Welcome back to part two of the Canadian firearms control walk through history. Last post we made it from pre 1892 the whole way into 1934, let’s continue on throughout history.
In 1938 handgun owners had to re-register their weapons every five years. At this point in time guns did not require serial numbers, but it was a criminal offense to alter or deface the numbers in any way. The mandatory sentence for this crime was two years. It was also during this time that the minimum age to possess a firearm went from 12 years up to 14 years. They also created the first “minor’s permit” during this time, and this is what allowed 14 year old access to guns.
1939-1944 was the year when the re-registration process was put on hold due to World War II. The only guns that had to be registered during this point were rifles and shotguns. This only lasted until the war was over of course.
1947 brought more Criminal Code changes, dealing in matters of “constructive murder” were expanded to include any case where death was a result from the possession or use of any weapon even if the offender didn’t mean to kill the victim.
When the 1950’s hit the Criminal Code was again amended, this time to say that firearm owners did not have to renew their registration certificates. Instead the certificates became valid indefinitely.
Enter 1951 as well as the centralized registry for handguns. This central registry was under the watcheye of the Commissioner of the RCMP for the first time in history. During this year automatic weapons were added to the category of firearms that had to be registered. Firearms also had to have serial numbers at this time.
The control rules stayed pretty much the same again for a few years until 1968 and 1969 when there were categories created for firearms, categories such as “firearm,” restricted weapon,” and “prohibited weapon.” This creation ended confusion over specific weapons and allowed the creation of specific legislative controls for each category.
Bill C-83 was introduced in 1976. The bill proposed new offences and stricter consequences for criminal misuse of any firearm. This also restricted the possession and use of fully automatic firearms. The bill proposed a licensing system that required those less than 18 years of age to get a license to possess or purchase a firearm and ammunition. While the bill was introduced it was also shut down and not approved in July 1976.
However, in 1977 Bill C-51 was passed in the House of Commons. This bill would include the requirements for Firearms Acquisition Certificates as well as requirements for Firearms and Ammunition Business Permits. This is also when Chief Firearms Officer positions were introduced in the provinces for the first time. There were other changes that came with this Bill as well. Changes like search and seizure powers, increased penalties, as well as new ways to define prohibited and restricted weapons.
In 1980 Bill C-80 was proposed and quickly shot down, however many of the things in Bill C-80 would go into Bill C-17 which will be passed in the future.
Don’t forget to come back and join us for our third and final part in this series on Canadian Firearms control.