Unclear how firearm marking will help solve crime

Aug 26, 2015 By Matthew Friedberg
Toronto criminal lawyer Matthew Friedberg says Ottawa’s decision to delay its implementation of new regulations intended to help trace firearms is good as it isn’t clear how the new measures will help police solve crimes.

He says Canada should dispense with the plan altogether.

“It appears to be another layer of governmental bureaucracy that’s likely not going to serve its intended purpose,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The federal government quietly published a note July 29 deferring the firearm-marking regulations until June 1, 2017 – the seventh time Ottawa has delayed the measures, says the Canadian Press.

The new regulations, first drafted in 2004 and previously scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, would require that specific, identifiable markings be stamped on firearms.

The plan would require domestically manufactured firearms to bear the name of the manufacturer, serial number and ‘Canada’ or ‘CA,’ while imported guns would have to carry the ‘Canada’ or ‘CA’ designation along with the last two digits of the year of import, says the wire service.

Friedberg says the initiative is nothing more than window dressing for a government that’s keen to present itself as tough on gun crime.

The reality is, he says, the initiative doesn’t seem to provide a clear benefit for police to solve crimes.

“I just don’t see how this is going to help police solve crimes – guns already have serial numbers on them and firearms can be traced through that number,” he says. “I tend to agree with the naysayers. I’m just not sure how it’s going to serve its purpose.”

And as a result, the implementation of the firearm-marking regulations would be an unnecessary taxpayer cost, he says.

“Obviously, if it doesn't achieve its objectives, it’s not a good use of the public purse,” he says.

The National Firearms Association, which wants to see the plan scrapped, describes the notion that firearm markings could assist police in solving crime as "a rather unsubstantiated, blanket statement," says the Canadian Press.

The government’s recently published notice does acknowledge that the usefulness of the marking scheme is “diminished” by Ottawa’s move to get rid of the long-gun registry, "as it is helpful to be able to link the most recent legal owner to firearm markings," says the article.

The Public Safety Canada notice says the most recent delay will allow the government to continue consultations “with a broad range of stakeholders.”