Measure to ensure gun buyers are licensed seriously flawed, group says

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OTTAWA – A leading gun control group accuses the federal Liberals of endangering public safety by reneging on their promise to ensure gun buyers have a valid license.

In a written submission to the government, PolySeSouvient says proposed regulations to flesh out federal legislation do not go far enough to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.

The group, which calls for tighter gun controls, includes students and graduates of École Polytechnique de Montreal, where an armed man killed 14 women in 1989.

When Bill C-71 received Royal Assent in 2019, the government said it would require sellers to verify the validity of a firearms license before selling an unrestricted firearm. , like a rifle or shotgun.

Confirming the validity of a potential purchaser’s license is a fundamental part of any credible gun control regime, as stolen, revoked or counterfeit licenses can be used to illegally purchase guns, says PolySeSouvient.

However, the planned regulations do not prevent such abuses, the group says.

He notes that there is no obligation on a seller’s part to check with the Federal Registrar of Firearms to see if a potential gun buyer actually has a valid license.

Although the regulations specify that a potential buyer must provide a potential seller with all of the information on the front of their license, including the photo of the buyer, nowhere does it say that the seller must provide this information to the seller. registrar.

“This is exactly what the gun lobby wants: for the government to have as little information as possible on unrestricted gun transactions,” said PolySeSouvient spokesperson Nathalie Provost, who was shot four times in the 1989 assault on the engineering school.

“Looks like they got their wish, yet again, at the expense of public safety.”

The registrar would only issue a reference number greenlighting a sale if it was satisfied the buyer was eligible to hold a license, said Tim Warmington, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada.

But he acknowledged that the proposed law and regulations “do not explicitly state what information the seller must provide” to the registrar when a reference number is requested.

Warmington said examples of information required by the Registrar might include the vendor’s license number and name (to allow the Registrar to ensure the vendor has a valid firearms license), and the number of the permit, the name and expiry date of the purchaser (to ensure that the license number provided to the purchaser is correct).

The seller will also need to confirm that they have taken reasonable steps to verify that the buyer is the licensee, he added.

PolySeSouvient allows the registrar to request license information before assigning a reference number.

“The point is, this is discretionary and not required by law,” the group says. “A future government that aligns with the gun lobby might as well require officials to automatically approve such requests or applications, hence the importance of specifying these details in law.”

Bill C-71 also extends background checks to determine eligibility for a firearms license to a person’s entire life, not just the past five years, and expands the grounds to cover background a plaintiff in domestic violence and online threats.

In addition, the law requires sellers to keep records of non-restricted firearms transactions and requires owners to have a separate Authorization to Transport (ATT) when bringing restricted and prohibited firearms into any location. any location except an approved shooting range.

PolySeSouvient also has serious concerns about these elements, arguing in its brief:

– Lifetime background checks remain discretionary and do not correct more significant flaws in the selection process, such as known risks that are dismissed or ignored;

– the usefulness of sales records is undermined by the need for the police to obtain a search warrant to access them; and

– the transport authorization allows an owner to take a handgun to and from any shooting club or shooting range in his province, even if he is not a member.

“While C-71 and the proposed regulations may move gun control in the right direction, it does so in a way that can only be described as small, concession-ridden steps to the gun lobby. “, indicates the submission.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 8, 2021.


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