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Ottawa considers allowing banned guns to be mailed to disposal facilities

Click to play video: 'Federal government unveils 1st phase of gun buyback program'
Federal government unveils 1st phase of gun buyback program
The federal government has begun its long-promised firearms buyback program. Mackenzie Gray explains what the start of the program entails, why critics believe the plan misses the mark, and what advocates say still needs to be done – Apr 26, 2023

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc is putting new regulations before Parliament to allow professional couriers like Canada Post and private companies like FedEx and UPS to transport restricted firearms for disposal as part of the long-planned assault-style weapon buyback.

“Once the program launches, these measures will provide businesses with additional options to participate in the program and dispose of the affected assault-style firearms and devices they hold in their inventory,” LeBlanc said in a statement.

“Specifically, once in force, these proposed regulations will make the affected firearms and devices mailable matter and will temporarily permit businesses taking part in the program to ship firearms or devices via post.”

Before his proposal, the only method specified to dispose of the more than 1,500 assault-style firearms that were banned in the wake of the April 2020 Portapique, N.S., mass shooting was to turn these weapons into the police.

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With the passage of Bill C-21 last year, the government established a Criminal Code definition for “assault-style firearm” that will be bought back by the government.

First, there will be a buyback for retailers to launch that program by the end of 2024. This will be followed by a buyback for individuals who have now-banned guns.

Speaking on background, a government official says the change is being made to make the disposal of restricted firearms easier for retailers so they can use the same means they are comfortable with to securely ship other, legal inventory.

In a statement, National Police Federation president and CEO Brian Sauvé says safety of their nearly 20,000 RCMP members and other Canadians is their primary concern in how these restricted firearms are eventually shipped.

“We want to ensure whatever transport system or combinations of systems that are put in place, the security of our Members and Canadians is considered paramount – clear communication on the program and the safety and security of it to avoid any theft of firearms from third party providers,” he wrote.

This amendment is now in a 30-sitting-day consultation period before it can take effect.

Click to play video: 'Canada seeing rise in firearm-related violent crime: StatCan'
Canada seeing rise in firearm-related violent crime: StatCan

It’s estimated this restriction covered just under 40,000 firearms. The government stresses this is an estimate only, since prior to May 2020, these weapons did not have to be registered.

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There are 2,381 businesses in the country licensed to possess firearms, and the government estimates there are about 9,000 assault-style firearms currently held by these businesses.

The government estimates there are around 150,000 assault-style firearms in the country, with more than 110,000 that were classified as restricted before the May 2020 order in council banned the remainder.

The Criminal Code amnesty for individuals in possession of these now-banned weapons has been extended twice as the government continues to develop its buyback program. It currently is set to expire on Oct. 30, 2025. After that, any person or business in possession of restricted firearms can face criminal prosecution.

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