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Legislation to further regulate firearms in Canada adopted in Senate

Bill C-71 was sponsored by Senator André Pratte, an independent Senator from Quebec.

Legislation that delivers on the current Government’s election promise to prevent and reduce gun violence in Canada is set to be law after being adopted in the Senate.

Senator André Pratte, who sponsored Bill C-71 in the Upper Chamber, detailed recent gun-related tragedies during his third reading speech in the Senate.

Six people were killed and 19 more injured when Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire at a Quebec City mosque on January 29, 2017. Lindsay Margaret Wilson was just 26 years old when her ex-boyfriend murdered her with a shotgun in Bracebridge, Ontario, on April 5, 2013

“The overwhelming majority of firearm owners are good, law-abiding citizens who have absolutely nothing in common with criminals, nor do they suffer from mental illnesses linked to violent behaviour. But there are tragic exceptions. Bill C-71 seeks to address these exceptions,” he said. “This isn’t a vote against lawful gun owners. It’s a vote for life.”

Bill C-71 regulates firearms in Canada in several key ways:

  • Enhances background checks, by removing the five-year limit on an applicant’s history when determining whether or not to issue a licence;
  • Strengthens licence verification, by reinstating the requirement that anyone selling or gifting a firearm must contact the Firearms Registrar to ensure the buyer or recipient has a valid licence;
  • Creates a federal requirement for vendors to keep records of sales of non-restricted firearms for a 20-year period;
  • Requires owners of restricted or prohibited firearms to seek an authorization to transport from their provincial Chief Firearms Officer when transporting firearms to any place other than a licenced shooting range or their home following a purchase;
  • Removes the ability of the Governor-in-Council to set aside RCMP classification decisions; and
  • Manages changing weapons classifications by offering that owners, faced with recent changes to two groups of firearms, be either grandfathered or given a three-year amnesty to come into compliance.

Bill C-71 in the Senate

Bill C-71 was introduced in the Senate on September 25, 2018. The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence reviewed the bill over the course of about 30 hours during six hearings, and recommended several changes.

Sen. Pratte raised concerns that “a wafer-thin majority on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence eviscerated Bill C-71, removing three of its five main provisions.” He called on the Senate as a whole to reject the committee’s proposed amendments, which he said “go so far as to surgically removing the heart and lungs of this piece of legislation.”

The Senate defeated the report – and the proposed amendments – on May 7.

The Senate adopted the bill unamended on May 28. It is awaiting Royal Assent.

Legislation to further regulate firearms in Canada adopted in Senate