Sudbury

Debate heating up on changing firearm licence rules

Firearm lobbyists say the battle over the gun registry may be over, but the gun control debate is just heating up. They are now going after the licensing system that came into effect with the registry 17 years ago.

Licence should not double as a permit Canadian Shooting Sports Association says

Brian Ramakko, who owns an outdoors store in Sudbury, said with the elimination of the gun registry he expects he'll hear more about hunting and less about politics. (Erik White/CBC)

Firearm lobbyists say the battle over the gun registry may be over, but the gun control debate is just heating up.

They are now going after the licencing system that came into effect with the registry 17 years ago.

"I think most guys at the gun counter will think it's over. Thank goodness," said Brian Ramakko, who owns an outdoors store in Sudbury.

But Tony Bernardo, one of Canada's most vocal gun advocate, disagrees.

"It's actually the beginning of the debate," he said.

Bernardo heads the Canadian Shooting Sports Association. He said the government also needs to rework the gun-licensing system.

"If you let your possession and acquisition licence expire, your licence isn't suspended like your drivers licence would be. You instantly, in one day, become a felon," he said.

That's because the licence acts as a permit — a permit to own a gun.

Bernardo said a licence should only be proof that you know how to handle a gun safely.

"Instead, [the licence] becomes a permit. Permission to break the king's laws. Because the law says all firearms in Canada are illegal unless you have this permit," Bernardo said.

Back in Sudbury, Ramakko said he hears very few complaints about gun licences. He expects the conversation at the gun counter will now turn from politics back to hunting.

It's now just a matter of time before the federal gun registry is eliminated. A vote in the Senate in the coming weeks will officially send documents on 7 million hunting rifles to the shredder.

More than 200,000 of those registered firearms are in Northeastern Ontario.

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