Thanks to new regulations regarding the sale and transfer of firearms, Yukon businesses dealing in guns are now grappling with the longer paper trails the new rules oblige them to create.
The firearm regulations were passed by a federal government order-in-council at the end of April and went into effect May 18. It contains new rules for record-keeping in the purchase or sale of all firearms, and for the verification of firearms licenses.
Logan Rutledge, the store manager at Hougens Sports Lodge, recieved the new rules and changes to the conditions of their firearm business license in the mail.
The notice of changes to the store’s Firearms Business License Conditions states they must record a variety of information above and beyond what they were currently recording and maintain those records for 20 years. The changes state they must track the manufacturer, make, model, type, action, gauge or calibre, barrel length and magazine capacity as well as serial numbers of all firearms in the store’s inventory.
Along with recording their inventory, firearms businesses must submit electronic records to the RCMP firearms program anytime a gun is bought, sold or otherwise transferred. Records must also be kept when businesses take firearms in for repairs and alterations or for storage and consignment. Each sale or other transaction gets its own reference number and Rutledge said the process resembles the system for tracking transfers of handguns and other restricted firearms. Those transaction records and other files would have to be turned over to the RCMP if the store that kept them were to go out of business.
Rutledge said the arrival of the changes to business license conditions left him and the rest of the staff at the Sports Lodge little time to make adjustments and get in compliance before the regulations took effect. He said one staff member worked the whole week cataloguing the newly-required details about the store’s inventory.
The tracking of transactions also applies to private firearm sales between individuals. Gunsmiths will have to record and report all the same information for every firearm they work on.
Rutledge said he and the rest of the staff at the sporting goods store are always careful about checking the expiry dates of firearms licenses and have certainly turned people away when they lacked the necessary credentials. He acknowledged the rare and unlikely situation in which a license could be revoked yet the card was still in possession of the licensee, and that the new system would prevent that kind of sale. Before the regulations came into effect, the store kept records of serial numbers that were in stock, and Rutledge said they had been happy to assist with investigations into stolen firearms.
Rutledge said that if there were computer problems, either at the store or on the RCMP firearm program’s end, it would leave them temporarily unable to sell firearms in compliance with the new regulations.
In the days prior to the new regulations coming into effect, Rutledge said he saw a significant spike in firearms sales. He added that many customers in the store, both before and after the new regulations came into effect, were unaware of the changes and had to be told by store staff.
“It looks like they are pushing to control private firearms owners who have been proven time and time again to not be the problem,” Rutledge said.
The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights is referring to the regulations contained in the order-in-council as a dereliction of the Liberal government’s 2015 promise to not reinstate a long gun registry.
Government representatives have contested the characterization of the new regulations as a registry. Information provided through the federal government’s public safety branch draws a distinction between the new rules and the registry that Canada had in place from 1995 to 2012. Public Safety Canada states the difference is that records are held through businesses rather than directly by the government — law enforcement would require reasonable grounds and possibly authorization from a judge to access them.
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