Even Paranoids Have Enemies: The Canadian Firearm Marking Caper


There is a proposed regulation to the Firearms Act that is currently flying under the radar but which is very dangerous to Canadian firearm owners.

The regulation that deals with Firearms Marking Regulations was originally laid before Parliament in June of 2003, had a period of consultation, apparently had some re-write and then was to come into force in April 2006.  This never happened but apparently is now slated to be ratified in December of this year.

What the regulation would do is make it a requirement that every firearm being imported into Canada be marked, in addition to the normal stampings of a serial number and the name of the manufacturer, with a permanent stamp or engraving on the frame or receiver with the word “Canada” or “CA” plus the last two digits of the year of importation. It is also specific on the depth and height of the stamp and visibility.

Now if you say this fast you may not think that it would cause any problems to gun owners, dealers and importers in Canada. The truth is that if this regulation is put into effect it will have a major effect on gun ownership in Canada.

The reason has everything to do with the problems that manufacturers and importers will have implementing this procedure and the size of the Canadian firearms’ market compared to the US domestic market.

A manufacturer such as Browning builds its firearms offshore and then ships them into Utah for North American distribution. From a practical point of view it would be difficult or impossible for Browning to pre-stamp their firearms for Canadian consumption. The scenario would probably the same for Beretta, which also handles the Sako and Tikka lines. This means that specialized equipment would have to be acquired by the Canadian importers of these firearms in order to comply with the Canadian regulation.

The first possibility is that the cost of acquiring the necessary equipment may be too expensive to justify complying considering the size of the Candian firearms market and so the importer just withdraws from the scene and those firearms no longer come into Canada. The second possibility is that the importer buys the machinery in order to comply and simply passes the cost along to the consumer. It has been estimated that this will add around $200 to the cost of a firearm.

The other concern is that the North American manufacturers will look at the size of the Canadian market – which is minor compared to even the State of California – and the cost and trouble with complying and simply limit or stop their shipments to Canada. And even if they do decide to comply with the marking regulations and work through the inherent problems there will be the inevitable increase in price.

One thing it would certainly do is stop any individual purchases of firearms directly from the United States. Everything would have to come through commercial importers who had ramped up to comply with the stamping provisions.

Why is this regulation being pushed forward? The bureaucratic answer is that they want to comply with a program adopted by the United Nations in December 2005. Which would mean that Canada was in the process of leading the charge over 2 years before adoption by the UN General Assembly.

However, as the Canadian bureaucracy is wont to do, they have taken the UN directive and made it even more restrictive for domestic use.

The UN directive says that at the time of manufacture the firearm should be marked with the name of the manufacturer, the country of manufacture and the serial number and that adding such additional information as the year of manufacture, weapon type or model and caliber be encouraged. All of this is currently being done by North American manufacturers with the possible exception of the year of manufacture and this can be easily ascertained from the company’s manufacturing records.

The wording that appears to be driving this Canadian regulation is the statement in the UN paper which says that the firearm must “require to the extent possible appropriate simple marking on each imported small arm …… permitting identification of the country of import and, where possible, the year of import and enabling the competent authorities of that country to trace the small arm …..; and require a unique marking if the small arm …….. does not already bear such a marking”.

But such a marking would give no useful information to police departments other than the fact that the firearms had come through an importer and had been duly stamped. They would still have to go back to the manufacturer and get the info they needed regarding where it had been sold, etc.

You could write this off as more bureaucratic mishandling and probably there are people involved in writing the Canadian regulations that truly don’t understand the ramifications of these proposed rules. But you can rest assured that there those who are involved that know exactly what they are doing and what the end result will be and that suits their agenda just fine.

Regardless, this is an extremely important issue which deserves a strong reaction from Canadian firearm owners.

As the heading says: Even paranoids have enemies!

And we have a few alive and well in the federal bureaucracy.


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