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The RCMP have updated their policy page with the following:

Due to measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian Firearms Program is currently experiencing significant impacts to our services, like many other service providers in Canada.

  • Clients may experience longer than normal wait times when calling the contact centre
  • The processing of applications for a new firearm licence is on hold until further notice
  • The production of firearms licence cards is on hold until further notice
  • The delivery of Firearms Safety Course (s) may be postponed due to social distancing protocols

Firearm licence expiry

  • As per the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, since October 2017, individuals have a six-month extension (grace) period past the expiry date printed on their firearms licence card to submit a renewal application online
  • Your firearms licence card will remain valid, with limitations, during this extension (grace) period
  • Individuals can check the status of their firearms licence application via Individual Web Services.

Firearm licence renewal

  • The processing of firearms licence renewal applications submitted by mail is on hold until further notice
  • We recommend submitting your application to renew your firearms licence via Individual Web Services.
  • The production of firearms licence cards is on hold until further notice, however, law enforcement agencies and firearms businesses can validate your licence status online
  • Individuals can check the status of their firearms licence application via Individual Web Services.

As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to provide updates on our website as required.

If you are looking for statistics on the Canadian Firearms Program, please visit the latest annual report.

What does this mean for gun owners?

In short, it means gun owners may not be charged with the illegal possession of a firearm under the Criminal Code if their license lapses during this time. However, some may recall that C-42’s grace period does have severe limitations, as recounted by the bill’s original legislative summary:

2.2.2.2 Six-Month Grace Period After the Expiry of a Licence (Clauses 14 and 16)

Under section 64(1) of the Firearms Act, a licence issued to an individual who is over the age of 18 expires on the earlier of five years after the next birthday of the holder following the issuance of the licence, or the termination of the period for which it is issued. Subject to limited exceptions,15 the possession of firearms without a licence (and a registration certificate for prohibited and restricted firearms) constitutes an offence under section 91(1) of the Code. Bill C-42 creates a grace period extending the validity of a firearms licence for six months beginning on the day that the licence would otherwise have expired (new section 64(1.1) of the Firearms Act).

Licences that are extended as a result of the new grace period are subject to limitations:

  • the holder of such a licence must not, until the renewal of the licence, use his or her firearms or acquire any firearms or ammunition (new section 64(1.2) of the Firearms Act);
  • the extension of the licence does not result in the extension of any authorization to carry or authorization to transport beyond the day on which the licence would have expired (new section 64(1.3) of the Firearms Act); and
  • during the extension period, the availability of authorizations to carry and authorizations to transport is limited (new section 64(1.4)).

We have continued to reach out to RCMP media liaison officers to try and get clarification as to whether or not those limitations will be enforced or to what degree they may be enforced, given the cause of the inability to renew does not lie with gun owners themselves, and this crisis’ potential impact on industries deemed essential such as ranching and subsistence hunting and predator control operations; some of whom may find themselves impacted by the increased license renewal timelines.

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