Changes to the Firearms Act

On June 18, the Royal Assent of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act amended the Canadian Firearms Act and Criminal Code.

  • Jul. 6, 2015 3:00 p.m.


Arrow Lakes News

On June 18, the Royal Assent of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act amended the Canadian Firearms Act and Criminal Code effectively imposing significant changes with Bill C-42. Highlights of these changes include the immediate requirement for first-time firearm license applicants to complete the firearms safety course, the gradual elimination of all Possession only Licenses (POL), and the conversion of all existing valid POL’s to Possession and Acquisition Licenses (PAL) within the next few months.

Possession Only and Possession and Acquisition licenses were brought about in 1994 and were intended to be eventually phased-out in favor of a single licensing system. The creation of two separate licenses was deemed necessary at the time of implementation to accommodate those Canadians who have guns in the house but do not engage with them for sport or recreation. These guns were often heirlooms that were either inherited or collected by aficionados.

Under the terms of Bill C-42 those who have current, updated POL licenses will soon find themselves upgraded to PAL once the official conversion date has been set by an order in council. This conversion will take place without the completion of the firearm safety course.

Dorian Boswell, a local certified firearm safety instructor, was instrumental in the design of the safety course and says Bill C-42 poses significant changes to the licensing process.

“The system has changed a lot over the years, but there hasn’t been anything this significant. The original POL was kind of a band-aid on long-arm registration and was intended to be transitioned so that everyone would eventually be on PALs, and now, 20 years later, they are finally making it happen,” Boswell said.

Boswell has been teaching the firearms safety course around the Kootenays for many years and views it as a service to the local community. However, with the new requirement of mandatory course participation by new license applicants, he is concerned about the logistics of course delivery in communities that do not have local certified instructors.

“I have the resources to provide this service, so I should be doing it, I feel obligated to do it because I am part of this community,” Boswell said, “but now that the course is mandatory and people are no longer allowed  to challenge the test, its going to be hard for the government because they will need instructors in every community to deliver the course.”

The RCMP has more information about the amendments and can be accessed through their website at


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