By Will be Writethru, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms inventory and sales for at least 20 years under government legislation introduced today.
The proposed measure — part of a wide-ranging firearms bill tabled in the House of Commons — is intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes.
The legislation would also require purchasers of rifles and shotguns to present a valid licence.
In addition, the bill would expand the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire a gun. Instead of just the five years immediately preceding a licence application, personal history questions would cover a person’s entire lifetime.
While crime rates in Canada have generally been declining for more than two decades, offences involving firearms have become more prevalent, especially since 2013, the government notes. “Gun-related homicides, domestic and gender-based violence involving guns, criminal gang activity and gun thefts are all up significantly.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has already earmarked more than $327 million over five years and $100 million a year thereafter, to address criminal gun and gang activities.
The government says the legislative proposals emphasize public safety and effective police work, while respecting law-abiding firearms owners.
However, the Liberals expect political pushback from the Conservatives, as the bill would repeal measures passed by the previous government.
For instance, it would roll back some automatic authorizations to transport restricted and prohibited firearms, such as handguns and assault weapons. Under the bill, owners would need a permit to transport such guns, except when taking them to a shooting range or home from a store.
The bill also proposes restoring the authority of RCMP experts to classify firearms without political influence.