Canada Defers Gun-Import Restrictions to Avoid Hurting Industry — The Canadian government postponed gun-import restrictions that threaten to cripple the shooting industry so it can clarify the so-called Firearms Marking Regulations and avoid “undue constraints” on gun owners and companies.

The regulations were delayed for two years until Dec. 1, 2020, from Dec. 1 this year, the Ministry of Public Safety said today on its website. It’s the second deferral by the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since he was elected in 2015 and the ninth since the text was adopted in 2004.

‘Catastrophic Damage’

The UN-inspired Firearms Marking Regulations say guns entering or made in Canada must be stamped or engraved with “Canada” or “CA” and the last two digits of the year, such as “CA18.”

It would mean marking the same code onto roughly 350,000 firearms imported each year, corresponding to almost every gun sold in the country.

The Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, the main industry group, said two years ago the cost and complexity of the rules as written will cause “catastrophic damage” to thousands of small businesses. It found compliance would require $100,000 engraving machines and an expensive logistical overhaul.

Read: Gun Industry Faces Turmoil, Costs as UN Marking Deadline Nears

No ‘Undue Constraints’

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association and the industry group have repeatedly urged the government to clarify, modify or scrap the measures.

“The Government is continuing work to develop an effective markings regime that enables law enforcement to effectively trace crime guns, without imposing undue constraints or costs on firearms owners and businesses,” the Ministry of Public Safety said in today’s statement.

The marking regulations say how, when and where the marks must be applied, such as their minimum and maximum depth, where on the gun they must be placed, and whether guns can be marked before or after they cross the border.

UN Firearms Protocol

But even experts disagree on how to interpret the text. They also don’t know how the plan will be enforced or what the penalties will be for non-compliance.

Many gun companies have faced costs or disruptions to prepare for the new policy, most have ignored it.

Canada adopted the regulations in 2004 to help authorities trace international gun shipments as part of the United Nations Firearms Protocol against illegal trade.

Many Flaws

Critics say it would be smarter to invest in policies to prevent crime instead of chasing crime tools after the fact.

Having 350,000 imported guns marked with the same code each year won’t help with tracing. It also leaves out guns made in Canada in illegal workshops today, or on 3D printers tomorrow.

Real or Fake?

Assuming the markings are authentic, the extra complexity, difficulty and expense will be a waste. Police and businesses can already track guns through their entire supply chain in less than a minute with two phone calls because manufacturers mark firearms with the make, model, country of origin and a unique serial number.

If it’s easy and cheap to mark the guns, smugglers and traffickers will be able to apply fake codes.

Pre-Deadline Turmoil

The gun industry has faced turmoil over how to comply with the policy. Importers accelerated or cancelled shipments to steer clear of the previous June 1, 2017, deadline and avoid the risk of financial or legal charges.

Read: Gun Imports Jump as Industry Aims to Avoid Crisis From New Rules

Four successive governments had deferred the regulations eight times before today.

The current Liberal Party government of Trudeau first delayed them in May 2017, less than two weeks before they were to take effect.

The Liberals said during the 2015 election campaign that they would “immediately implement the imported gun marking regulations that have been repeatedly delayed by Stephen Harper,” the Conservative former prime minister.


Ministry of Public Safety

Correction 10 Nov. 11:00 Toronto time: Corrects to show regulations also apply to firearms made in Canada.