Feds overhaul gun laws with new 'common sense' firearms act

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney



POWASSAN, Ont. - Gun laws in Canada are getting a major overhaul.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced a new "Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act" here Wednesday, designed to cut red tape for legal gun owners.

He also said owning a gun was a "right, and it's a right that comes with responsibilities."

The act would limit the powers of provincial chief firearms officers, make all firearm licences possession-and-acquisition (PAL) licences, make it easier for legal gun owners to transport restricted firearms around their home province, provide a grace period to renew expired gun licenses, make the gun safety course mandatory for new shooters, and crack down further on domestic abusers owning guns.

"These measures would streamline licensing and eliminate needless red tape for law-abiding gun owners," Blaney said. "Those who have shown a pattern of violent behaviour should not be able to possess firearms. These are the people we should focus our gun control efforts on."

In 2012, the Tories scrapped the controversial long gun registry.

Since then, some provincial chief firearms officers have angered gun owners with stiff arbitrary measures under a clause that allows them to attach "any reasonable condition" they see fit to gun licences, business licences and permits to transport restricted guns.

That power will be curbed in the new act.

Also in the act, restricted firearms owners would be allowed to transport their weapons around their province with a single licence. Currently, new paperwork is needed anytime a restricted weapon is transported to a destination other than the shooting range at which the owner is a member.

Gun rights advocates have long argued the excessive paperwork did nothing to improve public safety.

In a separate announcement, Blaney also extended the amnesty for owners of Swiss Arms and CZ 858 rifles, which the RCMP reclassified earlier this year.

While the guns are still prohibited, owners now can possess them and use them as they could before the reclassification.

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