendments and the associated Bill C-71 legislative amendments, there will be a condition on firearms business licences making it mandatory to keep the information prescribed by regulation for the prescribed period of time, on the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms. In addition, businesses will be required to send their records to the Registrar of Firearms when they cease to be a business. The Registrar of Firearms will be able to destroy the records at the time and in the circumstances that will be prescribed. Only the Registrar will access the former business records, they will not be linked in any way to the existing Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS) and judicial production orders will be required in all cases of law enforcement seeking access to information of former businesses.

To prescribe the matters discussed above (information to be recorded, prescribed official, retention periods), the Firearms Licences Regulations are amended through this regulatory proposal. These Regulations govern the issuance of licences to individuals, applications for licences, refusals and revocations and the issuance of licences to businesses.


The Government is committed to implementing its firearms policy commitments and to keeping communities safe. The Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (former Bill C-71) provides for due diligence practices of firearms licence verification upon transfer of a non-restricted firearm and of the keeping of records of such firearms by businesses. The implementation of these measures through the regulatory amendments is expected to reduce the illegal acquisition of such firearms and enhance the ability to trace non-restricted firearms that have become crime guns. It is also consistent with the Minister of Public Safety’s mandate commitment to “Continu[e] implementation of C-71 regulations for firearms licence verification and business record-keeping.”

The concrete objectives of these regulatory changes are two-fold. First, it is expected that the licence verification provisions will result in a small number of non-restricted transfers being rejected, in the event the buyer is determined to not hold a valid licence. While the number is expected to be small, each case of rejection may help prevent future misuse of that firearm. Second, it is expected that the business record-keeping provisions will improve firearm tracing success rates above the current average of 18% annually. This may in turn result in more firearms offence convictions, unearth straw purchasing operations, and return stolen firearms to their rightful owners.


The Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act amend three existing regulations and repeal one regulation.

Licence verification

The regulatory amendments concerning licence verification affect any individual or business involved in any transfer of non-restricted firearms (i.e., individual to individual, individual to business, business to individual, and business to business). The Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations are amended to require licence verification prior to any transfer of a non-restricted firearm, as follows:

Business record-keeping

The amendments affect firearms businesses authorized by their licence to engage in any business-related activities involving non-restricted firearms. The Firearms Licences Regulations are amended to describe the information which businesses are required to keep upon coming into force of these regulatory amendments and of the former Bill C-71 record-keeping provisions. The amendments also prescribe the retention period, and the official to whom records must be forwarded by businesses that decide to cease operations.

Regulatory development


Proposed regulatory changes were prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 26, 2021, for a 30-day consultation period, to provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Public Safety Canada officials conducted targeted engagement by proactively reaching out to firearms organizations such as the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA), the National Firearms Association (NFA), and the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR), to ensure that the views of business owners and firearms owners, who will be required to fulfill the regulatory requirements, were taken into consideration. Similarly, Public Safety Canada officials engaged stakeholder groups that advocate for gun control and on behalf of victims of gun violence, including PolyRemembers, the Coalition for Gun Control, Doctors for Protection Against Guns, women’s organizations such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and all of the recognized National Indigenous Organizations, such as the Assembly of First Nations, to notify them of the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.

Public Safety Canada received 78 comments from individuals and organizations regarding the regulations. The majority of the comments addressed the firearms legislative regime generally, rather than the C-71 changes specifically. Most comments considered the regulations to be excessive on the grounds that licence holders are generally responsible and subject to screening. Many were of the view that more attention and funds should be focused on the prevention of firearms crime, enforcement of legislation and border security. Three of the comments received welcomed increased firearms control with a view to eliminating or reducing firearms crime.

Beyond the general comments, respondents also provided feedback on the two specific regulatory initiatives — licence verification and business record-keeping — and these are discussed below.

Licence verification

There was some qualified support among self-declared firearms owners for licence verification, should it be an efficient, user-friendly and timely process that will not increase wait times and financially burden government or business. Respondents expressed a need for a mobile-friendly online portal, available 24/7, to ensure timely processing of licence verification for business and private transfers of non-restricted firearms. The Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) has confirmed that the online portal has been designed to support mobile access and use and is set to be launched as soon as the regulations come into force.

Concern was also expressed about the CFP keeping weekday hours only, which could lead to long wait times on calls and complications related to transfers at weekend gun shows. The commenters anticipated that licence verification will increase wait times. While some increase in demand for licence verification is expected through the call centre, it is anticipated that more than half of all verification transactions will be conducted through the web services portals, which will be accessible 24/7. As the use of the web services portal is only expected to increase, this will mitigate any significant portion of increase of requests submitted to the call centre outside of regular business hours. It is anticipated that the majority of businesses selling non-restricted firearms at weekend gun shows will be able to use their Business Web Services to conduct the reference request. The expectation is that individual-to-individual sales would be the most likely impacted by the vendor seeking a reference request outside normal business hours. These vendors continue to have the option to process the request through the Individual Web Services portal, which is mobile friendly and accessible 24/7. Alternatively, individuals still wishing to contact the client service line would need to wait to process their request until normal business hours Monday to Friday. Any overall increase in workload resulting from the proportion of licence verification requests that are submitted by telephone will be offset by the increase in resources of an additional 11 new client service agents at the call centre.

A number of respondents raised concerns with regard to the volume of personal information required to be provided by the buyer to the vendor, which could pose a risk for identity theft or fraud. Canadian firearms businesses operate under their own proprietary information management systems and are responsible for ensuring the safe and secure handling and storage of sensitive client information. Any personal information transmitted between a business and the Registrar is routed through the Business Web Services (BWS) system, which is encrypted. Information provided by an individual vendor on a buyer to the Registrar through the online portal for licence verification checks will also be encrypted. The provision of licence information from an individual buyer to an individual vendor online, where the buyer and vendor may never meet in person, may be subject to a slightly increased risk of identity fraud due to the requirement for the buyer to provide the vendor with another piece of government-issued identification. However, Public Safety Canada officials were only able to identify a single publicly reported case where an individual attempted to use a firearms licence that was reported as stolen to conduct an online firearms transaction. Consequently, no changes are recommended to the regulatory requirements, given the overriding importance of the need for vendors to positively identify buyers for all instances of firearms sales. As is the case in any private online transaction, individuals are responsible for taking appropriate precautions to ensure their information is transmitted and handled responsibly.

Several commenters indicated that the regulations will not impact the primary source of crime guns in Canada, since they will not capture firearms smuggled from the United States. Existing data on sources of crime guns varies year-to-year, but in 2020, 58% of traced firearms were domestically sourced. More importantly, 88% of traced non-restricted long guns — the firearms that are covered by this regulation — were domestically sourced. While there are numerous means to illegally obtain firearms domestically that will not be impacted by this measure, the licence verification requirement should reduce access to some domestically sourced crime guns.

Some respondents claimed that the licence verification regulations will not protect Indigenous women from gun violence, as Indigenous firearms owners do not have the same licensing requirements. The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) provide for accommodations in some situations (translation of licence application information into Indigenous language for non-English speakers and transcription support to complete licence application, etc.). However, Indigenous persons are still required to obtain a firearms licence to possess and use firearms just as non-Indigenous persons do. Therefore, the regulatory amendments apply equally to all firearms licence holders seeking to transfer a non-restricted firearm.

Some commenters indicated the anticipated three-minute wait time to obtain licence verification when calling the Registrar’s Client Service line is significantly underestimated. The estimate that was indicated in the Canada Gazette, Part I, is based on the level of effort required by a Client Services Agent to process a Licence Verification Reference Number request by telephone, provided the requestor has all the necessary information available. The estimate does not take into account any wait time should the requestor be placed in a call queue before reaching a Client Services Agent (given that the Client Service line is used for a variety of client inquiries and not exclusively for the licence verification process). To address these concerns, a sensitivity analysis has been added to the regulatory analysis.

One firearms control advocacy group recommended that the regulations explicitly specify that a vendor must provide full licence information of a potential buyer to the Registrar during licence verification, to ensure that any future Government could not dictate lesser information requirements in the future. Public Safety Canada agreed that this would increase clarity with respect to the transmission of information. Consequently, the Regulations have been updated as a result of this feedback to require the vendor to provide the buyer’s licence number and any other information requested by the Registrar in order to complete the licence verification process.

Business record-keeping

One respondent criticized the 20-year record retention period, considering it an excessive amount of time. However, 20 years is a standard retention period for firearms business records in numerous other jurisdictions, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. This retention period is also a requirement under the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials and the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. Canada is a signatory to both treaties, but has not yet ratified either, in part because Canada did not have business record-keeping requirements until this point.

Eleven respondents held that the new requirements for business record-keeping will amount to a “back-door” firearms registry. There are two significant differences between the old firearms registry and this business record-keeping proposal, however. Under the previous Long-gun Registry, records were held by the Registrar of Firearms, and no judicial authorization was required for law enforcement access. Under the regulations, businesses will hold the records, not government, meaning that access will not be direct. Second, law enforcement will need to obtain permission from a business to access records, which in many cases could involve obtaining an appropriate judicial authorization. Even after a business closes and transmits its records to the Registrar, the records will be kept in a separate archive unconnected to the Canadian Firearms Information System, and will be accessible (including to the RCMP itself) only via a production order or a statutory access request (e.g., via the Privacy Act).

Parliamentary review

Under the Firearms Act, the Government was required to table a draft version of the proposed amendments in both Houses of Parliament for up to 30 sitting days before finalization. Tabling occurred on June 21, 2021, and the 30-sitting-day period was completed on February 4, 2022. The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recommended no changes to the Regulations in its meeting on December 16, 2021. The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence did not indicate whether it intended to review the Regulations or not prior to the 30-day sitting window elapsing on February 4, 2022.

Coming-into-force date

The coming-into-force date is set as May 18, 2022. Public Safety Canada announced this date upon registration of the regulations in the first week of May, in order to provide approximately 14 days’ notice to licence holders to prepare. The RCMP will use this time to issue guidance to the roughly 4 500 firearms businesses with respect to their obligations respecting both regulations. Moreover, all of the approximately 2.2 million individual licence holders will receive information from the RCMP on their obligations regarding licence verification to help reinforce those requirements.

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 proposal and there do not appear to be any implications on Canada’s modern treaty obligations. The changes to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) are technical housekeeping amendments that serve to update these Regulations so that they no longer reference obsolete sections of the Firearms Licences Regulations that are being repealed through this proposal. There are no anticipated impacts on Indigenous firearms licence holders as a result of this change. Following the publication of the amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Public Safety Canada officials engaged national Indigenous organizations to notify them of the opportunity to comment on the changes. However, no submissions on the regulations were received.

Instrument choice

Firearms licence holders use non-restricted firearms legally for hunting, sport shooting or for collection purposes. However, licence verification on a voluntary basis leaves open the possibility that non-restricted firearms are being purchased by individuals who do not have a valid licence. As the Registrar is prohibited by law from recording voluntary verifications, there is no data on how many times a firearms licence is verified by the vendor. However, even if only a few firearms are sold to individuals who do not have a valid licence, this represents a risk to public safety that could have severe consequences (e.g., injury, spousal homicide, suicide or mass shooting). Parliament has decided that leaving licence verification to voluntary action will continue to undermine public safety, and these regulations are therefore necessary.

In the absence of legislation and regulations governing record-keeping, the businesses who do not keep records, or who do not collect the type of data specified in the amendments, could sell firearms that cannot be traced if the need arises. The regulatory amendments help to ensure that a standardized approach to data collection and record-keeping on non-restricted firearms is taken across Canada, which could enhance firearms tracing by law enforcement agencies.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

Public Safety Canada officials conducted a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the amendments and found that firearms businesses are expected to incur new administrative and compliance costs. Additionally, incremental costs for the Government of Canada are also expected to support implementation of the amendments.

The regulatory amendments are expected to result in an annualized cost of $3.1M ($2.5M of which represents costs to businesses), as they require (1) the compliance activity of vendors verifying a buyer’s firearms licence prior to transfer of non-restricted firearms (currently a voluntary practice); and (2) the administrative activity of businesses to build upon the existing record-keeping for their inventory of non-restricted firearms. The costs associated with the regulatory amendments include both administrative and compliance costs, as well as implementation costs for the federal government.

The analysis below presents both a baseline scenario (no regulatory amendments) and a scenario estimating the costs of the amendments. The incremental costs between the two scenarios can be considered the impacts of the amendments.

Licence verification costs

Baseline scenario (no regulatory changes): Businesses and individuals may, at their discretion, verify the firearms licence of a buyer with the Registrar prior to the transfer of a non-restricted firearm. Given that this is a voluntary practice and could be seen as burdensome, it is assumed that no individuals and only a small number of businesses do so on a regular basis. This analysis presumes that only 1% of transfers of non-restricted firearms seek licence verification upon the transaction. Each request must be submitted by telephone to the Canadian Firearms Program’s (CFP) Central Processing Site and requires no more than three minutes to provide the licence number and information of the buyer to obtain confirmation from the CFP.

Data on transfers of non-restricted firearms have not been available since 2012. From 2007–2012, the average number of transfers of non-restricted firearms per year was 620 303. As the number of licensees has increased by 17% since 2012, the number of non-restricted firearms that will need licence verifications is expected to be 725 755 per year. Based on these figures and the presumption that only 1% of transfers of non-restricted firearms seek licence verification, it is assumed that there are 7 258 licence verifications conducted annually. According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Market Survey, the average hourly wage of a Canadian firearms sales associate is $22.65.footnote 5 Therefore, three minutes of effort to conduct a licence verification will cost $1.13. Total costs to the 1 468 businesses verifying a buyer’s licence upon transfer of a non-restricted firearms is therefore 7 258 transactions/year X $1.13 cost/transaction = $8,202.

Costs for government are based on step 1 of a PM-01 salary of $54,878 for a staff member of the National Call Centre, CFP, RCMP, and a three-minute verification per request submitted by telephone. The total for 7 258 transactions/year X $1.75 cost/transaction is $12,702.

The total cost in the baseline scenario is therefore estimated at $20,904 per year.

Regulatory scenario: Upon coming into force of the regulatory amendments, there could be up to 725 755 licence verifications for the transfer of non-restricted firearms per year. The CFP has enhanced their online portal to allow for more efficient services to the public, which includes the development of a Business Web Services portal where businesses are able to verify licences in lieu of submitting a request by telephone. Whether businesses or individuals seek licence verification through the National Call Centre or online through the web portal, both processes are expected to take no more than three minutes each. As a result, the cost of licence verification is expected to be 725 755 transactions/year X $1.13 wage/transaction = $820,103 per year, using 2020 Consumer Price Index rates.

For government costs, using the data from the current breakdown method used to apply for and renew non-restricted firearms licences, it is expected that 55% of requests will be submitted using the web portal, and 45% by telephone. The RCMP will incur no transactional costs for online requests as the web queries will automatically link into the licence database to confirm or deny the validity. The IT system upgrades that were required to operationalize this change are not included in these estimates, as they are considered sunk costs. For requests processed through the call centre, the 326 590 annual requests (45% of 725 755), at a cost per verification of $1.75 per transaction (each transaction will take three minutes), will cost the RCMP $571,532 per year.

It is also anticipated that businesses will incur a one-time cost for systems training. Training is anticipated to take 15 minutes/sales associate, with an average of 21 sales associates per business. The cost of training per business is $119, with a total training cost estimated at $174,525 in the first year of implementation.

Therefore, the incremental costs (i.e., regulatory amendment scenario costs minus the baseline scenario costs) for mandatory licence verification to businesses and individuals is estimated at $811,901 per year plus a one-time cost of $174,525, while the incremental costs to the government will be $558,830 per year.

In terms of benefits, the licence verification scheme’s main impact should be on reducing the numbers of individuals that obtain a non-restricted firearm despite being ineligible to do so, either via a forged, revoked (but not surrendered), or stolen licence. Data on existing occurrence rates are not available. A secondary benefit is that the process of requiring consistent licence verification, combined with the record-keeping provisions, may allow the CFP to better identify the possibility that a small number of businesses may be willfully or unknowingly contributing to the illicit diversion of firearms. Even if the number is small, the consequences are potentially significant. For example, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) released in 2000, 1.2% of firearms retailers in the U.S. were responsible for 57% of traced crime guns. While comparable Canadian statistics are not available, it is expected that similar outcomes are likely in Canada.

Record-keeping costs

Baseline scenario (no changes to regulation): In Canada, there are currently 2 578 businesses, including retail firearms businesses, museums and gun smiths, that are licenced to sell or possess non-restricted firearms. Of that, 170 are museums, 940 are other types of businesses (e.g., gun smiths, importers/exporters), and 1 468 are retail firearm businesses. There are currently no record-keeping requirements in law for non-restricted firearms. While there is some indication that retail firearm businesses record and maintain inventory records on non-restricted firearms for business purposes such as processing returns, insurance, or warranty, for the purposes of this analysis, the current cost to business is estimated at $0 as no records are officially required.

Regulatory amendment scenario: All 2 578 businesses will be required to keep records for the inventory and transfer of all non-restricted firearms. As part of ongoing compliance with this process, businesses will be responsible for creating an inventory record for each non-restricted firearm, consisting of up to six distinct pieces of information. It is estimated that the time to record each non-restricted firearm will take five minutes. Using the average hourly wage (including a 25% cost for overhead) of $22.65 for a Canadian firearms sales associate (as described above), it will cost $1.88 to create one inventory record. Data on firearms inventories held by private businesses is not available. As such, for the purposes of this analysis, the anticipated number of licence verifications will be used as a proxy for the potential number of transfers of non-restricted firearms. Therefore, there will be 725 755 records to create or update each year, with an associated total annual cost to business estimated at $1,364,419.

It is also estimated that all 2 578 firearms businesses licenced to sell or possess non-restricted firearms will incur a one-time training cost for record-keeping for non-restricted firearms and costs for changes to business management processes. It is assumed that training will take 30 minutes/sales associate, and that the 1 468 retail firearms businesses have 21 employees/business and the 1 110 other businesses [170 museums, 940 other (e.g., gun smith)] would have 5 employees/business. It will cost retail firearms businesses $238 and other businesses $57 for training, per business. Total one-time training costs for all 2 578 businesses are estimated to be $411,891.

If it is assumed it will take 7.5 hours for each business owner to change their business management processes to align with the new record keeping requirement, costs will be 7.5 hours per business X $70 hourly wage X 2 578 businesses licenced to sell non-restricted firearms = $1,354,729. Total training costs and updates to business management processes will be estimated at $1,766,620.

Therefore, the total incremental costs for businesses to come into compliance and implement a record-keeping regime for non-restricted firearms will be an ongoing annual cost of $1,364,419 plus an upfront cost for training and development of business management processes of $1,766,620.

The anticipated benefits of the business record-keeping provisions are an increase in successful traces of non-restricted firearms, which will result in more successful criminal investigations involving non-restricted crime guns. The ability to trace not only expedites investigations on specific gun crimes and helps build a strong evidentiary case to obtain a conviction, it also assists in detecting the point at which the firearm became illicit to help reveal firearms trafficking and smuggling. The primary measurable benefit is expected to be an increased rate of successful traces for non-restricted firearms used in the commission of a crime or stolen. From 2018–2020, the success rates for restricted and prohibited firearms — for which ownership and firearm characteristics records are kept by the Registrar — was 51% on average. Over the same period, tracing success rates for non-restricted firearms — for which no records are kept — was 18% on average.

With respect to privacy considerations, personal information is collected by the CFP through an application for a firearms licence (whether a new application or renewal), which is recorded in the Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS). Through this process, applicants acknowledge that the information contained in the application is obtained under the authority of the Firearms Act and that it will be used to determine eligibility and to administer and enforce the firearms legislation. This information is protected by the Privacy Act.

As indicated above, buyers will be required to give the information on the front of their licence card to vendors to permit licence verification. However, the former Bill C-71 and the amendments do not require businesses to retain any information beyond the firearms licence number. Businesses may choose to retain other firearms licence information for their own purposes. If they do, the use and disclosure of that information will be governed by the applicable provincial or territorial privacy legislation governing businesses, or the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, where no such legislation exists.

Records that are transmitted by defunct firearms businesses to the Registrar (the prescribed official as noted above) could contain personal information (e.g., names and addresses of private citizens and commercial entities) that is exactly of the same nature that the CFP already holds for all of its licensees. This information is subject to exemption from disclosure as “third party commercial confidential information” under the Access to Information Act, and in some cases (e.g., records of transfers of non-restricted firearms to individuals), information that is protected under the Privacy Act. Only the Registrar will access the former business records to respond to judicial production orders and access to information requests.

Table 1: Monetized costsfootnote 6
Impacted stakeholder Description of cost 2021 2030 Total (present value) Annualized value
Government — RCMP Processing licence verifications $566,185 $566,185 $4,060,823 $578,170
Industry — Licenced to sell/possess non-restricted firearms Requesting licence verification $988,520 $813,994 $6,085,678 $866,464
Industry — Licenced to sell/possess non-restricted firearms Record keeping $3,131,436 $1,364,816 $11,677,786 $1,662,654
All stakeholders Total costs $4,686,140 $2,744,995 $21,824,287 $3,107,288

Sensitivity analysis for licence verification

Feedback received from stakeholders from the Canada Gazette, Part I, consultations noted a potential for an increase in time on hold for incoming calls to the Registrar’s Client Service line. A sensitivity analysis has been conducted to determine the expected volume of clients contacting the Registrar’s Client Service line. This takes into account the four types of firearms transfer: individual-to-individual, business-to-business, business-to-individual and individual-to-business. Based on existing information, the vast majority of firearms businesses already use the online web services portal for conducting transactions related to restricted and prohibited firearms as opposed to the Registrar’s Client Service line. It is anticipated that the majority of businesses will continue to take advantage of the web services portal to conduct a licence verification for non-restricted firearm transfers. As a result, the expected increase in calls to the Client Service line for licence verification requests is anticipated to be limited to a small number of businesses and primarily individual-to-individual sales, which represent 30% of all non-restricted firearm transfers. An increase of approximately 5–10 minutes in additional wait time for clients would result in a total cost impact for stakeholders of between $4,433,187–$8,822,375 in addition to the projected $21,824,287 total monetized costs. In considering this wait time increase scenario, while some additional financial impact could occur, the likelihood is determined to be low. Rather, it is anticipated that over time the use of the online client service portal will increase due to its ease of use (less than three minutes to obtain the reference number) and 24/7 access. Any potential initial increase in calls to the Registrar Client Service line is anticipated to decrease year-over-year following the coming into force of the regulations. The RCMP has also secured funding to hire 11 new client service agents to support the Registrar’s Client Service line. These additional resources will further mitigate any increase in calls received by the Client Service line.

Furthermore, even if the estimated increase in costs were realized, it is still considered a reasonable cost given the objectives of the regulations.

Small business lens

It is estimated that the amendments will impact 2 578 businesses, some of which are expected to be small businesses. While the exact number of these businesses that would be considered small is not known, it is likely that the proportion of small businesses within Canada for the industrial classification “All other sporting goods stores” (North American Industrial Classification code 451119) is a good indicator. This category contained 55.67% small businesses in 2018, which would imply that close to 1 435 of the impacted businesses described in the cost-benefit analysis above are likely to be considered small.

While small businesses are likely to face lower costs than the average business, due to lower overall sales volume and thus lower frequency of licence checking and record keeping, for the purpose of this analysis all of the assumptions from the cost-benefit analysis have been maintained. The result of this analysis can be seen in the following table.

When designing the amendments, an attempt was made to limit costs on all businesses, including small businesses, by aligning record-keeping requirements closely with current business practices for inventory needs. In addition, as mentioned above, an online system has been developed to expedite the licence confirmation process. Because the intended policy outcome of the amendments is to enhance public safety, no further flexibilities for small business were considered appropriate.

Table 2: Compliance costs
Activity Annualized value Present value
Licence checking $482,361 $3,387,903
Total compliance cost $482,361 $3,387,903
Table 3: Administrative costs
Activity Annualized value Present value
Record retention $925,601 $6,501,036
Total administrative cost $925,601 $6,501,036
Table 4: Total compliance and administrative costs
Totals Annualized value Present value
Total cost (all impacted small businesses) $1,407,962 $9,888,939
Cost per impacted small business $981 $6,890

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule applies since the amendments will result in an incremental increase in administrative burden on business, and the proposal is considered burden in under the rule. The increase in administrative burden stems from the requirement for businesses to familiarize themselves with the new record-keeping requirements as well as to complete, file, and retrieve as needed, records on the transfers (e.g., sales) of non-restricted firearms they undertake.

Using the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Regulatory Cost Calculator, it is estimated that the annualized average incremental increase in administrative burden imposed on firearms businesses licenced to sell non-restricted firearms will be $803,374 in 2012 dollars and discounted to 2012 using a 7% discount rate.

The amendments will repeal the Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms), which will not result in an increase or decrease in administrative burden (the repeal will only remove an existing prohibition on record-keeping). As such, Element B of the one-for-one rule applies since a regulatory title is repealed, and the proposal is considered a title out.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

Canada is a signatory to CIFTA (Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials), but has not ratified it. CIFTA requires that member states make illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms illegal; pass legislation requiring the marking of firearms for the purpose of identifying and tracing; and have an effective system of export, import, and international transit licences or authorizations for transfers of firearms and ammunition; among other requirements. Enhancing tracing ability through business record-keeping could be an additional step toward possible ratification of CIFTA by Canada.

While Canada has not formally adopted it, it recognizes the “International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons,” which is part of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. This instrument was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. It indicates that states commit to small arms and light weapons being properly marked, and that records be kept, and provides for a retention period of 20 years for firearms transfers and other records.

The minimum 20-year period for which businesses will retain their records of the possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms is aligned with similar regulations in the U.S., as well as legislation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France, which requires business records retention for not less than 20 years.

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+) analysis was conducted to support development of the former Bill C-71 legislative amendments and the accompanying regulatory amendments. The Firearms Act applies equally to all Canadians. However, the vast majority of firearms licence holders are men (the ratio of male to female licensees is approximately 8:1). As such, any regulatory burden that the amendments may impose on individuals is likely to predominantly impact men.

While a majority of Canada’s population is located in urban areas, firearms licence holders tend to be spread more evenly across urban and rural areas. Owners of registered restricted and prohibited firearms tend to be slightly more concentrated in urban rather than in rural areas, with the reverse for non-restricted firearms. As such, it is possible that the amendments (which impact non-restricted firearms) may impact Canadians living in rural areas more than those living in urban areas.

Licence verification could help to prevent some intimate-partner violence (IPV) involving a firearm and other violent crimes in instances where the Registrar will refuse to issue a reference number for the purchase of a firearm, in cases where an individual whose licence is no longer valid due to a history of violence or domestic violence or IPV retains possession of their invalid licence and attempts to purchase a non-restricted firearm. Although the overall incidence of firearm-related IPV is low, women are at a higher risk. IPV rates are the highest for women living in rural areas and higher for Indigenous women and women with disabilities — although information is limited on the use of firearms in these instances. In 2018, female victims accounted for 86% of police-reported intimate-partner violence incidents involving a firearm (510 female victims). To the extent that the amendments could help to prevent IPV, women, particularly Indigenous women and women with disabilities, may benefit from this proposal.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards


Enabling legislative changes (made through former Bill C-71) and the regulatory amendments on licence verification and business record-keeping will come into force at the same time on May 18, 2022.

Public Safety Canada, in conjunction with the RCMP, will communicate the coming into force of the Act and associated regulatory amendments to the public via the CFP website. Information will also be made available via telephone through the CFP Contact Centre. Furthermore, the RCMP will use communication products (e.g., proactive emails to licensees to raise awareness) to help firearms licence holders and businesses prepare for implementation. The CFP website will also provide guidance to all licensees (individuals and businesses) to support the transition. Contact information will be included in the communication materials, should individuals or businesses require additional support.

Compliance and enforcement

The CFP uses proactive communication to licence holders and businesses to promote compliance with the Firearms Act and its Regulations, as well as to promote the responsible use and ownership of firearms. Under the Firearms Act, businesses are subject to inspections used to monitor compliance with their business licence, which correspond to a business’s licence renewal (e.g., which will be on a three-year cycle). In instances of non-compliance, a CFO has the authority to revoke a business licence on reasonable grounds to believe that the licensee is ineligible to hold a licence. Similarly, during the course of a police investigation, businesses subject to a judicial authorization (e.g., search warrant) will have to provide their relevant records to law enforcement officers. Under these circumstances, there is potentially an opportunity to verify compliance with licence verification and record-keeping requirements.

Enforcement of the amendments is provided for under Criminal Code and the Firearms Act. For licence verification, the Criminal Code (section 99) provides that it is an offence for a business or individual to transfer a firearm to someone knowing the person does not have a valid licence. The penalty is a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.

Concerning the requirement to keep records as a condition of a business licence, the Firearms Act (section 110) makes it an offence for a person to contravene a condition of a licence without lawful excuse. The penalty is a maximum of two years of imprisonment, if it is an indictable offence, or a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to two years less a day, or both, if punishable on summary conviction. Contravention of a licence condition is also grounds for revocation of the licence.


Firearms Policy Division