The Chronicle-Journal - Thunder Bay, Ontario
The Northwest
Page A4
Saturday, May 6, 2000

Federal gun regulations offer alternative

By Bryan Meadows - The Chronicle-Journal

Veteran hunters and sport shooters in Ontario who plan to purchase firearms in the future have an alternative to taking the Canadian Firearms Course and exam.

People who legally owned firearms as of Jan. 1, 1979, and continue to do so, can apply for alternate certification for a possession and acquisition licence, OPP Sgt. Doug Carlson confirmed yesterday.

Carlson said the option was always in the Canadian Firearms Act, but up until recently the province didn't have a process in place to handle applicants.

Ann Sharman, policy and communications officer with the Ontario Firearms Office, said that people can call the firearms office at 1-800-731-4000 (ext. 7503) to obtain an application for alternate certification.

The application asks people to list the types of firearms owned, the firearm activities engaged in, the training taken and whether they have been prohibited from owning a firearm.

After the firearms office reviews the application, Sharman said the person is called by telephone and asked a series of questions.

"The questions are about basic safe handling and storage of firearms, and on the Canadian Firearms Act," she said, noting applicants are sent the results of the test later by mail.

Both Sharman and Carlson recommend people "brush up on" the Canadian Firearms Safety Act and study the course materials before applying.

It's believed few hunters were aware of the alternate certification until last week when an Ontario Out of Doors article suggested the option to obtaining a possession and acquisition licence.

"Up until then we (processed) about 10 applications for alternate certification. . . Since last week we've received 150," Sharman said, adding that option isn't for everyone.

"It's for people with fairly extensive knowledge of firearms," she said.

Meanwhile deadlines are looming on federal gun control legislation.

A gun owner must have a firearm licence or valid Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) to legally possess a firearm as of Jan. 1, 2001.

If people now have a valid FAC, they don't need a new firearms licence until it expires, say provincial firearm officials.

Those people without an FAC should apply for a firearms licence at least six months before the Dec. 31 deadline so that they're not without a valid licence.

The two types of licences available, according to the Canadian Firearms Centre's web site, are:

A person can't register firearms without first holding either a firearm licence, or a valid FAC, and all firearms must be registered by Jan. 1, 2003.

Firearm licence applications are available at post offices, area firearms offices, by calling 1-800-731-4000, or on-line at .