Bill C-21 prohibits airguns

Speaking From Prince George, BC NFA President Sheldon Clare stated: “Bill C-21 is about ending your ability to collect, enjoy, and make use of your firearms.  If you doubt this, consider the government’s direct attack on items that were not even previously considered firearms. The Liberal government’s proposed law Bill C-21would make anyone who owns a BB, pellet, or other airgun, or participates in Paintball or Airsoft a criminal in possession of prohibited devices.  There is nothing good in Bill C-21”

Here is the NFA summary of the key points of the legislation: Guide to Bill C-21

Clare advised affected persons to:

1.Tell your friends and family about what is going on.  Use the NFA summary for reference.

2.Contact your member of parliament, your provincial MLA/MPP, and your local city councillor and mayor. Tell them that you are opposed to federal Bill C-21 in its entirety.  Bill C-21 will have an effect on all three of those levels of government.

a)Make an appointment to speak to these elected officials in person.

b)Call and write letters and emails to all levels of government to oppose this unjust bill.

3.Join and support Canada’s National Firearms Association at NFA.ca – We stand with you in this fight.

4.Work to ensure that the Liberal Party of Canada loses the next election.

5.Organize your friends and family and encourage them to do the same.

Liberal proposed changes to the Criminal Code affecting airguns from Bill C-21:

1 (1) The definition replica firearm in subsection 84(1) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following:

replica firearm means any device that is designed or intended to exactly resemble, or to resemble with near precision, a firearm that is designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second and at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules, and that itself is not a firearm, but does not include any such device that is designed or intended to exactly resemble, or to resemble with near precision, an antique firearm;

(2) Section 84 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (3.1):

Certain firearms deemed to be prohibited devices

(3.2) For the purposes of sections 99 to 101, 103 to 107 and 117.03, a firearm is deemed to be a prohibited device if

(a) it is proved that the firearm is not designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second or at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules; and

(b) the firearm is designed or intended to exactly resemble, or to resemble with near precision, a firearm, other than an antique firearm, that is designed or adapted to discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 m per second and at a muzzle energy exceeding 5.7 Joules.

(The complete text of Bill C-21 may be read HERE.)

Clare concluded, “If you thought that gun control didn’t affect you, you were mistaken.  Gun control has never been about public safety – it has always been about civil disarmament and destruction of culture.  Help us to help you, join the National Firearms Association today.”

Canada’s National Firearms Association is this country’s largest and most effective advocacy organization representing the interests of firearms owners and users. Canada’s National Firearms Association is the largest Canadian organization fighting for the rights of Canadian firearms users.  NFA is a registered UN NGO with consultative status to ECOSOC.

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For more information contact:
Blair Hagen, Executive VP Communications, 604-753-8682 Blair@nfa.ca
Sheldon Clare, President, 250-981-1841 Sheldon@nfa.ca
Canada’s NFA toll-free number – 1-877-818-0393
NFA Website: www.nfa.ca

THE NFA’S GUIDE TO BILL C-21

 

Bill C-21 was introduced in the House of Commons on February 16, 2021.  The Bill is essentially a series of amendments to existing laws, most importantly the Criminal code and the Firearms Act, and, to a much lesser extent, other federal legislation.

Here is an overview:

Harsher maximum sentences for certain firearms related offences:

The maximum sentence for the offences listed hereafter (when prosecuted by indictment) is increased from 10 years to 14 years:

  • Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition in an unauthorized location (s. 95 CC)
  • Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence (s. 96 CC)
  • Weapons trafficking (s. 99 CC)
  • Possession for purpose of weapons trafficking (s. 100 CC)
  • Importing or exporting knowing it is unauthorized (s. 103 CC)

Creation of new criminal offence: Alteration of magazine capacity

Possession of a magazine exceeding the prescribed maximum capacity was already illegal.  A person who modifies a magazine now commits two separate offences instead of one.

Some airguns become “prohibited devices” for transfer and other specific purposes

Air guns that are currently exempt from licensing and registration requirements, because they do not meet muzzle energy or velocity thresholds (e.g.CO2 powered pistols) will be reclassified as prohibited devices for transfer purposes, if they are identical to or closely resemble modern firearms that are subject to licensing. Current owners will apparently be allowed to keep them, but they will not be allowed to transfer them to third parties.  The loss (or finding) of such an air gun will have to be reported, failing which the owner becomes liable to criminal prosecution.

Emergency Prohibition Orders

The bill allows any person to make an ex parte (i.e., without prior notification to the person concerned) application to a provincial court judge to obtain a temporary firearms prohibition order, valid for 30 days.  In essence, this change allows a person with safety concerns to bypass the police and go straight to court.  Upon service of the order by a police officer, firearms will be seized, pending the outcome of a hearing for a longer-term prohibition order.  There is huge potential for malicious use of these provisions, especially in the context of domestic and other disputes.  This will also be an additional burden on an already backlogged court system.

Firearms that were prohibited pursuant to the May 1, 2020 Order in Council.

Although the Government says their so-called  “buy-back” is still in the plans, the bill does not address the so-called “buy-back”, or the indemnities to be paid.

The bill purports to repeal the provisions of the Firearms Act that provide for grandfathering with limited usage (i.e., paragraphs 12(8) and (9)).  Instead, it provides for “storage” only grandfathering.  In other words, existing owners will be given the option to keep their prohibited firearms, solely as collection items, and without possibility of use, sale, transfer, gift, or acquiring other firearms of the same class.  There will also be ongoing compliance requirements.

Other firearms that may in the future be re-classified as prohibited by way of regulations will be subject to the same rules.  This is the evergreen clause that the Liberals have been alluding to.

Authorizations to Carry Handguns for the protection of life

The authority to issue ATCs for the protection of life is being taken away from provincial Chief Firearms Officers and granted to the Commissioner of Firearms (the RCMP).  This is likely in response that certain provinces such as Alberta, who have recently appointed a gun owner friendly CFO, might be tempted to issue those ATCs.  At last count, there was only one such ATC issued in all of Canada, for the protection of life.
Chief Firearms Officers retain jurisdiction to issue ATCs in connection with professional purposes (e.g. trappers, security guards, prospectors)

Importing of Ammunition

A person (other than a non-resident) entering Canada with ammunition will be required to exhibit a valid firearms licence.

Municipal prohibitions on storage of handguns

The Bill recognizes that municipalities may enact by-laws that prohibit the storage of handguns.  However, it does not grant them the power to do so.  Municipalities are creatures of the provinces.  That power will necessarily come from the provincial legislation that they are subject to.

Should municipalities enact such by-laws and to the extent that those municipalities notify the Federal Public Safety Minister, licensed gun owners will be required to comply.  There will be a 180-day phase-in period.  After that, for affected gun owners, storage of handguns will only be allowed at authorized central storage facilities.  Transportation of handguns to and from a location within one of those municipalities will not be authorized.  Ranges located within a municipality that has enacted such a by-law will likely be forced to offer centralized storage services in order to remain in operation.

Collectors will be likely affected, as they will no longer be able to store their collection of handguns at their place of residence, should the municipality they live in pass such a by-law.

The apparent rationale for this new scheme is that the Government considers that handguns are at too high a risk to be stolen if they are stored at home.

Suspension of firearms licenses

Chief Firearms Officers will be granted the power to suspend firearms licenses.  A suspension can be for such period of time as the CFO determines.  While a license is suspended, usage and acquisition of firearms, ammunition is prohibited.  The targeted licensee will not be required to surrender or dispose of their firearms, unless the license is subsequently revoked.

The decision to suspend a license does not appear to be challengeable under s. 74 of the Firearms Act.

Surrender of firearms while license revocation/non-renewal is being challenged.

Individuals who opt to challenge a non-renewal/revocation of their firearms license under s. 74 of the Firearms Act will be forced to surrender all of their firearms to police while the challenge is pending.

Firearms Advertising

No firearms advertising may depict, counsel or promote violence against persons.  This prohibition might encompass any advertising promoting self-defence and, potentially, some tactical sports.

Enlarged powers to regulate handgun storage

The Government is granting itself new powers to enact storage regulations that are specific to handguns.  Based upon earlier statements and Minister mandate letters, it is expected that safes or vaults will become mandatory.  That power will also apply to the required specifications for central storage facilities.

 

Bill C-21 

CHALLENGING RECLASSIFICATION OF FIREARMS UNDER S. 74 OF THE FIREARMS ACT

CONTEXT

1. On May 1, 2020, the Government of Canada enacted an Order in Council SOR/ 2020-96 (the “OIC”) purporting to reclassify eleven categories of firearms as prohibited.
However, all of the categories are open ended. The lists are not exhaustive. A link to the OIC is provided below:

http://canadagazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2020/2020-05-01-x3/html/sor-dors96-eng.html

2. Further to the enactment of the OIC, the RCMP has reclassified thousands of additional models of firearms in the Firearms Reference Table (FRT), under the guise that they fall within one of the eleven categories mentioned in the OIC, although they are not specifically listed in the OIC.

3. Commencing mid-July 2020, the RCMP has been sending out notifications to firearm owners, whose firearms were previously classified as restricted firearms and who are affected by the change of classification. These notices are unusual: they purport to be notifications of the change of classification and of the resulting cancellation of the registration certificate. These notices do not use the word “revocation” but rather refer to a “cancellation” or “annulment”. Further, these notices do not contain the mandatory notification to the affected party of the right to file a reference under s. 74 of the Firearms Act, to challenge the decision. This appears to have been done deliberately by the RCMP in order to avoid the filing of a flurry of references by the affected owners. Irrespective of the language used by the RCMP in
the notice, the NFA is of the opinion that these notices have the same effect as notices revoking a registration certificate and as such, they can arguably be challenged through a reference under s. 74 of the Firearms Act.

CONSIDERATIONS

1. Keep in mind that an NFA supported challenge (Parker et al. v. Canada / T-569-20) of the OIC has already been filed in the Federal Court of Canada, and the NFA has also filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene in such court challenge. Should that challenge be fully successful, it will arguably address and reverse all of the re-classifications made pursuant to the OIC.

2. However, and although the NFA is confident that the Parker et al. court challenge will succeed, lack of success cannot be summarily ruled out. In that perspective, we believe that there are circumstances in which it may be advantageous for owners whose firearms have been re-classified from restricted to prohibited status to file a reference under s. 74 of the Firearms Act.

WHICH RE-CLASSIFICATIONS WARRANT A S. 74 REFERENCE

1. You have the right to file a reference under s. 74 of the Firearms Act in respect of any decision of the Registrar of Firearms (RCMP) purporting to reclassify a firearm from restricted to prohibited status, as it amounts to revocation of an existing registration certificate. However, we see little value in filing such References in instances where the re-classified firearm is one which is expressly listed in the OIC (See link above, to determine whether your firearm is listed). First, in order to succeed on such a reference, the potential applicant would need to demonstrate that the OIC is invalid. Since those questions are already addressed in the Parker et al. v. Canada court challenge before the Federal Court, there is a strong likelihood that a provincial court would stay a reference raising the validity of the OIC, to await the outcome of the Parker et al. v. Canada case. Indeed, the outcome of the pending NFA supported Federal Court challenge (Parker et al. v. Canada) will be determinative of the validity of the OIC. We do not see value in filing individual references in those instances, since the underlying questions are already before a court of law.

2. If your firearm is not expressly listed in the OIC, but is nevertheless being re-classified from restricted to prohibited by the RCMP, there may be value to filing a Reference under s. 74 of the Firearms Act, challenging that decision. In most instances, the reference will be based upon the fact that your firearm does not constitute a “variant or modified version” of one of the nine (9) main semi-automatic firearm designs deemed to now be prohibited.

HOW TO FILE A REFERENCE UNDER S. 74 OF THE FIREARMS ACT

1. First, and most importantly, a s. 74 Reference must be filed within thirty (30) days of the date you received the notification of re-classification from the RCMP. If you are somehow precluded from filing within 30 days, for a valid reason (e.g. illness), you may apply to the Provincial Court for an extension of the time to file. The process for seeking an extension is the same as the process of filing a reference.

2. You may file through an attorney or by yourself.

3. The competent court is the provincial court of criminal jurisdiction of your province (e.g. the Ontario Court of Justice in Ontario, the Court of Quebec (Criminal Division) in Quebec, etc. You must file the Reference in the court district where you reside.

4. Some provinces use a prescribed form. Others do not. Call the court registrar / clerk to find out the local requirements.

5. In most provinces and territories, you may show up at the Registrar’s office, at the local Court House, and fill out a form. You will need to:
A) Designate the Registrar of Firearms (RCMP) as the Respondent;
B) Stipulate that you are challenging a decision of the Registrar revoking one or several registration certificates;
C) Append a copy of the Notice (or notices, if there are more than one)
D) Mention that the grounds for challenge is that your firearm(s) are not captured by the Order in Council SOR/2020-96;
E) Indicate a return date, which will be a pro-forma date;
F) Ask the Registrar whether the Court will notify the Registrar of Firearms of the Reference, or whether you need to do it. If so, it is your responsibility
to do so.

6. The Reference will eventually be set down for an actual hearing. We highly recommend that you retain competent counsel to represent you. You may also be able to ask the Court to join your Reference with other similar References for a joint hearing. This may be advantageous if the other References raise a similar issue (e.g. same category of firearms in the OIC) and another party to a Reference is represented by counsel.

7. Remember that incompetent advocacy may do more harm than good, since your case may set a precedent that will influence decisions in other cases.

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