A comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun laws in Canada: BILL C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) and regulatory amendments, to advance the national 'freeze' on handguns, are part of a comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun control in Canada.

Learn about proposed amendments relating to:

National "freeze" on handguns

A national freeze on the sale, purchase or transfer of handguns by individuals within Canada, and bringing newly-acquired handguns into Canada came into force by regulations on October 21, 2022.

Individuals can continue to possess and use their registered handguns and can sell or transfer their registered handguns to exempted individuals or businesses. Requests submitted by individuals before October 21, 2022 to transfer a handgun within Canada will continue to be processed.

Businesses:

Exemptions:

The national freeze on handguns came into force, via regulatory amendments to the Firearms Act, upon approval by the Governor General and registration on October 21, 2022.  The regulations have been in force since then.  Link to the Order in Council: https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=42706&lang=en

The text of the Regulations was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on November 9, 2022.

"Red flag" law, "yellow flag" law and expanded licence revocation

Protecting the safety and security of victims of intimate partner violence and gender-based violence is of paramount importance. Victims need to feel protected and fully supported when they ask for help.

"Red flag" law

The new "red flag" law would:

Individuals who are subject to an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) could be required to:

These emergency weapons prohibition orders would help to address situations where an individual poses a risk to themselves, their family, or to public safety, including perpetrators of intimate partner and gender-based violence, people at risk of suicide, and radicalized individuals.

Limitation on access orders would address situations where an individual subject to a prohibition order could have access to a third-party's weapon.

New applications for an emergency weapons prohibition order could be made, and the court could set a hearing for a longer-term prohibition order (up to 5 years) if there continues to be reasonable grounds to believe that the individual poses a public safety risk.

A program would be developed to help raise awareness and provide tools to victims and supporting organizations on how to use the "red flag" provisions and protections. It would support vulnerable and marginalized groups including women, Indigenous people and other racialized communities and people with mental health issues, to ensure that the "red flag" law is accessible to all, particularly those who may need it the most.

"Yellow flag" law

Introduce a new "yellow flag" law that would allow:

The licence holder would not be able to use, acquire or import new firearms during the temporary 30-day suspension period but would retain possession of their current firearm(s).

If an investigation determines that the individual continues to be eligible to hold a firearms licence, their use and acquisition privileges would be immediately reinstated.

Expanded licence revocation

Following the coming into force of the legislation, the extended licence revocation authority would help protect those in danger from firearms violence and would permit a Chief Firearms Officers (CFO) to revoke a firearms licence:

CFOs would not issue a firearms licence to anyone who at the time they apply is, or has previously been, subject to a protection order related to the safety of any person or an emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag).

In the case of licence revocations related to domestic violence and protection orders, limited exceptions would be available for individuals needing a firearm for sustenance hunting and trapping, or employment.

The Government intends to launch a consultation with Canadians on the proposed expanded licence revocation and "yellow flag" suspension regime prior to the coming into force of these proposals.

Who has authority to revoke a firearms licence in Canada?

The table outlines the circumstances under which a firearms licence could be revoked, when revocation can be appealed, what instruments are currently in force and that firearms must be surrendered in all revocation instances
Licence revoked by Instrument Reason Appeal Firearms surrender required? In force?
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Protection order (issued by the Court)Footnote * No Yes No
Domestic violence/criminal harassment incident Yes Yes No
Judge Court order Emergency weapons prohibition order (red flag) No Yes No
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Following investigation under "yellow flag" law Yes Yes No
Chief Firearms Officer Firearms Act Any reason as outlined under the Firearms Act Yes Yes Yes

Combat firearms smuggling and trafficking

To combat firearms trafficking and smuggling and increase law enforcement capacity to combat firearms violence, the Government is proposing amendments to:

Prohibit mid-velocity 'replica' airguns

The Government is proposing to prohibit airguns that:

These airguns could no longer be imported, exported, transferred or sold. However current owners could continue to possess and use their existing airguns.

Mid-velocity airguns that do not closely resemble a real firearm would be unaffected. The Government intends to work with stakeholders including law enforcement and industry, to ensure the practical implementation of this initiative.

Coming into Force chart for Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

Criminal Code

This is related to firearms provisions coming into force under the Criminal Code
Provision Coming into Force
Establish "red flag" firearms removal tool, including new anonymity protections Royal Assent
Increase maximum penalties for weapons smuggling/trafficking from 10 to 14 years Royal Assent  
Make it an offence to alter a cartridge magazine to exceed legal limits Royal Assent  
Add two firearms offences to the list of offences eligible for wiretapping Royal Assent  
Prohibit the import/export and transfer of mid-velocity replica airguns to individuals Royal Assent  
Authorize security personnel of certain federal entities (e.g. Bank of Canada, Royal Canadian Mint) to use prohibited firearms Royal Assent  
Repeal Governor in Council (GiC) ability to downgrade firearms classification (also in Firearms Act) Royal Assent  

Firearms Act

This is related to firearms provisions coming into force under the Firearms Act
Provision Coming into Force
Prevent individuals with an existing or prior restraining order from obtaining a licence, and require the revocation of a licence for individuals who are subject to a restraining order OiC
Require the revocation of a licence for individuals who have been involved in an act of domestic violence or stalking   OiC
Establish "yellow flag" licence suspension regime   OiC
Require firearm surrender pending legal challenge of licence revocation Royal Assent  
Disclose firearms licence information to stop trafficking, e.g. straw purchasing Royal Assent  
Require a firearms licence to import ammunition   OiC
Make it an offence to promote violence against a person in firearms marketing and sales Royal Assent  
Automatically expire registration certificates subsequent to a change in a firearm's classification Royal Assent  
Repeal Governor in Council (GiC) ability to downgrade firearms classification (also in Criminal Code) Royal Assent  
Centralize approval of Authorizations to Carry (ATC) handguns in the Commissioner of Firearms   OiC
Prohibit all handgun transfers to individuals Royal Assent  
Prohibit the issuance of registration certificates and Authorizations to Transport for handguns from any port of entry (with exceptions) Royal Assent  
Exempt individuals with an Authorizations to Carry and elite sports shooters from the handgun transfer/import prohibition Royal Assent  

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)

This is related to provisions coming into force under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act better align border enforcement and restrict firearms smuggling and trafficking
Provision Coming into Force
Strengthen the transborder Criminal Inadmissibility Framework Royal Assent

Nuclear Safety and Control Act

This is related to provisions coming into force under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to allow security officers to serve as peace officers
Provision Coming into Force
Grant limited peace officer status to security personnel at Canada's nuclear facilities and provide independent review of their actions OiC

Upcoming regulatory amendments for firearms (not part of Bill C-21)

This is related to upcoming regulatory amendments that are not part of Bill C-21
Provision Coming into Force
Update regulations on cartridge magazines OiC
Update firearms markings regulations   OiC
Strengthen secure storage regulations   OiC

Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act

Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act were tabled in the House of Commons and the Senate on May 30, 2022. You can request a copy of the regulations by contacting Information Services at the Library of Parliament.

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