OTTAWA - The Conservative government has repealed gun show regulations, on the advice of the same controversial advisory committee the prime minister recently distanced himself from.
Meanwhile, Ontario's chief firearms officer says he fears the decision will eventually bring American-style gun-show problems to Canada.
The changes kill a set of rules that were introduced by the Liberals in 1998, but never brought into force after years of consultations and deferrals.
The regulations would have required the sponsor of a gun show to notify local police and the chief firearms officer of the province before an event, and to ensure the security and safety of the location and the firearms.
The government says it consulted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, which felt that gun owners already abided by a set of existing rules.
The decision was published Wednesday in the Canada Gazette, but did not appear on Public Safety Canada's website. It notes that MPs and senators were given 30 days to request changes to the repeal, but neither House did.
"Canada has a strong gun control system and we will not weaken these protections," said Julie Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
"The purchase, transport and storage of firearms continues to be strictly controlled in Canada and these strict rules apply to gun shows. Our government has taken concrete action to strengthen our laws and to stop violent crime and illegal firearms."
But earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper candidly rejected some of the committee's recommendations to loosen other gun laws.
The Coalition for Gun Control has criticized the advisory committee for being stacked with gun enthusiasts including firearms dealers and representatives of the Canadian Sport Shooting Association. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has been unable to get on the committee.
Committee member Greg Farrant, of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, says under the Liberals the same group was stacked in the other direction — with gun opponents.
He says that two police officers among the current group provide balance and valuable front-line viewpoints.
"There's not always unanimity on the committee," Farrant notes.
"There are varying degrees of support for certain measures, there are things that are discussed by the committee and put forward to the government for consideration."
Chief Firearms Officers in the provinces had told the government that they wanted the regulations to come into force, particularly in light of the fact the gun registry was being shut down.
The registry made it necessary for long-gun transactions to be cleared first — the registrar had to verify the license of the purchaser and then issue a new registration in that person's name.
Ontario's Chief Firearms Officer Chris Wyatt said there is now no official way to ensure sellers are verifying licenses, and nothing on the books that requires a gun show sponsor to tell police an event is being held.
Wyatt says there are genuine concerns about theft and illegal sales at gun shows.
"Gun shows are a major source of illegal firearms in the United States, and that could happen here. That's why we thought there should be greater regulation of gun shows now that the registry is gone," said Wyatt.
"Some of these gun shows, they have hundreds of vendors and thousands of firearms. It might be an attractive target for criminals to steal firearms or acquire firearms. With long guns, the standard is now very low for accountability."
Canada's National Firearms Association hailed the decision Wednesday.
"In short, the Conservative government recognized that the gun show regulations were an unnecessary part of an ideological liberal agenda to gradually eliminate firearms ownership and cleared out this ill-intentioned piece of legislation for which there was no justifiable need," said Sheldon Clare, president of the association.
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The <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/10/us-usa-shooting-guns-fb-idUSTRE7096M620110110" target="_hplink">U.S. Constitution</a>'s Second Amendment affords Americans the right to "bear Arms," but each state has its own regulations. <em>Photo credit: Whitney Curtis/Getty Images</em>
Only licensed gun owners can <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-kingdom" target="_hplink">buy and possess weapons</a> in the UK. Hunting, target shooting or collecting are considered valid reasons to acquire a license, but <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-26-2026227487_x.htm" target="_hplink">self-defense is not</a>. Civilians can't possess semi-automatic or automatic firearms, handguns or armor-piercing ammunition. <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uks-gun-laws-are-among-the-toughest-in-the-world-1990075.html" target="_hplink">Criminal offenders</a> who have been in prison for more than three years are banned from having a gun. <em>Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images</em>
Australians can only possess a firearm with a license, and<a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/australia" target="_hplink"> licenses are only granted</a> for hunting, target shooting, historical collection, pest control, and occasionally for occupational reasons. Civilians can't keep semi-automatic rifles or shotguns, and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-26-2026227487_x.htm" target="_hplink">gun ownership for self-defense</a> is not permitted. <em>Photo credit: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images</em>
Mexican law allows civilians to possess handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons, but <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/mexico" target="_hplink">only with a license</a>. Valid reasons to request a license are hunting, target shooting, rodeo riding, collection, personal protection, or employment. Applicants must pass a background check and renew their licenses every two years. <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2012-04-26/us/us_mexico-crime-guns_1_mexican-crime-scenes-gun-sales-gun-dealers" target="_hplink">Nearly 70 percent</a> of weapons found at Mexican crime scenes can be traced back to the United States, according to CNN. <em>Photo credit: LUCAS CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images</em>
Russians <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/russia" target="_hplink">must prove</a> that firearms will be used for hunting, target shooting, historic collection, personal protection or security in order to get a license. License applicants must be 18 years old and pass a background check. Licenses need to be renewed every five years. <em>Photo credit: DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images</em>
Chinese citizens are <a href="http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-04/21/content_856308.htm" target="_hplink">not allowed to posses firearms</a>. Exceptionally, the government issues permission to own a firearm for hunting, sports shooting and animal control. <a href="http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-04/21/content_856308.htm" target="_hplink">Penalties for illegal selling of weapons</a> ranges from three years in jail to the death penalty. <em>Caption: Police display guns they seized from illegal traders at Chengdu Municipal Public Security Bureau on January 26, 2005 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)</em>
Canadians can possess handguns, but <a href="http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/information/lic-per-eng.htm" target="_blank">need authorization</a> to carry them. Possession of automatic weapons is prohibited (except when the <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/canada" target="_hplink">weapon was bought before 1978</a>) and semi-automatic weapons are tolerated in exceptional cases. Applicants for a license must <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/10/gun-ownership-laws-around-the-world" target="_hplink">pass background test</a>, must follow a safety course and be certified by a firearms officer. Licenses are up for renewal eavery 5 years. <em>Caption: Rifles are lined up as athletes prepare to compete in the women's Biathlon 4x6 km relay at the Whistler Olympic Park during the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 23, 2010. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Brazil has <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/04/09/brazil-debates-gun-laws-deadly-school-shooting/" target="_hplink">strict gun laws</a>. Gun holders need to be 25, have no criminal record and attend safety courses. Licences are granted for reasons of hunting, target shooting, personal protection and security and must be renewed every three years. <em>Caption: A policeman holds a seized machine gun at Morro do Alemao shanty town on November 28, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (JEFFERSON BERNARDES/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
As the <em>Atlantic</em> notes, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/" target="_hplink">few Japanese own a gun</a>. Civilians in Japan are only allowed to have a firearm <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/japan" target="_hplink">for hunting and with special permission for target shooting</a>. License applicants need to pass <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/" target="_hplink">a shooting range class and a background check</a>. Licences have to be renewed <a href="http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/japan" target="_hplink">every three years</a>. <em>Caption: A soldier of Ground Self Defense Forces' Central Readiness Force (CRF) walks past rifles prior to the inauguration ceremony of the CRF at Asaka camp in northern Tokyo, 31 March 2007. (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
German civilians <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-26-2026227487_x.htm" target="_hplink">need to have a license</a> to buy and hold firearms. Applicants need to be 21, pass a background check that assesses reliability and suitability and applicants under the age of 25 need to pass a psychological exam. Licenses are up for renewal every three years. <em>Caption: A gun lies outside a branch of Postbank bank after an attempted robbery that left one guard dead October 29, 2007 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)</em>