Timeline: Bill C-71 and Firearm Regulation

Timeline: Bill C-71 and Firearm Regulation

The Canadian Press/Chris Young

UPDATED March 27, 2018 9:19amET

The House of Commons considered the government’s new firearms bill on Monday. Debate was short, though, since MPs passed a Conservative motion to adjourn debate after less than an hour, citing their continued desire for a briefing on the India controversy by national security advisor Daniel Jean.

That followed last week’s voting marathon on estimates, which preempted debate planned for Friday.

Read Bill C-71 in full:

Here’s what Public Safety Minister told reporters last week after introducing the bill:

Watch Goodale’s full news conference, plus Conservative and NDP reaction, and gun control advocates.

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights voiced their concerns on Thursday.

Here’s a timeline of some key moments in Canadian licensing history:


The new Criminal Code requires pistol owners to possess a “certificate of exemption” to carry their weapon unless there is a fear of assault or injury. Sellers are required to record the date and purchaser’s name.


The government repeals the permit requirement for firearm possession — except for “aliens” — but carry permits are still required for pistols and handguns.


Handgun permits now need a reason such as self-protection or sport. Previously, Canadians needed to simply be of “discretion and good character.” Local police begin to keep records of firearm owners, their addresses, and firearms purchased.


Handguns must now be re-registered every five years — though the practice is delayed by the Second World War. Rifles and shotguns must be registered during wartime.


Firearm certificates are made indefinite, putting an end to the re-registration process.


The RCMP takes responsibility for handgun registration, which now includes automatic firearms. And all must have serial numbers.


The government creates the categories of “firearm,” “restricted weapon,” and “prohibited weapon.” Each restricted weapon must now have a separate registration certificate.


Bill C-51 includes requirements for Firearms Acquisition Certificates (FACs) — which are needed for shotguns and rifles — and new definitions for restricted and prohibited weapons. Fully automatic weapons are no longer eligible for new registration.


FAC applicants now require a photograph and two references, safety training, and more background information. The government also introduces a 28-day waiting period, new definitions for restricted and prohibited weapons, new regulations for dealers and safe storage, and new controls on high-power guns.


Bill C-68 creates the controversial long-gun registry, as all firearms including shotguns and rifles must now be registered. Also controversial is a new licensing system (PAL) for possession and acquisition, and the buying of ammunition, as of 2001.

Criminal Code penalties are increased for murder, kidnapping, and other crimes that involve a firearm.


Additional regulations pass on licensing fees and requirements, storage, record-keeping, transport, and adapted rules for Indigenous people.


The Supreme Court of Canada delivers a reference that concludes the 1995 bill (known as the Firearms Act) is within Parliament’s jurisdiction.


Canadians need a licence and registration certificate for all firearms, including non-restricted weapons.


Bill C-19 repeals the long-gun registry and orders the destruction of records.

The Quebec government goes to court to preserve registration records within that province.

Watch the Supreme Court hearing from October 2014:


Bill C-42 eliminates the Possession Only Licence (POL), allows a six-month grace period after a five-year licence expires, and requires first-time applicants to participate in the classroom during safety courses. Cabinet is given the authority to determine restricted and non-restricted firearms.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Canada rules against Quebec, and the records are destroyed.

The Liberal campaign platform calls for a repeal of several sections of Bill C-42, wider representation on the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, enhanced background checks, and other measures. But, a promise not to recreate the long-gun registry.


Firearms are used in about 37 per cent of Canada’s homicides, compared to 30 per cent in 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

Police report 141 gang-related homicides — close to two-thirds of the total number of homicides in Canada (223).

More than 25,000 firearms are seized, according to the Commissioner of Firearms’ annual report. Twenty per cent of those are restricted or prohibited.

By year’s end, there are 2.07 million Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) holders. About 2,200 licences are revoked, with court orders (i.e. probation) the top cited reason.

-Andrew Thomson