Section V – Special Chapter on Canada Firearms Centre

Canada Firearms Centre

In May 2006, the responsibility and administration of the Firearms Act, the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP), and the day-to-day operations of the Canada Firearms Centre (CAFC) were transferred to the RCMP. The Commissioner of the RCMP assumed the duties of Commissioner of Firearms and the CAFC became an operational service line under the direction of the Deputy Commissioner National Police Services (NPS). A transition initiative detailing specific transition activities was put in place to ensure minimal disruption to the program and will be completed by the end of 2007-2008.

The CAFC provides direct support to all domestic and international police services relative to firearms registration information and licensing of individuals and businesses. It provides police and other organizations with information and expertise vital to the prevention and investigation of firearms crime and misuse, both in Canada and internationally. This information helps distinguish between legal and illegal firearms, as well as lawful and unlawful owners. It also supports the interdiction of firearms trafficking. The CAFC works with the provinces and territories, with national organizations that have an ongoing interest in firearms safety, and with many firearms and hunter educational organizations across Canada in promoting safe storage, display, transportation and handling of firearms. In addition, the CAFC and Aboriginal peoples work together on projects at national, regional and local levels to deliver safety training, firearms verification, and assistance with the licensing and registration of firearms to Aboriginal and surrounding communities.

Mission

In harmony with the RCMP’s goal of safe homes and safe communities, the CAFC’s mission is to support police and other law enforcement organizations in enhancing public safety through the reduction and prevention of death, injury and threat from firearms. Through the CAFC, the RCMP will continue to develop and oversee an effective firearms registration and licensing system that will assist in the reduction of gun violence and meet the government’s principal obligations under the Firearms Act. The CFP is intended to reduce gun violence by:

  • Supporting federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies in preventing and investigating firearm crimes and incidents 
  • Controlling the acquisition, possession and ownership of firearms
  • Regulating certain types of firearms
  • Preventing the misuse of firearms

Mandate

The mandate for the CAFC is to enhance public safety by:

  • Helping reduce death, injury and threat from firearms through responsible ownership, use and storage of firearms
  • Providing police and other organizations with expertise and information vital to the prevention and investigation of firearms crime and misuse in Canada and internationally

Values

The RCMP will operate the Canadian Firearms Program in accordance with its core values, as well as the following:

  • Respect the lawful ownership and use of firearms in Canada and support firearm users with quality service, fair treatment and protection of confidential information
  • Recognize that the involvement of the provinces, other federal agencies, Aboriginal peoples, police organizations, firearm owners and users, safety instructors, verifiers, businesses and public safety groups is essential for effective program delivery and achieving success
  • Commit to ongoing improvement and innovation in order to achieve the highest levels of service, compliance, efficiency and overall effectiveness
  • Inform and engage the CFP’s clients and partners
  • Manage its resources prudently to provide good value for money, as well as clear and accurate reporting of program performance and resource management
  • Uphold the values and ethical standards of the Public Service of Canada and commit to fair staffing, employee development and a work environment that encourages involvement and initiative

Operating Environment

Due to the nature and intent of the program, the CFP operates in an environment of constant exposure and interaction with the public, and is therefore a subject of continuous review by parliamentary committees, the Canadian public, and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). As such, the CFP’s effectiveness and efficiency continue to be areas of primary concern and focus.

On May 17, 2006, the Minister of Public Safety announced a registration amnesty for certain individuals who are in possession of a non-restricted firearm without a valid licence or registration certificate. The Government introduced Bill C-24 (An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act [Non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted]), on November 16, 2007. This bill was also mentioned in the October 17, 2007 Speech from the Throne, indicating the government’s intentions to push forward quickly with the removal of non-restricted firearms from the Firearms Registry. The CAFC will continue to focus on preparing for and supporting the government’s initiatives by reviewing methodology and practices to address the impacts of this potential change in legislation.

In striving to achieve increased program efficiency and effectiveness, the CAFC will also continue to focus on the 2006 recommendations of the Auditor General (AG). Addressing the identified issues through an action plan will effectively improve service quality and client service, improve service provided to partners by improving systems and tools, increase the cost effectiveness of the program and satisfying public criticism, increase functionality and usefulness of the program, and allow the tools being used to more effectively ensure safety and security to the public. The CAFC will also focus on technological advancements and improvements to better serve its clients.

With the CAFC currently serving over two million Canadian firearms owners, maintaining quality programs and services is largely reliant on the level of engagement of partners and stakeholders. In support of the significant progress that has been made for this priority during the last reporting period, the CAFC will continue to develop and improve relationships with provincial and regional partners and stakeholders through its Strategic Engagement initiative. This initiative focuses on providing partners and stakeholders with an enlightened understanding of the program’s objective and role in improving public safety, and encouraging participation and support of the program. It will also improve overall program effectiveness by strengthening program support and increasing compliance.

Further to the Strategic Engagement initiative, the CFP also relies on the support of the public and communities. Therefore, the CAFC will continue to develop further awareness and understanding of the CFP through specific outreach activities that support the objectives of the Firearms Act and related legislation, as well as engage the public and communities to improve program compliance and increase the percentage of licence renewals, directly resulting in a reduction of overall program costs. The CAFC also intends on improving public awareness and value of the program through the development of an external communication strategy, as well as the development of a public and partners satisfaction data pool for future analysis and improvement.

Increasing program efficiency and effectiveness requires effective employee engagement. Being a national program with employees dispersed across the country, the CAFC will improve internal communications in order to disseminate meaningful information, such as updates on the progress and goals of the organization, and information on how to locate tools and resources. Therefore, in support of the internal communication initiatives and RCMP critical objectives, the CAFC will continue to further enhance internal communication to employees across the country.

The CAFC is also focused on enhancing human resources strategies by developing a Human Resources Plan. This initiative will permit the CAFC to be strategically prepared for forecasted activities that have a human resources impact on the program. The development of a strategic Human Resources Plan will also focus on attracting, developing and retaining employees, including a developmental and/or training aspect. A professional development section will allow employees to be further engaged and provide added value to the program through an increase in knowledge. This initiative will speak to all four 2008-2009 priorities.

Canadian Firearms Program

The Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) is a multi-departmental and multi-jurisdictional program for which the RCMP has lead responsibility. The core activities of the Program are shown in the chart below.

Effective delivery of the CFP depends upon partnerships involving the federal and provincial governments and law enforcement agencies. Federal partners such as Public Safety Canada (PSC), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) play a key role, as do the provincial Chief Firearms Officers (CFO). The CFOs both deliver the program and administer the decision-making and administrative work related to activities such as licensing, authorizations to transport and authorizations to carry firearms. They also designate instructors for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course.

Some provinces and territories chose not to administer the Firearms Act and subsequently, did not appoint a provincial CFO. As a result, these provinces and territories have a federally appointed CFO. Currently, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and the Yukon are administered by federally appointed CFOs, who are RCMP employees. The provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia administer the Firearms Act within their jurisdictions through a provincially appointed CFO. In the latter provinces, program operations are funded by the Government of Canada through contribution agreements entered into between the federal government and individual provinces. The RCMP continues to work with Aboriginal and other community organizations to further the understanding of, and compliance with, program requirements. These efforts are also funded through contribution agreements.

Designed to support the administration of the Firearms Act, a key component of the CFP is the Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS). The CFIS records, tracks and makes available specific firearms and licensed owner information to police agencies and other stakeholders. A link between CFIS, the Firearms Interest Police (FIP) reports, and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) provides timely information to CFOs making decisions about client licensing and continuous eligibility, as well as to police officers who are enforcing the Criminal Code. In 2006, events recorded in the FIP file of CPIC led to the refusal of 400 new firearms licence applications. It also prompted 15,789 investigations by firearms officers which, in turn, led to the revocation of 2,084 licences. A decision to refuse or revoke a firearms licence is made based on criteria identified in Section 5 of the Firearms Act, Eligibility to Hold Licences. These criteria include instances where the individual has been convicted of a violent offence or a drug related offence, has a history of violent behaviour, or is being treated for a mental illness.

The Canadian Firearms Registry On-line (CFRO), a subset of CFIS, is available to Canadian police agencies via CPIC and provides a useful tool to police officers when responding to calls and in performing investigations.

Enhancing public safety is of national importance, and thus concerns all Canadians. Certain federal departments and agencies, such as CBSA and DFAIT, are currently performing activities that directly support the Firearms Act. Funded through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), CBSA is responsible for administering elements of the CFP at Canada’s border crossings, while DFAIT is responsible for issuing import and export permits for firearms under the Export and Import Permits Act. The RCMP will continue efforts to develop and maintain valuable relationships with partners, clients and stakeholder groups.

Canadian Firearms Program

Risks, Challenges and Opportunities

The RCMP is committed to assisting the government in contributing to safe homes and safe communities. It will continue to build on successes and lessons learned to meet the CFP’s future risks, challenges and opportunities. Existing and future priorities of the CAFC will be aligned to its over-arching strategic outcome – “the risks to public safety from firearms in Canada and international communities are minimized” – in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Gun control is a sensitive area of public policy and administration, and opportunities to enhance understanding and participation must be recognized. While the vast majority of firearms owners renew their licence to carry or own a firearm, since 2001, 153,000 owners have allowed their licences to expire, yet are deemed to still be in possession of a firearm. These situations not only add an unnecessary burden to Canada’s police services, who are trying to efficiently make use of their available resources, but may in certain circumstances also pose a risk to public safety. Simple, easy to use forms, along with licence renewal reminders have made a positive impact on improving the rate at which clients renew licences thus far, but nevertheless require further improvement. The CAFC will continue to focus on developing other methods and initiatives for improving compliance through improved client service and communications.

The AG, in her May 2006 Status Report on the CFP, commented on data quality in CFIS. The quality of data gathered and maintained is of paramount importance for the CFP, the CAFC and stakeholders. As law enforcement partners increasingly rely on CFIS information to carry out their work, thereby improving officer safety and reducing risk to the public, the need for accurate and up-to-date information continues to grow. The CAFC is focusing on improving methods used to validate addresses, as recommended by the AG, and will continue to conduct its ongoing assessment of the quality of licence address and registration information. Dedicated efforts will be maintained to ensure that law enforcement partners understand the requirement for a high standard of data quality. The CAFC will continue to improve client service through the optimization of web-based transactions (i.e., online address changes, business-to-business or business-to-individual transfers). The continued use of web-based transactions will improve the quality of data gathered for clients, as well as reduce program costs associated with data correction. 

Plans and Priorities

The CAFC priorities for 2008-2009 are:

Alignment with government and organizational policies and priorities: The CAFC will proactively plan and effectively communicate with stakeholders and the public concerning policy, regulatory and legal changes.

Increasing program efficiency and effectiveness: The CAFC will continue to focus on the 2006 AG’s recommendations. By prioritizing initiatives around the identified issues, the CAFC will improve service delivery and client service, improve service to partners through better systems and tools, improve cost effectiveness of the program, and increase functionality and usefulness of the program. The CAFC will also focus on technological advancements and improvements to remain compatible with emerging technologies.

Promote employee engagement: The CAFC will further enhance internal communication strategies and develop a Human Resources Plan to assist in strategically attracting, developing and retaining employees across the country. The CAFC will focus on enabling employees to fully appreciate the value of their contributions to the accomplishments of the organization, thus contributing to increased employee engagement.

Strategic engagement of the public, partners and communities: The CAFC will develop further understanding and awareness of the CFP, as well as develop and improve relationships with the public, partners and stakeholders, through its strategic engagement initiative, and also through outreach and education initiatives. These will also support the objectives of the Firearms Act and related legislation, resulting in increased program compliance and reduction of overall program costs.

Alignment of CAFC Initiatives to RCMP Strategic Priorities

The CAFC supports the RCMP’s Strategic Priorities through the following initiatives:

Organized Crime: Working collaboratively with the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST), the CAFC assists with efforts to reduce the illicit trafficking of firearms supported by organized crime. The CAFC will have a greater operational support function and presence in organized crime investigations where firearms are involved, particularly through the CFIS and the CFRO/CPIC interface.

Terrorism: The CAFC is an active player in cross-border issues as they relate to firearms, including the Cross Border Crime Forum. It supports Canada’s efforts at the United Nations and works with Interpol to combat the illicit trafficking in small arms. Canada is recognized globally for its firearm controls and the Canada Firearms Program.

Youth: The CAFC promotes the safe storage and handling of firearms for all gun owners and users, with a special emphasis on youth, by actively pursuing initiatives to introduce firearms safety education and awareness programs for schools.

Aboriginal Communities: The CAFC collaborates on a variety of projects which support Aboriginal communities. With the CAFC’s support, the Red Sky Métis Independent Nation provides a range of firearms outreach services, including safety training, to Métis and First Nations people in Northwestern Ontario. A number of Treaty 6 First Nations in Alberta have undertaken a unique initiative to implement firearm safety education in the on-reserve school curriculum while, with financial support from the CAFC, the Assembly of First Nations has disseminated firearms-related information at public gatherings as a way to educate community members and leaders in the Northwest Territories. The CAFC continues to identify valued initiatives around Aboriginal communities and to strengthen existing and new partnerships.

Results and Performance Framework


Strategic Goal

The risks to public safety from firearms in Canada and international communities are minimized.

Expected Results and Indicators

Expected Results

  • Prevent access to firearms for those who are known to pose a threat to public safety
  • Operational information made available for policing and law enforcement purposes
  • Safe use and storage of firearms
  • Increased understanding and knowledge of program requirements by clients and stakeholders

Performance Indicators

  • Number of known “at-risk” individuals who are revoked/prohibited from possession of firearms
  • Number of queries to the firearms database used by front line police (CFRO); affidavits produced
  • Number of participants in safety courses
  • Compliance rates for licence renewals and/or new owners
Activities and Outputs
Firearms Registration Firearms Licensing and Supporting Infrastructure
Activities:

Effective administration of the Firearms Act

Outputs:
  • Registrations and transfers completed in a effective and efficient manner
  • Increased awareness of program benefits to public safety
Activities:

Program compliance is supported by effective public awareness activities

Outputs:
  • Improve compliance and renewal rate for licences
  • Increased awareness of the program benefits to public safety
  • Continuous eligibility monitoring is maintained
Efficient, client-centered services and streamlined processes are in place
  • Use of technology to improve client service for registration and other online and telephone enquiries
  • Data quality and integrity improved through use of technology
Program is supported and enforced by Canadian law enforcement agencies
  • Continued strategic engagement of partners and key stakeholders through regular in person visits
  • Year in year increase in the number of queries to the firearms database used by front line police (CFRO)
  • Continued emphasis on safety training, including direct delivery of courses in Aboriginal/northern communities
Border control of firearms is supported by effective monitoring mechanisms
  • Non-resident declarations
  • Interdiction of firearms illegally entering Canada
Innovative and effective program management and enhancement
  • Implementation of appropriate technology for improved client service
  • Increased employee engagement through improved internal communications

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