Firearm Violence Prevention Act (FVPA)
The Firearm Violence Prevention Act (FVPA) received Royal Assent on March 25, 2021.Work is currently underway to develop accompanying regulations. Once complete, both the FVPA and its regulations will be brought into force.
The FVPA responds to recommendations made by subject matter experts in the 2017 Illegal Firearms Task Force Report to address gang and gun violence.
What does the FVPA do?
The FVPA targets gang and gun violence by:
- Regulating low-velocity firearms that are capable of causing serious bodily injury and imitation firearms that could reasonably be mistaken for actual firearms
- Establishing new offences for unsafe use of firearms, low-velocity firearms and imitation firearms
- Prohibiting firearms, low-velocity firearms, and imitation firearms in designated places, including schools, post-secondary institutions, courts, places of worship, hospitals, and property used to provide child care for which a licence is required under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act
- Authorizing the impoundment of motor vehicles used to illegally transport firearms or flee from police
- Providing civil liability protection to specified professionals who report the potential for firearm violence by an individual to the police
- Strengthening aspects of the Body Armour Control Act and Armoured Vehicle and After-Market Compartment Control Act
Isn’t the regulation of firearms under federal jurisdiction?
The regulation of firearms is an area of shared jurisdiction between the federal and provincial governments. Various provincial laws including the Firearm Act (BC), Community Charter and Wildlife Act regulate the use of firearms.
The FVPA enhances public safety in BC by closing gaps in federal laws respecting firearms. For example, low-velocity firearms that are capable of causing serious bodily injury and imitation firearms that could reasonably be mistaken for actual firearms are largely unregulated by federal law. The FVPA addresses this gap.
Are all the requirements from the Firearm Act (BC) being repealed?
While the existing Firearm Act (BC) is intended to be repealed, a number of provisions from the Firearm Act have been modernized and incorporated into the FVPA. Provisions from the Firearm Act that have been incorporated into the FVPA include:
- Requirement for a person who is in possession or control of a firearm to exercise care for the safety of other persons or property
- Prohibition on discharging, carrying or possessing a firearm with live ammunition in a vehicle
- Authorization for peace officers to
- Conduct warrantless searches of persons and vehicles suspected of possessing a firearm in contravention of the legislation
- Seize and dispose of firearms possessed or used in contravention of the legislation
- Require that persons in possession of firearms present them for inspection (see section 90 of the Wildlife Act)
- Inspect firearms found in vehicles and boats (see section 90 of the Wildlife Act)
Are firearms not already prohibited in designated properties such as schools and hospitals?
Prior to the FVPA, no law explicitly prohibited firearms from these types of properties.
The federal Firearms Act limits where restricted (for example, most handguns) and prohibited firearms (e.g., automatic rifles) can be possessed, stored, and transported. These restrictions largely prevent restricted and prohibited firearms from being lawfully possessed on designated properties. Non-restricted firearms (e.g., shotguns), low-velocity firearms (for example, airsoft guns) and imitation firearms are not subject to similar federal restrictions.
Many schools and other types of designated properties have relied on policies to ban firearms from their properties.
The FVPA explicitly prohibits all firearms from designated properties and provides police and law enforcement with new tools to address the risk to public safety posed by firearms on these properties.
Please note that regulatory exemptions from this general prohibition are being considered. Regulatory exemptions under the FVPA are intended to mitigate impacts on lawful firearm activities that do not represent a risk to public safety (for example, the provision of firearms safety courses).
How will the FVPA impact hunting?
The FVPA is not intended to limit the lawful activities of hunters in BC.
The existing Firearm Act contains prohibitions on transporting loaded firearms and discharging firearm from vehicles. The FVPA has modernized these restrictions to also apply to low-velocity firearms (for example, airguns) and to clarify that these restrictions apply in boats. The FVPA makes the following provisions for hunters:
- Establishes a new regulatory power under the Wildlife Act to provide for hunting-related exemptions from the prohibitions on transporting loaded firearms and discharging firearms from vehicles and boats (e.g., to allow waterfowl hunting from non-motorized boats) (section 101)
- Wildlife Act disabled hunting permits can continue to exempt the permit holder from prohibitions on transporting loaded firearms and discharging firearms from vehicles (section 95)
- The restriction on discharging firearms from vehicles and boats must be construed in accordance with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
The prohibition in the FVPA on transporting non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited firearms in a vehicle only applies if the firearm is being illegally transported. A firearm is being illegally transported if none of the occupants of the vehicle are authorized under federal law to possess the firearm or if the firearm is not being transported in accordance with federal law.
Will the FVPA limit other lawful firearm activities?
The FVPA was designed with the intent of providing reasonable and necessary exemptions from the prohibitions in the Act by regulation. These regulatory exemptions are intended to mitigate impacts of the FVPA on lawful firearm owners and activities that do not represent a risk to public safety.