By Todd Brown, Concerned Gun Owners of Alberta
To understand what Bill C-19 will do, you need to know that licencing is separate from registration. The Firearms Act deals with two distinct things: the person and the firearm. Licencing deals with the person, and registration deals with the firearm.
Licencing is the wallet photo ID card that gives you permission from the government to possess, buy, and sell firearms and ammunition. It is called a Possession Acquisition Licence, or PAL. All the regulations contained in the Firearms Act affect anyone with a PAL.
Registration deals only with the firearm. “The Registry” is only the part of the Firearms Act that tells the government what firearms you legally own. A registration certificate is a wallet-sized paper card that is supposed to identify a particular firearm, that is to be kept (by law) with that firearm. The number on a registration certificate is tied to, but not part of, your PAL. C-19 affects only the non-restricted category of firearms, the bulk of that category is made up of rifles and shotguns. Firearms of any other category, restricted and prohibited classes, are made up of mostly handguns and full auto firearms. There are exceptions, so make sure your firearms are verified to ensure proper status.
Both licencing of the people and registration of the firearms were started when Bill C-68, The Firearms Act, was made law by the Liberal government.
Bill C-19 proposes to get rid of the registration portion affecting rifles and shotguns (non-restricted) only. Bill C-19 has nothing to do with licencing. You are still required, by law, to possess the photo ID (PAL) to legally possess your firearms. Simple possession of a firearm (without a PAL) is a federal crime.
The prior system, (pre 1995) was the Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC). Under this system, simple possession of a firearm was not a crime.
Under the current system, simple possession of a firearm is a crime, unless you are the holder of a licence (PAL), which when defined is: permission from the government to do something that would otherwise be illegal.
The then-Liberal government had to make simple firearms possession a Criminal Code offence (sec. 91 & 92) for C-68 (The Firearms Act) to have any lawful validity.
Sec 91 and 92 state:
• 91. (1) Subject to subsection (4), every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm without being the holder of
(a) a licence under which the person may possess it; and
(b) in the case of a prohibited firearm or a restricted firearm, a registration certificate for it.
• 92. (1) Subject to subsection (4), every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm knowing that the person is not the holder of
(a) a licence under which the person may possess it; and (b) in the case of a prohibited firearm or a restricted firearm, a registration certificate for it.
So, your registration certificates can be burned, but you still need a valid PAL to possess your firearms.