The federal government has been looking at changes that would allow authorities to more quickly identify people considered unfit to have guns for reasons such as mental instability or violent behaviour, an internal memo shows.
The number of firearm-related homicides in Canada hit 223 in 2016 — up 44 from 2015, and the third consecutive annual increase. There were 141 gang-related homicides in 2016, 45 more than the previous year. Meantime, break-and-enters to steal guns have been rising.
Government is planning to introduce legislation in coming weeks to fulfil platform promises on firearms including a requirement for “enhanced background checks” for anyone seeking to buy a handgun or other restricted gun.It is also preparing legislation to strengthen controls on the movement, licensing and tracing of firearms — measures that would repeal some elements of a bill passed by the previous Conservative government.
The federal memo, released under the Access to Information Act, indicates the government could go further, beefing up screening of those who already have guns “by allowing authorities to reassess licence eligibility in a more timely fashion.”
Keeping guns out of the wrong hands is just one of the issues to be debated at a national meeting on gun and gang violence in Ottawa today that will include members of government, law enforcement, academia, community organizations and big-city mayors.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has convened the meeting as statistics reveal troubling trends.
The memo, intended to generate discussion among committee members, also cites a Quebec law that requires people working at childcare facilities, schools and shooting clubs to report such behaviour to police.
Canada has a strong firearms regime, and there is room to improve it while avoiding divisive politics, said Matthew Dube, the NDP public safety critic.