(NC)—The Minister of Public Safety recently announced initiatives intended to make Canada safer by facilitating and increasing compliance with the Firearms Act. The following initiatives will be in effect until May 16, 2009:
• An amnesty which applies to some non-restricted firearm owners who take steps to comply with the Firearms Act by obtaining a licence and/or a registration certificate. Individuals who meet these criteria will not be criminally prosecuted for the related offences outlined in the Criminal Code.
• A fee waiver extension associated with renewing or upgrading an existing firearms licence.
• The opportunity for eligible holders of expired firearms Possession Only Licences (POL) to apply for a new POL.
The amnesty order may protect an individual from criminal liability for unauthorized possession of an unregistered, non-restricted firearm if:
• the individual holds a valid firearms licence, or
• the individual held a licence that expired on or after January 1, 2004.
To be eligible for this protection, the individual must be taking the necessary steps to comply with the law during the amnesty period. More information regarding the amnesty can be found on the RCMP’s Canada Firearms Centre’s website (www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca) or by calling 1-800-731-4000.
The fee waiver applies to eligible individuals who are renewing an existing firearms licence, replacing an expired licence or changing certain licence privileges [for example, upgrading from a POL to a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) or adding privileges for restricted firearms to a PAL]. This waiver, however, does not apply to individuals who:
• Are obtaining their first licence,
• Held a minor’s licence and are applying for a PAL,
• Are obtaining a new licence after their licence was refused or revoked, or
• Are obtaining a licence after the expiry of a firearms prohibition order.
The third initiative allows eligible individuals with expired POL’s to apply for a new POL. Previously, once a POL expired, it could not be renewed or replaced, and the holder of the expired POL had to apply for a PAL instead. Until May 16, 2009, however, holders of expired POL’s can apply for a new POL if they meet the following requirements:
• Their previous POL expired naturally after its five-year term,
• They possess at least one registered non-restricted or restricted firearm, and
• They are otherwise eligible and meet all other public safety requirements necessary to hold a POL.
These three complementary initiatives, in effect until May 16, 2009, work together to help previously lawful firearms owners to come back into compliance with the Firearms Act.