Nunavut signs up guns
Despite registering many unhappy with Firearms Act
Iqaluit ( Jun 12/00) - Nunavut is ahead of the pack when it comes to who is complying with the new federal Firearms Act.
According to data compiled by the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC), Nunavut has an estimated 6,600 firearms owners, of which 35 per cent have already filed applications to comply with the Jan. 1, 2001 licensing deadline.
"That is far better than many of the provinces and higher than the national average of 25 per cent," said David Austin, the deputy director of communications for the CFC.
"We are estimating there are 4,300 firearms owners left to register -- about 2,300 of them are new and the rest hold valid FACs (firearms acquisition certificates) which are good for five years,"
Despite the territory's progress, however, Inuit hunters feel Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.'s recent move to take legal action is a step in the right direction.
David Audlakiak is the secretary-manager of Iqaluit's Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association and he says he is in support of the birthright corporation's decision.
"Putting restraints and adding more firearms rules, that include buying bullets, puts a restriction on my livelihood," said Audlakiak, who grew up in Qikiqtarjuaq.
Audlakiak says he hunts on weekends to supplement his diet with country foods, as do many Inuit across Nunavut.
According to the Nunavut Land Claim agreement, an Inuk with proper identification may harvest up to his or her adjusted basic needs level without any license or permit and without imposition of any tax or fee.
Under the Firearms Act, a universal system of licensing applies for all gun users, owners and ammunition buyers. Registration of all guns is also mandatory by 2003.
At present the CFC is running a travelling federal program called the Outreach Initiative, which has already visited 12 Nunavut communities.
Teams of people have been going into each community, equipped with forms, tests, cameras and translators to guide residents through the process.
The CFC says each community will be visited by early fall, allowing enough time for applications to be submitted, processed and approved or denied.
NTI made the decision to take legal action at last month's board meeting in Pangnirtung.
1991-1994: Bill C-17 passed
Changes include: Firearms Acquisition Certification (FAC) system requires applicants to provide a photograph and two references, a mandatory 28-day waiting period for an FAC is imposed, as well as a safety course. More detailed screening of FAC applicants is also required.
Increased penalties for firearm-related crimes, new Criminal Code offenses, new definitions for prohibited and restricted weapons, new regulations for firearms dealers, clear regulations for the safe storage, handling and transportation of firearms also came into effect.
1995: Bill C-68 passed
The Firearms Act was created to take the administrative and regulatory aspects of the licensing and registration system out of the Criminal Code, a new licensing system to replace the FAC system was created and licences to possess and acquire firearms and to buy ammunition were introduced. Registration of all firearms was introduced.
The Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC) was given the task to develop the regulations, systems and infrastructure needed to implement the Firearms Act.
Proposed regulations included: all fees payable under the Firearms Act, licensing requirements for firearms owners, adaptations for aboriginal people.
The Firearms Act and regulations begin to be phased in starting Dec. 1, 1998.
By Jan. 1, 2001, all firearm owners and users will need a firearms licence. (A valid FAC is considered a licence.) To get a licence, every applicant will undergo a background safety check.
By Jan. 1, 2003, all firearms must be registered.