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CONCERNS WITH NEW GUN MARKING LAWS


November 30, 2012
By Tony Palermo

601 words – MR

New gun laws deferred amid concerns

The long-delayed amendments to the Canadian Firearms Marking Regulations, set to take effect Dec. 1, 2012, have been deferred again for another year.

“In order to allow for consultations regarding amendments to the marking regulations, the government intends to defer the UN regulations rather than bringing them into force at this time,” said Jean Paul Duval, a spokesperson with Public Safety Canada (PSC).

The revised regulations, which have been put off and revised several times since first announced in 2004, were again raising eyebrows among law enforcement officials, the very people the government said the regulations were designed to help.

According to a regulatory impact analysis document published in the Canada Gazette on October 13, 2012, the new regulations were supposed to address “the gap which has emerged with the abolition of the long-gun registry.” It goes on to say that the proposal ensures “that all firearms continue to be marked to facilitate firearms identification, including crime gun tracing by law enforcement.”

“Our government is focused on effective solutions to tackle crime, not billion dollar boondoggles,” says PSC spokesperson Julie Carmichael “What we will not do is establish a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that the CBC estimated cost $2 billion.”

The long-gun registry was an effective tool, some police say, and suggesting the new marking regulations ensure effective crime gun tracing isn’t entirely accurate.

“Certainly, the more information we have, the better, says Det/Insp. Patti Dobbin of the OPP’s Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit. “But tracing? With the abolishment of the long-gun registry, now police can only trace the non-restricted firearm, by way of its serial number, back to the manufacturer and possibly to what individual or business the firearm was distributed to for retail sale.”

The government’s own regulatory impact analysis document also concedes the new marking regulations are of limited use in tracing crime guns, noting that “with the repeal of the registration of non-restricted firearms and the loss of the ability to link markings with public ownership records (i.e. registry data) and the absence of business record-keeping requirements, the markings are only of limited use in the tracing of non-restricted firearms used in crimes.”

As it stands, prohibited and restricted firearms must be registered and to register them, they must bear identifying data like a serial number – but since the long gun registry was abolished and non-restricted firearms no longer need to be registered, under the previous regulations, they technically no longer needed to be marked as well.

The new regulations aimed to fix that loop-hole. In part, they required that firearms manufactured in, or imported to, Canada have a serial number, manufacturer name and other markings required to distinguish them from other firearms permanently stamped or engraved on the frame or receiver.

Tracing capabilities aside, visibly marking all firearms sounds like a good idea but police are concerned that the new regulations exempt certain firearms from the marking requirement. They stipulate that rare or unusually high-valued firearms are exempt from needing to be marked – but don’t specify a means of qualifying what constitutes a rare or unusually high-valued firearm, leaving it open to interpretation.

Another consideration is that most reputable manufacturers already mark their firearms – and according to the same government impact analysis document, there are no plans to enforce the regulations for those who fail to meet the required marking standards.

As Dobbin says, at the end of the day, without any sort of penalty to enforce for those who fail to meet the required marking standards, it provides the opportunity for untraceable firearms.

tony@blueline.ca


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