Government Introduces Bill to Get Rid of Mandatory Minimum for Firearms Offences

As noted in a previous blog post, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  The purpose of the Bill is to decrease the representation of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Canadians in the criminal justice system. One of the principle means of doing that is to remove mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearms offences.  In particular, mandatory minimum sentences would be repealed for the following offences:

  • Using a firearm or imitation firearm in commission of offence (two separate offences)
    • Paragraphs 85(3)(a) and (b): MMPs of 1 year (first offence) and 3 years (second and subsequent offence)
  • Possession of firearm or weapon knowing its possession is unauthorized (two separate offences)
    • Paragraphs 92(3)(b) and (c): MMP of 1 year (second offence) and 2 years less a day (third and subsequent offence)
  • Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition
    • Paragraphs 95(2)(i) and (ii): MMPs of 3 years (first offence) and 5 years (second and subsequent offence)
  • Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence
    • Paragraph 96(2)(a): MMP of 1 year
  • Weapons trafficking (excluding firearms and ammunition)
    • Subsection 99(3): MMP of 1 year
  • Possession for purpose of weapons trafficking (excluding firearms and ammunition)
    • Subsection 100(3): MMP of 1 year
  • Importing or exporting knowing it is unauthorized
    • Subsection 103(2.1): MMP of 1 year
  • Discharging firearm with intent
    • Paragraph 244(2)(b): MMP of 4 years
  • Discharging firearm — recklessness
    • Paragraph 244.2(3)(b): MMP of 4 years
  • Robbery with a firearm
    • Paragraph 344(1)(a.1): MMP of 4 years
  • Extortion with a firearm
    • Paragraph 346(1.1)(a.1): MMP of 4 years

The Bill will also have the effect of making conditional sentences available for a number of firearms offences for which a conditional sentence was previously not available.  A conditional sentence is a sentence in which the offender serves a “jail” term at home under house arrest with stringent conditions rather than at an institution.  As a result, some offenders convicted of firearms offences will now be able to avoid going to prison.

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