New Firearms Laws in Effect Today

Two important changes to Canada’s firearms laws have come into effect today, the first dealing with certain types of licences, and the second streamlining the authorization to transport process.

The Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act, which received royal assent in June, contained several significant changes to Canadian firearms laws, some of which were effective immediately, and others which were deferred until a later implementation date.

Two of the changes in these new firearms laws came into effect on September 2, 2015. The first is the automatic conversion of all existing Possession Only Licences to a regular Possession and Acquisition Licence, and the second is the “automatic ATT” or automatic authorization to transport restricted and certain prohibited firearms.

The RCMP has now released a Q&A on the Canadian Firearms Program website (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index-eng.html) which explains how these changes are being implemented. Some firearms blogs and forums have seen firearms owners express confusion and concern about how the new laws were to be implemented, and the Q & A seems to address those concerns directly.

First, as of today, a “POL” or possession-only licence now entitles the holder to acquire firearms.  Upon renewal of their licence, those holders will receive a possession and acquisition, or PAL, licence.  It is now impossible to obtain a POL licence as they no longer exist in law. A person who holds a POL licence and who wishes to acquire firearms may do so starting today, and the seller may accept the POL as proof of the buyer’s legal ability to acquire the firearm, if it is of the correct class.

Second, authorizations to transport restricted and certain prohibited firearms (ATTs) are no longer required for certain routine and lawful activities as they are now a condition of a restricted PAL holder’s licence.  A reissued licence is not required.

Those persons who already hold a paper ATT may keep it until they expire, after which time a new paper ATT is no longer required for the specified activities.

According to the RCMP’s Q & A, those restricted PAL holders who do not already have an ATT for the purposes of target shooting will not have an automatic condition to transport their firearms to a shooting club or shooting range, until they either acquire a restricted (or prohibited, if lawful for them) firearm, request an ATT, or renew their licence.

The RCMP also reminds us that an ATT can be revoked, even if it is an automatic condition included in a PAL.

For further information, refer to the RCMP Q & A here.

Other changes implemented in Bill C-42 which are already in effect include making the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course mandatory for those first time applicants wishing to obtain those classes of PAL licences. “Challenging” the exam without taking the full course is no longer possible.