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Gun-marking regs delayed yet again

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OTTAWA—The federal government is delaying implementation of regulations intended to help police trace crime guns—the seventh time it has put off the measures.

Just days before the federal election call, the government quietly published a notice deferring the firearm-marking regulations until June 1, 2017.

The measures would require specific, identifiable markings be stamped on firearms.

They had been slated to take effect Dec. 1 of this year.

The July 29 notice from Public Safety Canada says the delay will allow the government to continue consultations “with a broad range of stakeholders”—despite six previous delays in enacting the regulations, first drafted in 2004.

Public Safety spokeswoman Zarah Malik did not make anyone available for an interview about the latest delay.

The regulations would require domestically-manufactured firearms to bear the name of the manufacturer, serial number, and “Canada” or “CA.”

Imported guns would have to carry the “Canada” or “CA” designation, along with the last two digits of the year of import.

The measures would help Canada meet the requirements of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and a convention of the Organization of American States.

There is support among police for the marking scheme to expedite investigations into gun crimes and detect firearms trafficking, smuggling, and stockpiling, the Public Safety notice says.

The import markings also can help law enforcement determine whether to focus on a smuggling operation.

Some firearms advocates have argued the obligation to mark imported guns would mean acquiring marking technology or making arrangements for another company to apply markings, with an estimated cost of $200 per gun, the notice says.

However, an independent study commissioned by the government said the cost to stamp or engrave markings for Canadian manufacturers and large importers would range from nothing at all to $25 per firearm.

It was not possible to gauge the impact on individuals and small importers.

During the latest deferral period, the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee—appointed by the public safety minister to provide advice—expressed support for “having fewer marking requirements” in the planned regulations.

But the Coalition for Gun Control says marking is an essential tool for enforcement, helping states in their efforts to trace weapon flows and preventing the diversion of legal guns to the illegal market.

“Given the problems with smuggled guns internationally and on the streets of Canadian cities, it is, of course, disappointing that the Canadian government has once again delayed implementing this critical set of measures,” said coalition president Wendy Cukier.

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