The Toronto Star:
Ottawa — The federal Conservatives are considering sweeping
recommendations from an influential government firearms advisory
committee to loosen Canada’s gun control laws, the Star has learned.
The proposed changes would touch on
many of the remaining restrictions on firearms and critics say would
pose a risk to public safety.
The proposals include getting rid of
the “prohibited” category of firearms and reclassifying weapons such as
certain handguns and assault weapons as “restricted” only, and extending
the duration of owner licences from five to 10 years — a move the RCMP
warns would strip away an important safety check.
The 12 committee members also called for the removal of the
requirement on gun owners to get an “authorization to transport”
firearms, and for the creation of a committee to advise on the
classification of imported firearms — but said it should be made up
mostly of advisers from industry.
They recommended seized firearms —
which by law must now be destroyed — be made legally available for
public sale or trade. They suggested a “prohibited persons registry”
could be set up to aid the tracking of those who should not be allowed
to possess guns, but otherwise prohibited weapons should be
Firearms licences should be valid for
at least 10 years “or longer,” said the committee, and “if a licence
expires, it should go into suspension until renewed, removing the
criminalization of the firearm possessor.”
Toews’ office confirmed Wednesday
that he is actively considering the recommendations, particularly a
licence of longer duration.
Assistant Commissioner Pierre Perron, responsible for the Canadian
Firearms Centre, was at the March meeting and warned extending the
duration of licences to 10 years “would limit” the RCMP’s “ability to
monitor, on a timely basis, any changes to an individual’s mental health
status,” according to a written record of the discussion that Toews’
office prepared. That’s because when a licence is renewed, an individual
must answer questions about mental health or changes in personal
circumstances that could affect their fitness to own a weapon— and the
form must be verified by another person.
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