The province is introducing new legislation to give illegal gun owners fewer options to buy, transport and own real and imitation firearms. The Firearm Violence Prevention Act (Bill 4), if passed, will implement recommendations from an Illegal Firearms Task Force.
Bill 4 will stop the sale of imitation and low velocity guns to youth and make it illegal for them to fire or display these weapons anywhere a provincial, federal, First Nations or municipal law prohibits discharging firearms, according to the province.
The legislation will penalize drivers who transport illegal firearms and authorize police to impound vehicles used to transport illegal guns. It will also prohibit people from having real or imitation firearms in specific locations, such as schools and hospitals.
“We are putting expert advice into practice to reduce shootings related to gangs and the drug trade. These new measures targeting illegal and imitation firearms will give police additional tools and help make our communities safer,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general. He also recognized most firearm owners in B.C. are law-abiding and these changes will only affect those who are not.
The province said Bill 4 will also strengthen existing laws around armoured vehicles, body armour and aftermarket compartments criminals typically install in their vehicles to hide and transport illegal firearms and drugs. The proposed legislation will allow government to collect fingerprints from people applying for armoured vehicle and body armour permits, to verify the results of criminal record checks. It will also prohibit installing aftermarket compartments.
“Denying criminals access to these weapons, as well as further regulating armoured vehicles, body armour and aftermarket compartments, are key steps in enhancing public safety,” said Dwayne McDonals, BC RCMP criminal operations – federal, investigative services and organized crime.