Special Bulletin for Police No. 78
NOTICE: The information contained in this bulletin is considered accurate the date of publication. The information has not been updated to reflect any subsequent changes to the Firearms Act and related regulations.
- As a result of public consultations, the amnesty for certain owners of non-restricted rifles and shotguns has been extended until May 16, 2011.
- During the amnesty, individuals who are taking steps to bring themselves into compliance may not incur criminal liability for unauthorized possession of a non-restricted firearm under section 91 or 92 of the Criminal Code.
- Affected firearm owners must comply with the licensing and registration requirements of the Firearms Act or lawfully dispose of their firearms by the amnesty deadline.
- There is also a time-limited opportunity for certain eligible individuals who have an expired POL to apply for a new POL.
RCMP CFP Special Bulletin for Police – No. 74, informed you that on May 14, 2008, the Minister of Public Safety had announced an extension of the previous amnesty for possession of a non-restricted firearm without a valid licence or registration certificate.
On March 28, 2009, a proposal to extend the amnesty for an additional year for individuals who were taking steps to comply with the law was published in the Canada Gazette. Extending the amnesty would allow more time to inform firearm owners about what they were required to do.
The amnesty has now been extended for one more year, until May 16, 2011.
In the previous bulletin, the CFP provided answers to some of the more frequently asked questions we were receiving from Police. Here is an update:
Who benefits from the period of amnesty?
The amnesty applies to individuals who are taking steps to comply with the law and possess non-restricted firearms without a valid firearms licence, or individuals who hold a registration certificate along with a licence that expired after January 1, 2004.
The amnesty does not apply to individuals who:
- never held a firearms licence; or
- had a firearms licence or Firearms Acquisition Certificate that expired before January 2004; or
- possess restricted or prohibited firearms without a valid licence and/or registration certificate.
What does the amnesty do?
Under the amnesty, individuals may not incur criminal liability under the Criminal Code for unlawful possession of a non-restricted firearm. Other offences pertaining to non-restricted firearms (for example, unsafe storage) continue to apply.
What is the term of the amnesty?
The amnesty term has been extended until May 16, 2011.
How does the amnesty affect individuals who were charged for unauthorized possession of a non-restricted firearm before May 17, 2006?
The amnesty is not retroactive. Charges laid before May 17, 2006 continue to apply.
Now that the amnesty remains in place, what should POLice do when they receive a notice from the CFP Registrar, indicating that a particular individual is in illegal possession of firearms because their licence has expired and their registration certificates have been revoked?
Police officers have certain discretion. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding what action to take:
- Check the class of the firearms listed on the notice of registration revocation. The amnesty only applies to non-restricted firearms, not to restricted or prohibited firearms. If you are not sure about the class of a firearm listed on a registration revocation notice, please contact CFP through one of the means described below. Expert staff will be happy to assist you.
- Individuals to whom the amnesty applies will not incur criminal liability for possessing a non-restricted firearm without a valid licence or registration certificate. However, they are still in unauthorized possession of the firearm and Police have the authority to seize the firearm at their discretion.
- You may wish to conduct a risk assessment. In doing so, you could consider whether the person is of interest in your area, has prior convictions or arrests, and any other information that indicates there may be public safety concern.
- Your agency’s legal counsel may advise you further on what action to take if you still have questions.
Our agency is holding non-restricted firearms that were seized from owners who did not have a valid licence or registration certificate. Now that the amnesty stays in place, may we return the firearms to the owner?
Once firearms have been seized from an individual, they should not be returned until the individual complies with the law and obtains the necessary licence and registration certificate. Alternatively, if the owner transfers and registers the firearms to a properly licensed business or individual, or to a public agency, the firearms may be released to the new owner.
May our agency dispose of non-restricted firearms that were seized from an individual to whom the amnesty applied?
As set out in s.117.03(3) of Part III of the Criminal Code, if a seized firearm is not claimed, a provincial court judge may declare it to be forfeited to Her Majesty, to be disposed of or otherwise dealt with as the Attorney General directs.
Who can apply for a POL under the new initiative?
Individuals who have an expired POL will be able to submit an application for a POL if they meet specific eligibility requirements until May 16 2011.
- previously held a POL which naturally expired (not refused/revoked) after its five-year term;
- in possession of at least one registered restricted or non-restricted firearm;
- meets all the other public safety eligibility requirements necessary to hold a POL.
For more information, please contact the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program.
This bulletin is intended to provide general information only, and may only be copied and distributed within the police community. For legal references, please refer to the Firearms Act and its supporting regulations.
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