New firearms legislation introduced

On March 3, the Province introduced the Firearm Violence Prevention Act (Bill 4), aimed at reducing gun violence. The proposed legislation incorporates recommendations made by the Illegal Firearms Task Force, and largely targets the purchase, transportation and possession of illegal and imitation firearms.

Key provisions, including some that may be of interest to local governments, include the following:

  • Penalizing the drivers of vehicles used to transport illegal firearms, including authorization for peace officers to impound vehicles;
  • Prohibiting individuals from using, carrying or storing low-velocity or imitation firearms in a manner that causes a public disturbance;
  • Prohibiting individuals from possessing low-velocity or imitation firearms if they are already prohibited from possessing firearms or other specified weapons/substances;
  • Prohibiting the discharge of a low-velocity or imitation firearm by minors in an area where the discharge of a firearm or imitation firearm is prohibited;
  • Prohibiting individuals from possessing firearms (real and imitation) in designated locations (e.g. schools, places of worship, hospitals);
  • Prohibiting the sale of low-velocity or imitation firearms to youth – although youth may still use these items and participate in events such as airsoft sports;
  • Liability protection for professionals that breach client confidentiality by reporting risks of firearms violence to police; and,
  • Additional records keeping requirements for shooting ranges.

Violation tickets will be issued for minor offences; moderate offences may result in charges under this Act; and, serious offences will be addressed through the Criminal Code.

Should legislation receive Royal Assent, a comprehensive regulatory scheme will be developed in advance of the Act coming into force.

Last month, the federal government introduced its own firearms legislation, Bill C-21, that if passed will introduce a voluntary firearms buy-back program; increase penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking; and, allow local governments to ban handguns through bylaws addressing possession, storage and transportation. Federal legislation comes 9 months after a federal order-in-council banning 1,500 assault-style firearms.

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