What Canadian Gun Owners need to Know about Bill C-71
On Monday May 28, 2019, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-71 in third reading. All amendments recommended by the Senate Committee in 2nd reading were defeated. Therefore, the Bill does not need to be sent back to the House of Commons for reconsideration. Bill C-71 received royal assent on June 21, 2019, which was the last step required to turn it into law. However, only a very limited number of its provisions are currently in effect.
Bill C-71 amends multiple sections of the Firearms Act, Criminal Code as well as other acts and regulations dealing with firearms. Its provisions will be implemented in multiple installments. A first group of provisions has come into effect immediately upon royal assent, while others will come into effect as set forth in one or multiple Orders in Council (“OIC”). In the latter case, it is likely because the implementation of certain provisions depends upon either the prior enactment of Regulations, or the availability of administrative resources.
Each Group of provisions will be dealt with separately.
Group 1- Provisions with Immediate Effect (as of June 21, 2019)
Group 1 provisions are those that have come into effect immediately upon royal assent of Bill C-71 on June 21, 2019.
Summary of Key Group 1 Provisions
Long Gun Registry Data
Many of those provisions purport to preserve the remaining data of the defunct long gun registry, a back-up copy of which had been preserved pursuant to an order from the Federal Court. Ancillary provisions enable the Canadian Government to settle the underlying litigation, and to provide the Quebec portion of said data to the Government of Quebec. In order to accomplish the latter, Bill C-71 takes away the privacy rights of the individual owners over their personal data.
Grandfathering of Prohibited Firearms
An aspect of particular interest is the addition of Subsection 12(9) to the Firearms Act. This particular provision purports to grandfather rights of owners of prohibited “firearms of a prescribed class”. In the Bill C-71 Legislative Summary, the purpose of that provision is described as follows:
“Clause 3(1) of Bill C‑71 creates a general authority for the grandfathering of individuals by way of regulation (new section 12(9) of the Firearms Act).”
The power to deem certain firearms to be prohibited by way of regulations already existed pursuant to the Criminal Code since 1998, and it has been used extensively. The enactment of Sub-section 12(9) may be a prelude to an extensive use of that regulatory power, which would allow the Government to soothe the pain of existing owners by “grandfathering their existing rights”. There are rumors that such prohibitions are imminent. Other provisions of Bill C-71 allow owners of such firearm owners to obtain authorizations to transport (“ATT”) to take such firearms to gun clubs and ranges. `
Forfeiture of seized and surrendered firearms becomes the rule, whenever a prohibition order is pronounced. A court may make an exception in appropriate circumstances. This rule applies irrespective of whether the prohibition order is mandatory, discretionary, or merely preventive.
The following table summarizes those provisions of Bill C-71