An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences)

Sponsor

Bob Zimmer  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 2, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-346.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of certain firearms licences and to provide for the relinquishment of licences. It also requires individuals to update their licence application information every 10 years and provides for the suspension of licences in certain circumstances.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2017 / 2 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House to debate Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act, and to perhaps straighten out some of the misconceptions that have been put on record today by the third party and the parliamentary secretary.

The legislation was introduced by my Conservative colleague, the member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies and at this time I would like to thank my friend, now my seatmate, for his work in supporting Canada's firearms owners and for bringing common sense forward as a solution that I know many have long called for.

Far too often gun legislation and responsible firearms owners have been treated unfairly. I am not here today to relive Bill C-68 and it is not my intention to rehash old battles. I know there are many new members in the House who were not around to deal with the common-sense firearms act that was passed in the last Parliament. For the benefit of those following the debate, it was the Conservative government's legislation that enacted simple and safe firearms policies and streamlined the licensing system.

The legislation amended the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code to create a six-month grace period at the end of a five-year licence to stop people from immediately becoming criminalized for a paperwork delay. The legislation also streamlined the licensing system by eliminating the possession-only licence and converting all of the existing licences to possession and acquisition licences. The other important elements of the legislation were to make classroom participation in firearm safety training mandatory for first-time licence applicants and to strengthen provisions relating to orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where a person is convicted for an offence involving domestic violence. While the Liberals and the NDP voted against these common-sense measures, I can assure members of the House that constituents of theirs who are firearms owners openly celebrated the passage of the bill.

As a member of Parliament who represents countless firearms owners, I can say that I unequivocally support their right to own and use firearms. However, with this right comes great responsibility. I support their right to hunt wild game for either sustenance or as a traditional way of life. I support their right to take part in sport shooting. I recognize that firearms are a tool for farmers and those who live in rural Canada, and last of all, many Canadians are devout collectors of firearms and are passionate about their hobby.

It was the previous Conservative government that eliminated the ineffective and costly long gun registry, even with the help of a few NDP members.

Furthermore, former colleague Rick Norlock passed his private member's bill to designate a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day and it was the Conservative government that created the national hunting and angling advisory panel. For far too long, Canadian firearms owners who abide by the law and cross their t's and dot their i's have tried their best to follow the rules and regulations, even when it was abundantly clear they were not always designed in the most coherent fashion.

Bill C-346 builds on the Conservative caucus's long and proud history of defending the rights of Canadian firearms owners. The bill builds on the progress made to ensure common-sense legislation that allows Canadians to become licensed firearms owners in a structured, yet simple mannered process, without compromising the security of Canadians. While much has been done to correct many of the wrongs that the previous Chrétien government implemented, it is good to see that Bill C-346 is being debated today.

The goal of the bill is quite simple. It is aimed at preventing honest, law-abiding firearms owners from being unjustly charged and becoming criminals. Bill C-346 aims to ensure that no law-abiding firearms owner is criminalized for an administrative issue. As the law currently states, should firearms owners fail to have their paperwork finalized when renewing their licences, they can be criminalized. We do, however, take issue when law-abiding individuals can be unfairly criminalized through no fault of their own. Let me explain.

The Firearms Act, as it currently stands, fails to address the issue that paperwork delays do not always occur due to the fault of the firearms owner but also due to the fault of the government. Indeed, the Phoenix pay system has made it quite clear that the government does not always run as smoothly as possible.

If departmental staff delay the processing of a licence application or a renewal, there are no safeguards built into the existing legislation that protect the gun owner from being criminalized. This is wrong. That is why I am pleased to support the legislation, as it will address this problem. If passed, C-346 will amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry date of firearms licences, but includes the mandatory provision that the licence holder must update the relevant information every 10 years.

This is a positive step for licence holders, as they no longer have to worry every five years about the expiry of their licences. For those who think this would be too long of a period, let me just remind the House that our passports now have a 10-year life cycle. I think we can all agree that this change has been very widely celebrated as it has reduced the inconvenience of getting a new passport photo and filling out the paperwork every five years, let alone every year.

As well, Bill C-346 would not revoke the licences of gun owners who have not updated their information. Should a gun owner fail to update their information, the licence is subsequently suspended. Such a suspension can be cancelled as soon as the necessary required information has been provided to the proper authorities. It further states that no licence may be revoked simply because it is suspended due to the required information not being provided.

This is a crucial part of the legislation. It makes the process far easier to navigate for law-abiding firearms owners, as they would no longer have to go through the process for applying for a brand new licence, should they fail to get the required information in on time. Their licence would simply be suspended until said information is provided. We see no reason to continue to make the process unnecessarily onerous and criminalize individuals who have done nothing wrong.

This new legislation also includes a relinquishment section. Many firearms owners who no longer wish to have their licences, simply do not send in their information so that their licence is cancelled. If Bill C-346 is passed, this would not happen, as the licence would be classified as suspended.

Obviously the Liberals, at least the member for Ajax, never read the motion. The relinquishment section of the legislation allows an individual who no longer wishes to keep their firearms licence, to voluntarily surrender their licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences. This ensures that any individual wishing to let go of their firearms licence would be able to do so in a simple manner.

Another reason this proposed change should come into force is that the RCMP continuous eligibility system, which verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements every single day, has proven itself effective over the years. This system ensures that any offence that would immediately suspend or revoke a licence is provided to the appropriate law enforcement, and as the law enforcement will have the most up-to-date address for the individual who committed the offence, it would easily allow for the licence to be suspended or permanently revoked.

However, the safeguards built into the system say that if an individual does not update their information, they would not be allowed to purchase a firearm or ammunition from any supplier. This is a reasonable condition to place upon any firearms owner.

In closing, I believe that law-abiding duck hunters, deer hunters, sports shooters, among others, are responsible members of their communities, and when safety measures are followed, provide no threat to others. For far too long, firearms owners have not been treated with respect.

The member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, the former minister of public safety and the current member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, and our current chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, my friend from Red Deer—Lacombe, among others, have played an integral role in defending and promoting the rights of firearms owners, and I commend their efforts.

Also, I feel the efforts of our law enforcement officials should be invested in tackling the illegal gun market and those who commit heinous and violent acts of crime. Let us work together to ensure that the firearms regime is targeting those we need to target, those who have demonstrated they pose a threat to society. In particular, these efforts could be aimed at the safety of women and children in their homes.

I encourage all members to vote in favour of the legislation and to open a dialogue with their constituents who own firearms to hear how these measures are a step in the right direction.

Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2017 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-346.

First of all, I want to thank the bill's sponsor for his well intentioned work. I also want to thank the parliamentary secretary for his speech to explain the government's position.

Before I get into the substance of the bill, I would like to outline a few important principles, the first being the unfortunate reality in which we live. For a very long time, the governing party, the Conservative Party, wanted to politicize the debate surrounding the use and regulation of firearms in Canada. It even sent fundraising emails.

I find that disappointing, because it created an atmosphere that pitted Canadians against one another, depending on their perspective. Ours is a vast country, and the reality is very different from one region to the next, and from an urban area to a rural area. When the government should have been encouraging people to work together and have a healthy debate on this issue in order to develop effective and appropriate public policies, instead it tried to use the situation to its political advantage. We again find ourselves in an unfortunate situation. However, it is important to understand the context and proceed with a rigorous review of a bill such as this one.

I also want to talk about the importance of the work that police officers do, not politicians and their decisions about what is good for public safety. This is, after all, a public safety issue. The bill sponsor was absolutely right when he said that the vast majority of firearm owners are law-abiding citizens.

That being said, when we draft a bill, we have to consider those who are not law-abiding. These unfortunate exceptions can endanger public safety and the safety of all Canadians. That is where I am coming from on this bill, and that is the perspective that will inform my comments to the House and my recommendation to my caucus as the NDP public safety critic.

The first problem is, of course, lack of clarity. I think the parliamentary secretary did a good job of explaining which rights are lost and which are not when a licence is suspended.

Under the current system, the loss of the firearms may seem like a nuisance to a firearms owner. However, under the system being proposed by my colleague in his bill, a gun owner could have his firearms licence suspended for legitimate reasons, for example if he is no longer fit to carry firearms.

After all, as the parliamentary secretary said, many things can change in 10 years. Meanwhile, the individual continues to have firearms in his possession. In these circumstances, the changes may result in a threat to public safety. These are unfortunate exceptions that must be considered when developing public policies and before accepting or rejecting a bill.

The second point is as follows. The licences do not expire, and since a licence can easily be reinstated, we unfortunately cannot support failure to provide a consequence. In fact, the renewal process is extremely important and we believe that it is very reasonable.

Contrary to what seemed to be claimed in the opening address of this debate, legislative changes were made recently, which has simplified the process tremendously. There is even a six-month grace period after the expiry of a licence.

This grace period allows people to renew their licence, even if they run into problems with the mail, they are facing personal challenges, or they are late in renewing it for all sorts of administrative reasons. As we know, life moves fast. We need to ensure that law-abiding gun owners who are aware of the importance of obeying the law and who use their weapons responsibly for legitimate purposes are not punished. That is exactly why there is a grace period. It is important to point that out.

We are also very aware of the cost that may be associated with the various obligations. It costs $60 for a five-year licence for a non-restricted firearm. That seems like a reasonable amount to me because the licence is good for five years. If I remember correctly, and forgive me if I am wrong, people can also pay for their licences online. Given how the various levels of government are changing the way they use technology and the Internet, these systems will only improve in the coming years. The various government services will be changing and improving these systems, while ensuring that they work properly, or at least that is what we hope.

We are also talking about what happens when a licence has to be renewed after five years.

Obviously some of the important administrative pieces of information would change. We talk about addresses and marital status and things of that nature that are obviously, in some cases, more innocuous than others. However, we also have to recognize, as the sponsor of the bill also recognized, that when people initially get their licence, they go through the process of mental health evaluations, and the criminal record and background are checked.

While all those different checks happen initially, it is important to have the licence renewal process. For example, the information goes through CPIC and other authorities, who can decide whether it is appropriate for that individual to continue to own and properly use a licensed firearm.

In that context, it is obviously very important. We look at, for example, the issue of marital status, and when it leads to requiring a statement from the person's ex-spouse, that kind of link can be very important. When we think of domestic violence, we obviously would not want someone who had committed that kind of crime to continue to own and operate a firearm. It is important to emphasize that those cases are the exception, certainly a tragic exception, but an exception nonetheless. I do not want to repeat myself, but when we elaborate on these public policies and evaluate bills like the one proposed by my hon. colleague, we need to take those realities into consideration.

Once again, it is important and bears repeating: Given these criteria and the fact that it has been somewhat alleviated in the last few years, there are reasonable grace periods put in place. We feel that the current system is very respectful of all the pieces that my colleague mentioned. Certainly I believe in many of our ridings, and surprisingly even in suburban and urban ridings in some cases, there are many Canadians who own firearms and enjoy their different activities, whether hunting or other outdoor activities like sport shooting and such.

We obviously are mindful of that, but I believe that the current system is appropriate for ensuring public safety. It is reasonable. Unfortunately, I believe that what my colleague is proposing would go counter to that. It would create a more unreasonable situation when it comes to ensuring public safety. As far as we are concerned, it would create too large a vacuum when it comes to certain obligations that we ask of these gun owners.

With that, I thank my colleague once again for bringing this debate forward. Certainly we are always open to working on progressive ideas when it comes to respecting Canadians and the participation they might want when it comes to hunting and the other outdoor joys we have in Canada. However, unfortunately we believe that this bill does not go in a direction that is appropriate and that would ensure public safety.

In closing, I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for his very informative and relevant speech about striking a balance between public safety and respect for Canadian gun owners.

Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on this bill. I want to commend the member for bringing the idea forward in the form of this bill, Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).

As my colleagues know, our government is committed to implementing reasonable, effective measures, with respect to firearms, that promote public safety while respecting law-abiding firearm owners. Responsible firearm owners, including hunters, farmers, and sports shooters, rightly expect to be treated fairly and reasonably. My grandfather was a hunter. He greatly enjoyed the sport, and he was a responsible owner himself.

At the same time, they, like all Canadians, understand the importance of doing everything we can to combat gun crime and keep Canadians safe. This includes keeping firearms out of the hands of people who could be dangerous.

The private member's bill before us would make it easier for people who pose a danger to the public to acquire and possess guns. As such, it would clearly contradict our commitment to protect the safety of Canadians, and our government, therefore, cannot support it.

I would like to take a moment to look at the provisions in this bill to explain this concept further.

First, Bill C-346 proposes to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences. Under the bill, a firearms licence would never expire. It would essentially be valid for the life of anyone over the age of 18.

Licences for most sorts of things do not work this way, and for a very good reason. Most of us understand that circumstances change and that a person who may meet the criteria for obtaining a licence today might not necessarily meet them forever. Would any of us, for example, want to be on the road with someone who got a driver's licence 60 years ago and never had to renew it?

The idea behind the licensing provisions of the Firearms Act is to protect public safety by ensuring that applicants are appropriately screened and that firearms owners continue to meet the eligibility criteria. That cannot be done if licences are valid for life.

This brings me to the second provision. Currently, firearms owners update the information relevant to their licence eligibility every five years through the licence renewal process. This includes information about any new mental health conditions as well as the attestation of current or former conjugal partners that the person does not pose a threat.

These are important provisions. It is one of the reasons they are done every five years.

Under this bill, firearms owners would only update this information every 10 years. Again, a lot of things can change in a decade. There may well be people who could be trusted to safely own a firearm today but for whom that might not be the case in seven, eight, or nine years.

This bill does not even take its own 10-year timeline seriously. Under Bill C-346, firearms owners who do not update their information once a decade could have their licences suspended. However, the bill does not explain what suspension of a licence would even mean. Under existing law, a firearms licence is either valid or revoked. The concept of a suspended licence does not exist in the Firearms Act, nor is it defined in the Criminal Code.

Would people who have suspended licences be allowed to continue possessing firearms? Would they be allowed to purchase ammunition? Would they be allowed to buy, sell, or trade firearms? The bill does not say. There is no definition whatsoever.

The bill also does not specify whether a suspended licence could be confiscated. It seems, therefore, that it would be up to the individual whose licence is suspended to voluntarily relinquish it. If the individual did not, the physical licence, the plastic card, would continue to appear valid and could quite possibly continue to be used indefinitely, because it would, as per the first part of the bill, never expire.

I do not know what the nature of this ambiguity is. It is unfortunate that it is not clear, but it is an unacceptable oversight. In any event, it is public safety that would be at risk.

The information collected every five years under the current regime is critical in protecting the public. It is an invaluable tool for the chief firearms officers, or CFOs, who review that information. With it, CFOs can determine whether there are safety risks associated with allowing an individual continued lawful access to firearms. Any CFO would insist that such information be kept current, and I am sure the vast majority of Canadians, including firearms owners, perhaps especially firearms owners, would agree.

We are committed to taking reasonable measures to keep Canadians safe from gun violence while ensuring the fair treatment of law-abiding firearms owners.

Already we have stopped the previous government's practice of contradicting law enforcement experts on weapons classification. We reversed the ministerial directive that could have allowed gun manufacturers to determine the classification of their own products. We fulfilled our promise to establish a more representative Canadian firearms advisory committee, which includes police, farmers, sports shooters, public health advocates, representatives from conservation organizations, representation from weapons groups, and members of the legal committee.

Having had an opportunity to sit in on those meetings and work with those individuals, I think they do our country a great service. Indeed, we can be enormously proud of the contributions they are making in such a balanced way.

We are taking concrete action to keep Canadians safe, and we are doing so while respecting firearms owners. Unfortunately, the legislation runs contrary to the balanced and sensible approach this government has taken to public safety.

To recap, Bill C-346 proposes that people with a firearms licence should only have to update their eligibility information every 10 years. If they do not comply with that even dangerously lax requirement, their licence would be deemed suspended. I use that term in whatever definition it means, because the bill does not say what it would mean, and a person with a suspended licence could, in all likelihood, given the lack of definition in the bill, continue possessing a firearms licence regardless, and would be able to do so indefinitely, because under the provisions of the bill the licence would never expire.

Unfortunately, none of this makes any sense. It is bad from a public policy and safety perspective, and it would leave firearms owners and law enforcement attempting to operate in an unclear system, with no one quite sure how to enforce the rules or abide by them.

On that basis, although I know the hon. member's intent is good, the bill unfortunately is not, and I would therefore encourage members of the House to oppose it.

Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is a good sign that we have an audience on this Friday afternoon. It is not all bad. Members are across the way too, so that is good.

The comparison I am using is with a vehicle owner. Let us say someone's driver's licence expires. They may own a vehicle, but they certainly would not be allowed to operate it, and that vehicle is sitting in the driveway. Then, just because the person's licence has expired, the police do not come and take them away and treat them like criminals because they did not renew their licence.

We think the same latitude should be given to firearms owners here in Canada. They are the most law-abiding group that I have seen in Canada. They are very thorough in the way they store their firearms and they are very diligent about how they do things. Again, we do not want to see Grandpa Joe penalized for a small mistake that could be quickly rectified.

I would like to quote some people in the firearms industry. There are massive numbers of members in associations, and they support this bill.

Tony Bernardo, from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, said that my bill reflects the reality that every firearms licence in Canada is reviewed every day by the police. The RCMP's continuous eligibility process should equate to continuous entitlement to possess firearms.

He went on to say that no law-abiding firearms owner should be criminalized for an expired firearms licence.

That is really the crux of this whole thing. It is just a little fixing of an administrative issue. Turning that administrative issue into something that is criminal is not what was intended by the law. There are other ways to get it done without turning Grandpa Joe into an outlaw.

One of the questions I have heard is whether my bill will make obtaining firearms easier.

It seems that whenever we want a positive piece of firearms legislation, it is always taken to a further degree and perceived as now enabling people to buy firearms at every corner store. That is not the case. It would not not make it any easier at all. To legally purchase a firearm or ammunition in Canada, as most firearms owners know, people need to have a firearms licence. That would not change with my bill.

To obtain the firearms licence, people need to go through a process of training, learning about firearms and how to safely store them and so on. My son just took his course. He is 19. He did his RPAL about a month ago. He is getting his the right way and is just waiting for it to come in.

There is also a process of background checks that regularly update the status of an individual. If there is ever an issue with a person, if there are family issues or mental issues, that is collected, and that person would not be able to purchase or possess a firearm. That is a good feature of our firearms licensing program in Canada. It is among the most stringent in the world.

Another question is about what “suspend” means in the bill.

“Suspend” refers to the status of a licence when the information has not been updated within the allotted 10-year period. Using the example of Grandpa Joe, if my bill passes—and I sure hope it does—and Grandpa Joe's licence expires, it goes into suspended mode. That does not mean he becomes a criminal just by possessing that particular firearm in his home; what it means is that he would be suspended from purchasing firearms or ammunition. He could not buy new firearms or ammunition. That is what it suspends.

The suspension is temporary. When Grandpa Joe goes back in and says that he needs to update his address or whatever, the suspension would then be cancelled when the information is provided. A key point for all the firearms owners out there—and this a big issue with my bill, because I know there is a cautionary thought around the word “suspend” and what that means—is that a suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended. That is a key point. Once someone has gone through the licensing process and done the work and done the training, they certainly do not forget all they have learned just because the licence has expired. They still know how to safely use and store that firearm. A suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended.

For too long, firearms owners have been treated as shady outlaws over an administrative issue, as I said in my video, and there is a good graphic of the outlaw in the cowboy hat. I want to make sure that no law-abiding firearms owner can be criminalized just for having an expired firearms licence. It goes back to needing to have a good conversation about firearms.

What many people do not know about firearms owners in Canada is that there is a huge demographic that is growing of people who want to own, possess, and use firearms at a range or to go hunting. It is the under 30 demographic. Some of that generation have seen firearms for different uses. They maybe have seen their fathers, grandfathers, mothers, and grandmothers go hunting and they want to experience that themselves.

We are seeing growth in urban areas too. We are seeing dramatic growth in legitimate firearms use in Canada. In Canada we need to rest assured that these people are law-abiding owners. They are licensed and trained, and we should not be worried about that growth. It is a legitimate group that obeys the law and does it the right way. Bill C-346 honours that and makes our firearms laws in Canada that much stronger.

I would like to recognize a few individuals in our party across the country, members of caucus who have seconded my bill from Ontario, all the way across to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, who support this kind of legislation. It is positive for our firearms owners and it really supports them well.

I would challenge the Liberals and the NDP to consider this demographic seriously. There are Liberals who own firearms. I am co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus. We represent all parties in our group and we want to make sure that there are good laws that recognize our outdoor heritage in Canada. That is sports shooting, hunting, fishing, guiding, and outfitting. It is a group that we all represent, and I would hope and trust that the government across the way would support solid legislation like this to ensure that firearms owners are not going to be needlessly criminalized because of some administrative issue.

I am a firearms owner. I do not hunt as much as I would like to. I fish, but my children have all operated firearms safely. We have an event next week where members of Parliament from all parties get to experience what a firearm feels like and safely operate that firearm. One of my staff had never fired a firearm before, and she was concerned when we first went to the range, but by the end of the day there was a big smile on her face. She understood that this could be done safely. It is a lot of fun, and we have a great regime in Canada that sees that our firearms owners operate them safely and effectively.

Our party does not want to see the laws become regressive. We have seen some moves lately with UN markings and stuff. I am glad to see the minister from Saskatchewan pull back on some of what has been talked about in terms of UN markings and understanding this issue. This was due to the firearms groups in Canada that let us know that the laws need to be hospitable to firearms owners in Canada, not needlessly restrictive. We have a good regime already. We do not need to make it more restrictive. It is already very safe.

My desire in putting forward Bill C-346, which would remove firearms licences from expiring and also has a provision to relinquish one's licence, is meant to do just that and to make our firearms laws in Canada stronger and not regressive.

I want to say a special thanks to all firearms groups across Canada. We support them and support their good work in training. There are a lot of organizations that, while we are having fun on a weekend and mowing the lawn, they are out there training people how to safely operate firearms. They do this every weekend, 52 weeks a year, to make sure that firearms can be safely operated in this country. I thank those groups and say keep up the good work to all who are doing good work for the firearms community in Canada.

I look forward to hearing members' comments.

Firearms ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

moved that Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act on licences. I am going to go over some of the basics of it, and then I will talk about it more at length.

The aim of the bill is to ensure that no law-abiding firearms owner is criminalized for an administrative issue. The proposed changes reflect the success of the RCMP continuous eligibility system, which verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements every day. The bill also proposes to create an avenue for individuals to voluntarily relinquish their licences.

I will speak to some key points about what this legislation would do, and also speak to some myths out there with people who are not sure what the bill would or would not do.

The bill would amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences, with a mandatory provision that the licence holder update his or her relevant information every 10 years.

I have been talking with other parties in the House, and I am open to amendments, as long as they would not extremely affect my bill. I have been in conversations already about that, and I will discuss them more as they come to me.

An individual whose licence has not been updated will not be able to purchase a firearm or ammunition. If an individual fails to update his or her information, the licence will be suspended. The suspension is subsequently cancelled as soon as the holder provides the necessary basic information. No licence may be revoked simply because it is suspended.

The last provision of the bill, the relinquishment section, would allow an individual who no longer desires to possess a firearms licence to voluntarily relinquish the licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences.

I have done some videos on Facebook and Twitter, and I use the character of Grandpa Joe. The desire is that Grandpa Joe not become a criminal simply because his licence expires. Many firearms owners in Canada have gone through the process of getting their licence. They have done their due diligence. They have gone through the process. They are safe, law-abiding firearms owners, yet simply because their licence expires, they can be charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

It could happen today. I have heard some interesting stories about people whose licence has expired, and literally have their door bashed down seven days after the expiry date because they are considered in illegal possession of their firearms. This is a dramatic event that can happen just because a licence expires. I am trying to get to the bottom of this. Poor Grandpa Joe who forgets to renew his licence becomes a criminal. That is the way our system looks at Grandpa Joe.

I often use the analogy of a vehicle owner. Most members in the House own a vehicle. I own a few—

Firearms ActRoutine Proceedings

April 6th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).

Mr. Speaker, I especially want to thank the member for Foothills for being my first seconder on this bill.

The bill is an enactment that amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of certain firearms licences and to provide for the relinquishment of licences. It also requires individuals to update their licence application information every 10 years and provides for the suspension of licences in certain circumstances.

The essence of the bill is the premise that an expired licence should not make a law-abiding firearms owner a criminal.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)