A new federal registry will begin in 2018, and the first licences for licensed owners will be issued next spring, as Canada moves towards a “single-use” firearms system.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the system will “take the pressure off the people who are in harm’s way and keep people safe.”
The federal government will allow individuals to purchase a firearm without a permit for “use as an individual or as a part of a group,” and individuals can carry a firearm concealed on their person for self-defence only if they meet the “reasonable restrictions” of the firearm.
Those restrictions will include having a gun licence, being a licensed dealer, and having a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The rules for firearm purchases will also be relaxed.
Under the new system, licensed owners can keep a gun in their home, at a range or in a vehicle.
Those who do not have a licence will be required to notify the government if they have any firearms in their possession.
A licence holder will also need to carry proof of identity with them when they travel to any jurisdiction, and a gun must be kept at a safe distance from people.
“We don’t want to see people who have no idea how to handle firearms in our communities,” said Goodale, who said the registry will not require a background check, a requirement of the Canadian Firearms Licensing System (CFSL).
“I think the idea of having an individual’s name and address and a photograph, I think that is a lot easier for the government to do a background checking on.”
The Canadian Firearms Survey (CFS) is an annual survey conducted by Statistics Canada that has been collecting data on gun ownership and use since 1999.
In 2017, the latest year for which Statistics Canada has figures, only 9 per cent of Canadians reported owning a firearm, according to the most recent survey.
The survey also found that people aged 15 to 24 were most likely to be gun owners, with 17 per cent saying they had owned a firearm in the previous year.
Those ages 25 to 34 were the least likely age group to be armed with a firearm.
But the CFS report also showed that the overall number of Canadians who owned a gun fell from a peak of 16 per cent in 2014 to just 3.3 per cent last year.
“As the number of people with guns has increased, so has the number who have killed themselves, and this is a clear reflection of that,” Goodale told The Globe.
“It’s an issue of self-preservation and of people being able to defend themselves against their own friends and family.”
The report also revealed that the most common reason for a suicide in Canada was “unrealistic expectations” related to owning a gun.
“Suicides and unintentional injuries by firearms are a growing problem in Canada,” Goodal said.
“A gun is one of the most lethal weapons on the planet, and we need to be mindful of the impact that guns can have on the lives of others.”