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2012 Highlights

Commissioner of Firearms - 2012 Report

Bill C-19 Changes Firearms Legislation

Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, also referred to as the Ending the Long Gun Registry Act, received Royal Assent on April 5, 2012. Bill C-19:

  • Removed the legislative requirement for individuals and businesses to register non-restricted firearms*,
  • Retained the existing legislative framework for the registration and transfer of restricted and prohibited firearms,
  • Required the deletion of all data* held by the RCMP and provincial CFOs associated with the non-restricted firearms registration records collected since the coming into force of the Firearms Act on December 1, 1998, and
  • Created the authority for the CFP to provide transferors of non-restricted firearms with confirmation of the validity of transferees' firearms licences prior to transfers being finalized, on request of the transferor.

*At the time this report was prepared, a Quebec Superior Court order is in force. Pursuant to the order, the CFP Registrar of Firearms continues to register non-restricted firearms and to maintain non-restricted firearm registration records for Quebec residents and businesses.

In October 2012, the RCMP deleted all (except those of Quebec) electronic records identified as being related to the registration of non-restricted firearms in the Canadian Firearms Information System.

Compliance Incentives

In May 2012, the Minister of Public Safety announced the extension of firearms licensing compliance incentives:

  • A fee waiver for firearms licence renewals or upgrades from one type of licence to another;
  • An amnesty that allows individuals who have expired firearms licences the opportunity to come into compliance without risk of prosecution, providing they are attempting to come back into compliance; and
  • The opportunity for eligible holders of expired Possession Only Licences (POL) to apply for a new POL.

The amnesty and new POL incentives were extended until May 16, 2013, as was the fee waiver for licences with non-restricted firearms privileges ONLY. However, fees for licences with restricted or prohibited firearms privileges were reinstated on September 18, 2012.

Northern Firearms Safety Strategy

In order to improve firearms and community safety and achieve higher firearms licence compliance levels in Northern Canada, the Canadian Firearms Program has developed a Northern Firearms Strategy.

Initial steps included identifying communities and establishing partnerships and infrastructure for CFP delivery of support and training, including firearms safety training and testing, licence application assistance and other firearm-related services.

By the end of 2012, the following had been completed:

  • Outreach visits, including licensing assistance and the provision of firearms safety guidance, in six northern communities: Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Rankin Inlet, Hall Beach, Igoolik and Cape Dorset
  • Delivery of firearms safety training through RCMP Summer Student Program in Nunavut
  • Delivery of Canadian Firearms Instructor Training to Nunavut RCMP Detachment Commanders who can then actively promote and deliver the Canadian Firearms Safety Course to other residents of Nunavut,
  • Three-year assignment of an RCMP regular member to perform the duties of Firearms Officer under the Firearms Act and under the mandate of the CFO for the Territory of Nunavut.

Canadian Firearms Program's Inuktitut-language brochure - Safely Storing, Transporting and Displaying Firearms

Canadian Firearms Program's Inuktitut-language brochure,
Safely Storing, Transporting and Displaying Firearms

Firearms Internet Investigations Support

Located in Ottawa, the CFP's Firearms Internet Investigations Support Unit conducts open-source reviews and analysis, provides investigative support to police and Chief Firearms Officers upon request and plays a key role in the enhanced screening of firearms licence applicants. On several occasions, this group has discovered online information containing potentially criminal firearms activities, which it provided to the police (nationally and internationally) of jurisdiction for further investigation. This CFP unit has been credited with helping to prevent a number of tragedies involving firearms.

While performing routine verifications of various open-source school-shooting dedication web pages, a member of the Firearms Internet Investigations Support Unit read some entries that piqued her interest. An individual had posted some comments on the Columbine site, claiming they would "beat the Virginia tech killer's high score". This warning led the CFP employee to review other websites the same individual had posted messages to, and it was noted that several of their Facebook status updates conveyed dissatisfaction with their personal life and school experience, sounding a stronger alarm.

Using available online information, the employee was able to determine the name and U.S. location of the school, prepare a report of the findings and submit it to the police of jurisdiction. The school was notified, and the school safety officer met with the individual after reviewing the report. The individual was apologetic and tried to play down the situation, stating that their posted comments were meant only as a joke. However, two days later, one of the investigating police officers called the CFP with an update. The individual had approached a teacher, talked about suicide, asked if the teacher "remembered Columbine" and said they were going to shoot the school principal. Police took action and the CFP employee was credited with helping to avert a tragedy.

The CFP Firearms Internet Investigations Support Unit continues to comb open sources on the Internet for warning signs of firearms crime and misuse, supporting investigations that may prevent shooting tragedies.

10th Annual International Firearms Trafficking School

The 10th annual International Firearms Trafficking School, a week-long forum dedicated to sharing firearms-related investigative information with law enforcement participants, was co-hosted by the CFP in Ottawa in September 2012. Presentation topics included firearms identification, tracing and ballistics, online trafficking, and emerging firearms technologies and trends. Among the participating agencies were the Canada Border Services Agency, Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Public Safety Canada, as well as various RCMP and provincial police groups, and several Canadian "Guns and Gangs" Units. The event was co-hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). International participants included law enforcement investigators from Guatemala, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Austria, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom.

Investments to Combat the Criminal Use of Firearms

The Investments to Combat the Criminal Use of Firearms (ICCUF), formed in 2004, comprises a partnership between the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program, RCMP Criminal Intelligence, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. The goal of ICCUF is to improve the national collection, analysis and sharing of firearm-related intelligence and information in order to help identify trends and threats. This directly supports the Government of Canada's objective to tackle violent crime, including firearm-related violence and trafficking.

In collaboration with RCMP investigators, CFP National Weapons Enforcement Support Team members assisted in the execution of a search warrant at a rural home and found drugs being cultivated and manufactured on behalf of an organized crime group. Approximately 80 firearms of various classes were also seized from the residence – including a 50-calibre Browning machine gun. NWEST members collected, identified and catalogued the firearms, and recommended applicable charges.

In collaboration with RCMP investigators, CFP National Weapons Enforcement Support Team members assisted in the execution of a search warrant at a rural home and found drugs being cultivated and manufactured on behalf of an organized crime group. Approximately 80 firearms of various classes were also seized from the residence – including a 50-calibre Browning machine gun. NWEST members collected, identified and catalogued the firearms, and recommended applicable charges.

Canada Safety Council Partnership

2012 was the fourth year the CFP contributed to a Canada Safety Council (CSC) public awareness campaign focused on firearms safety.  Public Service Announcements (PSA), a news release and printed information were distributed. The CFP turned to the sharing of good news stories to bolster public awareness and this past year shared a story of firearms safety training in a northern Ontario town and the positive impact that it had on the community. "Training Makes Communities Safer" incorporated valuable safety tips and emphasized that, as more communities offer firearms safety training, safe storage and handling practices become the norm.

Canadian Firearms Program Contributes to Canada Safety Council Public Awareness Campaign

Firearms safety awareness campaign activities completed in 2012:

Public Service Announcements

Thirty-second PSAs for television and radio outlets across Canada resulted in 506 contacts (118 television stations; and 318 radio stations). Links to these PSAs were also provided in news releases.

News Media

Four news releases were distributed to more than 2,100 contacts in print, television and radio news media, and posted on the CSC's website.

Print Information

The CSC quarterly magazine, Living Safety, which featured an article on firearms safety training, was distributed to more than 21,000 households and businesses. Posters and pamphlets focused on hunting and farming communities were also distributed. In 2012, these items were also sent to 351 English and 165 French libraries across the country.

Information on the Web

The CSC featured the campaign online and continues to offer the media releases on their website.

Summary

The CSC estimates that the reach of the campaign more than doubled from the previous year. The general nature of the messaging gives it longevity with the PSAs and news releases appearing on TV, radio, print and online into 2013.