Thank you, Inky Mark.
You saved me 80 bucks and probably a lot of grief.
Your letter to the editor in last week’s Manitoba Co-operator prompted me to dig out my Firearm’s Licence to check the expiration date, which turns out to be next Feb. 28.
After getting the licence in 2007 it was shoved in a desk drawer and never looked at again until I read your letter, which truth be told, sent a little shiver down my spine. And not because I oppose licensing, but because I know from experience the hassle of trying to get back into the system after failing to renew on time.
I once had a Possession Only Licence (POL) obtained, I’m guessing, when I registered a couple of 22s. I ignored the POL renewal forms mailed to me on the mistaken assumption renewing was unnecessary because the Conservatives promised to scrap the gun registry. I didn’t realize there were essentially two registries — one for gun owners and another for their guns. The government eventually killed the latter but not the former.
My ignorance eventually led to the Firearms Centre informing me via registered mail I had 30 days to turn over my firearms. I called the centre seeking to renew my POL only to be told POLs had been “grandfathered.” They could be renewed, but not after expiring. I had two options: surrender my arsenal or get a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). Getting a PAL required either taking a firearms safety course and passing an examination or challenging the exam. I did the latter.
Rather than going through all that again, I wanted to be sure I renewed my PAL before it expired. I called the Canadian Firearms Centre (1-800-731-4000, http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/) to find out what to do. Renewal forms are mailed automatically three months before licences expire, I was told.
“Are you sure they’ll be sent automatically?” I asked.
“Well, you can download the forms and renew yourself,” came the reply.
(Look for “Form CAFC 979 at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/form-formulaire/num-nom/979-eng.htm.)
Those who renew before September don’t have to pay the new $80 renewal fee, as Mark noted in his letter.
My advice is don’t wait until the last minute. In addition to filling out a form, renewals require a photograph of the applicant. While it doesn’t have to be a professionally taken photo, it does have to be a specific size.
It’s ironic. The gun registry is gone but the registry of gun owners isn’t. At least with the gun registry you only had to do it once — at the start or when purchasing a new gun, which I found to be hassle free.
When buying a new gun after getting my PAL, I asked the clerk how long I’d have to wait before taking my new rifle home. I assumed there’d be a five-day waiting period like in many U.S. states. I was surprised when he said as long as I had my PAL I could buy as many guns and ammo as I liked and then leave once he was done registering them by phone to the Firearms Centre.
But I’d rather have to register a gun once and not have to keep renewing my PAL.