Firearm Violence Prevention Act (FVPA)

The Firearm Violence Prevention Act (FVPA) received Royal Assent on March 25, 2021 and is anticipated to be brought into force by regulation in 2022. 

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
  • Introducing measures to deter gang members from using shooting ranges
  • Creating an authority to impound 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 under 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Are all the requirements from the Firearm Act (BC) being repealed?

While the existing Firearm Act (BC) is being repealed, a number of provisions from the Firearm Act have been modernized and incorporated into the FVPA.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
  • Peace officers are authorized 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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. airsoft guns) and imitation firearms are not subject to federal restrictions.

Schools and other types of designated properties have relied on policies to ban all 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 (e.g. providing 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 apply to low-velocity firearms (e.g., 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 (section 5(2))

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 require shooting ranges to be staffed?

The FVPA does not make it necessary for shooting ranges to have staff on duty. At unstaffed ranges, record keeping requirements can be satisfied by establishing a system that allows shooting range users to record their own information (e.g., a virtual logbook or physical drop box).

There are no requirements to check the firearms licences or identification of range users at unstaffed shooting ranges.

Will the FVPA prevent people from using a shooting range if they do not have a firearms licence?

The FVPA is not intended to prevent individuals who do not have a firearms licence from using shooting ranges. The requirement to produce a firearms licence only applies to range users who have a firearms licence and are using non-restricted, prohibited or restricted firearms.

Individuals who do not have a firearms licence can continue to use the range under the supervision of a licensed range user or a range operator.

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.

I have concerns about municipal handgun bans, who should I contact?

On February 16, 2021, the federal government announced the introduction of Bill C-21.

Bill C-21 includes measures to enhance gun control in Canada, such as:

  • Supporting municipalities that choose to restrict handgun storage and transportation
  • Establishing “red and yellow flag” regimes to remove or limit the use of firearms by individuals who may pose a threat to themselves or others
  • Increasing criminal penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking

As Bill C-21 is a federal initiative, concerns about these proposed measures can be directed to the Honourable Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as follows:

Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON  K1A 0P8

Email: ps.ministerofpublicsafety-ministredelasecuritepublique.sp@canada.ca