Changes to firearm rules expected to cut paperwork

Proposed legislation will eliminate the possession-only licence

Proposed changes to firearm regulations in Canada will reduce paperwork, not safety, says an official with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

Introduced to Parliament late this fall, the Conservative government’s Bill C-42 would eliminate the possession-only licence (POL) for firearm owners.

The POL was available to firearm owners before 2001 and prohibits owners from acquiring more firearms.

POLs are now available only as a renewal of an existing licence. Everyone else has a possession and acquisition licence (PAL), which is acquired by completing the required courses.

“Most of them were older people in society that got these POLs,” said Greg Illerbrun of the SWF.

“We’re running this separate system to run the POLs. In the meantime, the rest of us have PALs.”

The proposed legislation would convert all existing POLs to PALs.

“As far as public safety goes, nothing changes,” said Illerbrun.

“They still have to have a licence. You’re just going to have one licence instead of making two.”

The SWF and other wildlife groups are supporting the changes, although Illerbrun had hoped for licences that would be valid for more than five years.

The five-year period remains, but the new legislation would grant licence holders a six month grace period after its expiration to renew.

The Conservatives, who previously dismantled the country’s controversial long-gun registry, are also looking to loosen restrictions on transporting firearms “by making them a condition of a licence for certain routine and lawful activities.”

The changes include restricted firearms, which has drawn criticism from opposition parties and gun control supporters.

Another organization, the National Firearms Association, has condemned the legislation for not offering even greater relief from “irritating bureaucratic processes.”

Under the new legislation, authorization to transport a firearm won’t require separate documentation. It also expands the places of travel to include gun shops, gun shows and port of exit leaving the country.

“They’re saying we just should do this together and tie them together. Save the taxpayer money, all the different bureaucratic paperwork that folks have to do to comply with the law,” said Illerbrun. “Because they have to have an Authorization to Transport to go to the range and they have to go to the range to shoot the guns because they have to use it to keep it.”

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