Firearm-mark­ing rules de­layed again, de­spite Lib­eral cam­paign pledge

Times Colonist - - The Capital / B.c. - JIM BRONSKILL

OT­TAWA — The Trudeau gov­ern­ment is again de­lay­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of firearm-mark­ing reg­u­la­tions in­tended to help po­lice trace guns used in crimes — de­spite a 2015 cam­paign pledge to im­me­di­ately en­act them.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced Fri­day it will de­fer the reg­u­la­tions, which were slated to come into force early next month, un­til Dec. 1, 2020.

It said more time is needed to come up with a sys­tem for im­ple­ment­ing the reg­u­la­tions, first drafted in 2004, adding that de­tails about the de­fer­ral would be made avail­able this month.

The firearms com­mu­nity has long op­posed the mea­sure.

The reg­u­la­tions would re­quire do­mes­ti­cally man­u­fac­tured firearms to bear the name of the man­u­fac­turer, se­rial num­ber, and “Canada” or “CA,” while im­ported guns would have to carry the “Canada” or “CA” des­ig­na­tion along with the last two dig­its of the year of im­port.

The mea­sures would help Canada meet the re­quire­ments of the United Na­tions Firearms Pro­to­col and a con­ven­tion of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States.

Pub­lic Safety Canada has said the mark­ings also have value for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment in trac­ing crime guns.

In a state­ment Fri­day, the depart­ment said the gov­ern­ment is con­tin­u­ing work “to de­velop an ef­fec­tive mark­ings regime that en­ables law en­force­ment to ef­fec­tively trace crime guns, with­out im­pos­ing un­due con­straints or costs on firearms own­ers and busi­nesses.”

The pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment de­layed the reg­u­la­tions sev­eral times.

In their elec­tion plat­form, the Lib­er­als said they would “im­me­di­ately” im­ple­ment gun-mark­ing reg­u­la­tions. In ad­di­tion, the mark­ing-reg­u­la­tion prom­ise was in­cluded in a brief­ing book doc­u­ment pre­pared for the prime min­is­ter en­ti­tled “Key Com­mit­ments for Ac­tion in First 100 Days.”

How­ever, they missed a June 1, 2017, im­ple­men­ta­tion date, bump­ing it to Dec. 1 of this year.

At the time, of­fi­cials said the ef­fect of the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s destruc­tion of the long-gun registry would need to be con­sid­ered be­fore bring­ing the reg­u­la­tions into force.

Some firearms ad­vo­cates have ar­gued the obli­ga­tion to mark im­ported guns would mean ac­quir­ing mark­ing tech­nol­ogy or mak­ing ar­range­ments for an­other com­pany to ap­ply mark­ings, with an es­ti­mated cost of $200 per gun.

How­ever, an in­de­pen­dent study com­mis­sioned by the gov­ern­ment said the cost to stamp or en­grave mark­ings for Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers and large im­porters would range from noth­ing at all to $25 per firearm. It was not pos­si­ble to gauge the im­pact on in­di­vid­u­als and small im­porters.

Many Cana­dian gun man­u­fac­tur­ers ex­port­ing to the United States al­ready mark their firearms in a man­ner that would meet or ex­ceed re­quire­ments set out in the reg­u­la­tions to meet U.S. stan­dards, and at least one im­porter has vol­un­tar­ily ap­plied im­port marks, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal gov­ern­ment memo.

Re­gard­less, the memo said, the ma­jor­ity of firearms ad­vo­cates and busi­nesses are “strongly op­posed” to the reg­u­la­tions due to the per­cep­tion they would sad­dle man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters with ad­di­tional costs while pro­vid­ing lit­tle pub­lic safety ben­e­fit.

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