Liberal government delays gun marking regulations until 2023

The Trudeau government is delaying the enactment of gun marking regulations for the third time since being elected — despite promising to bring them into force immediately following the 2015 election.

Public Safety Canada announced today it will defer the regulations, which were meant to take effect on Dec. 1, until Dec. 1, 2023. The regulations — first drafted in 2004 but never fully implemented — are designed to help police investigators trace suspects connected to gun crimes.

The department said it concluded after consulting with law enforcement agencies and industry groups that the regulations as drafted would be ineffective in the absence of record-keeping requirements for non-restricted firearms.

“The government will use the deferral period to continue consulting with partners and develop an effective markings regime that is appropriate for Canada, balancing the needs of law enforcement with the impact on firearms businesses and owners, while prioritizing public safety,” said the release.

History of delays

The regulations would have required domestically manufactured firearms to bear the name of the manufacturer, the 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.

The Trudeau Liberals promised to enact gun-marking regulations “immediately” after being elected in their 2015 platform. Instead, the government chose to defer them in May 2017 and again in Nov. 2018. The previous Conservative government also delayed the regulations several times since 2006.

Governments often cited the need for more consultation when deferring the regulations, although the last time they were deferred in 2018 the Liberals argued the destruction of the gun records contained the long-gun registry reduced the utility of the regulations.

Gun enthusiasts, hunters and sport shooters have, over the years, lobbied hard for each deferral and praised every delay.

They argued markings would do little to stop gun crime, given that many criminals already file serial numbers off their weapons. It is also widely believed that requiring markings would add to the manufacturing costs and therefore make firearms more expensive.

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