Canadian government defers marking of imported firearms until 2023

Once again, the Canadian federal government has put off its planned marking program for imported firearms.

For years, the feds have been working on a plan to stamp every firearm imported to Canada with a unique serial number. No, not the serial numbers that are already on the receivers from the factory. They want to add another serial number. That was supposed to come into effect on December 1, 2020. Now now it’s been kicked down the road to December 1, 2023.

The Canadian federal government has been planning to mark all imported firearms for years, ever since Bill C10-A passed back in the early 2000s. The plan is to get on board with the UN Firearms Protocol. Basically, several UN countries have decided to mark all firearms imported into their countries, and Canada wants to get on board (see more about that here).

Canadian firearms businesses and shooters have long opposed the move. They say it would drive up the prices of firearms significantly, while doing nothing to stop crime.

Previously, the government said this would “help improve public safety by facilitating the ability of law enforcement to trace the criminal use of firearms.” How does that work? The most recent press release says “Firearms markings enables law enforcement to trace crime guns, and is most successful when paired with records of ownership and imports. In the absence of record-keeping requirements for non-restricted firearms, consultations with law enforcement and industry led to the conclusion that the existing Regulations, as conceived in 2004, are ineffective in facilitating successful tracing of crime guns.”

Hrm. We don’t currently have a firearms registry in Canada (except for Quebec’s provincial registry). How will the new program be more effective than tracing serial numbers back to their importers, which is how things currently work, theoretically? The latest press release doesn’t tell us. However, it does say “The Government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry.”

Also note the press release calls current measures “ineffective” in tracing firearms used in crime. Sounds like someone in government’s finally paying attention to the RCMP. However, the presser also says the government still plans to implement a firearms marking program.

In any case, it’s not going to be an issue for another three years. And who knows what will happen then? The planned marking program has been postponed a few times, by both Conservative and now Liberal governments. The feds say they remain committed to firearms markings regulations as part of their broader firearms strategy, but there’s been little action. Indeed, the Canadian gun control lobby appears to be getting antsy on this one.

Tide turning?

The import marking process has been put on hold. The RCMP’s union is also standing against the government’s Order In Council firearms ban announced in May, 2020.This spring’s OIC ban is about to receive a significant legal challenge in Alberta. The Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights has also just launched an application for injunction against the OIC.

Canadian firearms owners have had plenty of difficulty for the past few years. Now, maybe, a few things are turning in their favour?