Canadian gun registry
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|Canadian Gun Law|
| Authorization to Carry|
Authorization to Transport
Canadian Firearms Program
Long gun registry
| Possession and Acquisition|
The Canadian Firearms Registry, more commonly known as simply the Canadian gun registry, is a government-run registry of all legally-owned guns in Canada. It was introduced by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and implemented by successive Justice Ministers Allan Rock and Anne McLellan. It requires every firearm in Canada to be registered or rendered in an unusable state. While this was allegedly an effort to reduce crime by making every gun traceable, no information from the registry has ever been introduced into evidence in any Canadian court. This should not be construed as suggesting that registration of a firearm is free. Any person wishing to obtain a firearm must first acquire a Possession and Acquisition Licence or PAL. The PAL carries a fee of $60 for non-restricted, $80 for restricted, and is renewable every five years. Expiry dates are set on the holder's birthday following the fifth anniversary of the initial issue of the licence.
The current Conservative government has introduced legislation to repeal the requirement to register non-restricted firearms (Bill C-21). C-21 received first reading in the House of Commons on June 19, 2006, but has not been passed by Parliament. In addition, regulatory changes made in May 2006 provide a one-year amnesty for rifle and shotgun owners facing prosecution for failing to register their firearms. This amnesty was extended for an additional year in April 2007 and again in May 2008. In May 2008, the amnesty was extended until May 2009 and is currently set to expire on May 16, 2011. .
 Early history
Canada had a gun registry earlier during World War II, when all people were compelled to register their firearms out of fear of enemy subversion. This registry was discontinued after the war; however, all handguns have been subject to registration since 1934. In addition, fully automatic firearms have been prohibited since 1977. In the mid-1990s, short-barrelled handguns and those firing .25 ACP and .32 ACP ammunition, with the exception of certain guns typically used in shooting competitions, were added to the list of prohibited firearms.
 Initial opposition
Opposition to the registry, particularly outside of Canada's major cities, was immediate. It was argued that the registry would not make Canadians safer and that it was only a step on the way to the confiscation of all guns in Canada. Small scale confiscations of some firearms after the registry took effect and Prime Minister Paul Martin's 2006 election promise of a national ban on handguns seems to have confirmed this fear. The provincial governments of Ontario and Alberta also attacked the bill arguing it exceeded the federal government's mandate, however the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the registry in Reference re Firearms Act.
The Conservative Party of Canada claims to remain committed to scrapping the registry. They claim that if the same amount of money was invested in expanding the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) force instead of requiring gun registration, far more lives would be saved. The Canadian Press reported that a committee made up of then–Justice Minister Vic Toews, Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, and Tory backbencher Garry Breitkreuz has been formed to work out how to scrap the long gun registry and reinvest the money in RCMP officers. At this time it seems that no such committee was ever formed and Breitkreuz had never met with Toews on the matter. However, Breitkreuz was consulted about changes the Conservatives introduced on May 17, 2006.
 Recent backlash
- Main article: Civilian Range Project
The storm of outrage and disgust among normally staid Canadian gun owners has, arguably, been a long time in the making but apparently was finally provoked by an April 7, 2009 press release from CACP Deputy Director General Steven Chabot, which began with the statement that "Canada’s police leaders have adopted twenty-five resolutions on firearms control, including support for the Firearms Act and registration of all firearms, in the interests of public and officer safety." If the opening statement were not insulting enough, the remainder of the release, in the word's of the NFA's Christopher di Armani, "reads as if it was written by Wendy Cukier."
The rationale behind the protest is simple and to the point: Every member of every Canadian agency that carries firearms must qualify with those firearms annually, or they are removed from active duty. If you can’t shoot, you can’t carry a gun, and telling the CACP and CPPA that front-line police officers are no longer welcome on private ranges because of their actions might just get their attention.
In spite of much touting by the then-governing Liberal Party of Canada, the entire registry was rife with problems from the outset. The majority of these were deliberately kept hidden from parliament and the public until initially being exposed by Auditor General Sheila Fraser in 2002.
The Canadian Firearms Program, which the Conservatives are expected to start dismantling, perhaps as early as today, has incurred $87.3 million in startup costs since 2002 three times the budgeted amount for a computer system that does not yet work, Fraser revealed in her long-awaited report.
She found that Parliament was "misinformed" about the true costs of the registry. Of the computer startup costs, $60.8 million $39 million in 2002-03 and $21.8 million in 2003-04 was not brought to Parliament for proper approval in contravention of the government's own accounting policies.
"Had these costs been properly recorded, the Canadian Firearms Centre would have had to seek additional funds (from Parliament) or would have overspent the authorized cap on its spending," Fraser said in her opening remarks to reporters. "We consider this a serious matter for Parliament's attention, because the ability of the House of Commons to approve government spending is fundamental to Parliament's control of the public purse."
CanWest News Service reported the major findings of Fraser's audit last week, including that the source of the continuing problems with the gun registry continues to be a $273 million contract with Team Centra, a computer firm, that has been delayed since May 2002 because of myriad legislative changes
— CanWest News Service
 Cost overruns
The registry again became a political issue in the early 2000s when massive cost overruns were reported. The project which was meant to cost approximately $119 million ended up costing over a billion dollars to implement. Documents obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2004 showed the program cost at $2 billion.
In December 2002, the Auditor-General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, reported that the project was running vastly above initial cost estimates. The report shows that the implementation of the firearms registry program by the Department of Justice has had significant strategic and management problems throughout. Taxpayers were originally expected to pay only $2 million of the budget while registration fees would cover the rest. In 1995, the Department of Justice reported to Parliament that the system would cost $119 million to implement, and that the income generated from licensing fees would be $117 million. This gives a net cost of $2 million. At the time of the 2002 audit, the revised estimates from the Department of Justice were that the cost of the program would be more than $1 billion by 2004/05 and that the income from licence fees in the same period would be $140 million.
The Auditor General's report found other significant problems with the way the project had been handled. These included significant questions around the financial management of the project. In particular, the report stated that estimated project costs often excluded project costs incurred by other agencies, such as the RCMP and provincial governments, giving a false impression of real cost. Problems were likewise reported with how funds were requested from Parliament, with 70% of funds requested through "supplementary estimates," a method intended for unanticipated expenditures and requiring only a one-line statement to Parliament on the purpose of the request. In comparison, only 10% of funds for all other programs in the department were requested in this way over the same period.
The causes of the cost overruns have been blamed on the inexperience of the Justice Department in managing a project of such scale. Especially crucial was that the scope of the project was in continuous flux requiring continuous changes to the basic set-up of the registry. This excuse, however, does not explain the extreme lengths the government went to in order to mislead Parliament about the cost and hide the actual amounts of money being spent.
 CACP claimsBill C-391 that the long gun registry could now be maintained at a cost of only $CAD4.1 million per year. This in spite of the following facts:
- In 1969, the cost of maintaining Canada's handgun registry (a separate matter altogether) was $6.9 million.
- By 1993, the costs for the handgun registry had ballooned to $15.5 million.
- There are 20 times as many long guns as handguns in Canada.
|Total Planned Spending ($millions)||Salaries ($millions)||O&M ($millions)||Contributions ($millions)||FTEs|
 Corruption charges
In January 2006, the RCMP were asked to probe a Liberal Party consultant over a $380,000 contract: Kim Doran was awarded to lobby the federal government for funds for the ailing firearms registry. The five-month contract was awarded by the Justice Department to Doran in March 2003 to lobby the federal Solicitor General, Treasury Board and Privy Council, according to a detailed lobbyist report. At the time, Doran was representing the Coalition for Gun Control! The group, which receives both government and private funding, claims to represent anti-firearm groups and municipalities. It is a strong supporter of the gun registry.
Tony Bernardo, director of the 12,000-member Canadian Shooting Sports Association, opined that the gun registry program funds would be better used for Canadian law and justice purposes. He said his Canadian organization, should also 'get government funding for a consultant to lobby on behalf of law abiding gun owners'. The group asked the RCMP to probe into the matter. "Isn't it inappropriate for the Federal Government to hire a private lobbyist with taxpayers' dollars to lobby itself?" the organization complained to the RCMP. "Isn't it inappropriate for an employee of the Liberal Party to profit from funds granted by the government of Canada?" Doran is listed as Vice-President of Federal Affairs for the Liberals' Ontario Women's Commission and was the party's Deputy National Director of Organization and Policy.
 Alleged mis-use of the registry
Recently, several gun collectors have had their collections stolen, including antique pistols and rifles. Some are suggesting that the gun registry (both long gun and hand gun registries) have been hacked and are now serving as a "hit list", giving criminals a road map to all the guns in Canada. Advocates of the registry are saying that street gangs are not computer-savvy enough to hack the registry, yet they have not addressed the possibility that organized crime may be involved in these recent robberies.
Some "gun" owners have been registering their nail guns, staple guns, glue guns, hair dryers as a protest to the Registry, as the government has to process each application, regardless of the type of gun. Some people went as far as registering their children's cap guns.
 Ekos Poll
|This article deals with a current event or other ongoing issue.|
Keep in mind that information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
In September 2009, firearm owners whose names appear in the registry began getting calls from Canadian polling firm EKOS Research Associates, asking a number of leading and dubious questions regarding the owners in question and their living circumstances. A brief investigation by the CSSA quickly revealed that not only was the confidential contact information of registered gun owners supplied to the private firm, but also that such was done without the knowledge of the current Canadian government. As of September 18, 2009, a government investigation has been launched to determine the extent of the breech of privacy and whether any Canadian laws, such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, have been broken (which would lead to criminal prosecutions).
The investigation is ongoing.
John Hicks, an Orillia-area computer consultant, and webmaster for the Canada Firearms Centre, has said that anyone with a home computer could have easily accessed names, addresses and detailed shopping lists (including make, model and serial number) of registered guns belonging to licensed firearms owners. Hicks told the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) that "During my tenure as the CFC webmaster I duly informed management that the website that interfaced to the firearms registry was flawed. It took some $15 million to develop and I broke it inside of about 30 minutes."
Access to Information requests filed by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association have revealed that, as of September 2009, the registry has suffered no less than 310 "breeches of security." The RCMP has not been able to either account for or trace the source of these breeches.
The security of the registry was further brought into question in September 2010, when Christopher John Whaling of North Vancouver - an approved verifier for the registry - was convicted and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail for trafficking and possessing prohibited firearms.
One perfect example of how effective the long gun registry isn't can be found in the case of Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods Ontario, from whom the Ontario Provincial Police seized a stolen hunting rifle in July 2003. Despite the fact that the rifle had been listed in the RCMP's national crime computers since it was reported stolen in Quebec in 1992, the CFC had registered it not once, not twice, but three times.
On the fourth, someone at the registry finally got around to matching the rifle to the RCMP's list of heisted guns and prevented its re-registration; actually, its re-re-re-registration. — Lorne Gunter, Edmonton Journal
 Public responses
In addition to causing outrage among law-abiding gun owners in Canada, the registry has been targeted for criticism from other Canadian quarters as well. Some examples follow:
- The CBC is a Crown Corporation, meaning that it is wholly owned and controlled by the Government of Canada.
- The Liberal Party of Canada (who introduced Bill C-68, which created the registry) has been the governing party in the Canadian Federal Parliament for approximately 30 of the last 40 years.
- It is common knowledge in Canada that the CBC has been "stacked" with Liberal supporters over the years, to the point where it is frequently called the "Liberal Party's propaganda arm."
- The Liberal Party has, when holding power in the past, shown extreme vindictiveness towards those who have failed to support (or, even worse, chosen to criticize) the party.
- Conventional Leftist wisdom in Canada is that the current Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is something of a political anomaly and it is only a matter of time before the Liberals are returned to power.
One can imagine how blatantly bad something must be for such an organization to turn around and bite the hand that feeds them.
 Use of the registry
Despite the questions of corruption, problems, erroneous data, and inefficiency, police departments commonly use it to allow police officers to check if a residence or property might contain a registered firearm before responding to a call. However, gun registry checks are automatic with other searches for information on unrelated matters, and often quoted number of checks done does not reflect the true utility of the registry or what value line police officers place in the registry. Furthermore, the registry is certainly not definitive as to whether or not an individual or a residence has firearms; criminals have shown a universal refusal to register their illegal firearms.
The gun registry has received support from the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs. Chief Jack Ewatski, president of the CACP, and Chief Armand LaBarge, president of the Ontario Association of Police Chiefs, stated that police officers across the country search the registry about 5,000 times per day, and have used the registry to get guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The police chiefs noted that investigators have used the registry when applying for search warrants and wiretaps. Ewatski said that "If the registry is shut down or even if the long-gun registry is shut down, they’re [front-line police officers] going to lose an important database of information and that would be very unfortunate." )
Individual police chiefs, however, have condemned the registry. Former RCMP Commissioner Norm Inkster stated in the National Post on 14 December 2004 that "the registry does little or nothing to help police link actual crimes to actual guns". Former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino pointed out the registry hasn't helped Toronto police solve a single homicide and "has been of precious little help". Retired Assistant Commissioner Robert Head - a life member of the CACP - called the gun registry "the greatest waste of law enforcement funds that has ever been inflicted on the Canadian taxpayer". Borden-Carlton Police Chief Jamie Fox called the registry "...a massive waste of tax dollars that could have been spent on health care and other pressing social needs." London Police Chief Brian Collins said "It's such a disaster."
Police associations have also condemned the firearms registry. Sgt. Peter Ratcliff, as president of the Edmonton Police Association, described it as "... fraught with problems. It's taken too long, it's cost too much money, it's full of errors." The president of the Alberta Federation of Police Officers, Peter Kawalilak, said "It's a bad law, I'll say that right now." The President of the Calgary Police Association said the program has had no effect on crime and "Despite the money spent, it should be scrapped." Winnipeg Police Association president Loren Schinkel said the registry has done little to curb crime.
 Gun registry effect on public safety
The Auditor General's report also found that there is a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of the gun registry, or to prove that it is meeting its stated goal of improving public safety. The report states:
The performance report focuses on activities such as issuing licenses and registering firearms. The Centre does not show how these activities help minimize risks to public safety with evidence-based outcomes such as reduced deaths, injuries and threats from firearms.
Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino is opposed to the gun registry, stating in a press release:
We have an ongoing gun crisis including firearms-related homicides lately in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered, although we believe that more than half of them were smuggled into Canada from the United States. The firearms registry is long on philosophy and short on practical results considering the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives."
Hicks says that the CFC's former system allowed hackers to find vulnerable user accounts and fool the system into thinking that the hacker was the actual licensed gun owner. Mr. Hicks said he repeatedly warned CFC management to properly protect gun owners' personal information before he filed an official complaint with the Privacy Commissioner. Hicks says that the Privacy Commissioner responded that they would investigate further should anyone complain that they were targeted due to information gleaned from the CFRS database.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters questioned the security of the gun registry after a home invasion that seemed to target a licensed gun collector. The OFAH argues that, in the wrong hands, a database detailing the whereabouts of every legally-owned firearm in Canada is a potential shopping list for criminals.
 Role in United States gun politics
The National Rifle Association and other guns rights groups in the United States have used the Canadian registry as an example of the potential failure such a system would be if implemented in the United States which has far more firearms in private circulation than Canada.
Supporters of the Registry have, over the years, created and perpetuated a number of myths regarding this white elephant. They range in nature from the misguided to the outright deceptive. Some of these are addressed in the list below:
- The Registry is a valuable tool for Canadian police forces because they access it more than 6,500 times every day.
The fact of the matter is that each and every legal firearm sale and purchase in Canada generates THREE administrative "hits" to the Registry: one each for the buyer, seller, and the firearm itself.
As of July, 2008, there are over seven million registered firearms in the system, with legal transfers accounting for the vast majority of the "hits" generated. Additionally, whenever a police officer anywhere in Canada makes a simple address or license plate query to the nation-wide CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) database, a query is automatically entered to the Registry and recorded as another "hit," regardless of whether the information was needed, or even wanted. With this information in mind, it becomes clear that a "hit" to the Registry does not in any way indicate a legitimate investigative use by law enforcement.
Of the 11,086 computer hits per day in 2009, 7,653 were for a name, 2,842 were for addresses, but a mere 19 were checking a registration certificate... of all types! The vast majority were due to hits automatically generated by a system designed to produce impressive statistics from irrelevant inquiries.
- The Registry saves lives because it alerts police officers to the presence of firearms when they are responding to emergency calls.
No sensible Canadian police officer relies on the notoriously incomplete and inaccurate data contained in the Registry to determine how he or she will approach a domestic or emergency call. Some officers, speaking privately or on condition of anonymity (currently serving officers are usually reluctant to go on public record for fear of damaging their career futures), have even gone so far as to state that to do so would be reckless or even suicidal. The fact is that police officers approach ALL calls with an appropriate measure of safety. Also, extremely few legally owned and registered guns are ever used in the commission of crimes. The Registry provides ONLY a listing of the legal firearms; the very guns which police officers (or anyone else, for that matter) are least likely to ever be harmed by. The very fact that an individual's firearms license is known to police makes the registry redundant.
- The Registry has directly reduced firearms-related deaths.
The decline in deaths related to firearms began in the mid-1970s, well before the introduction of the Registry. This reduction is more reasonably attributed to the aging Canadian demographic than to any other single cause. As of this writing (August, 2008), there have been NO studies published to in any way support the assertion that the Registry has contributed to a reduction in Canadian mortality rates of any sort.
- Police are aided in their investigations by the Registry.
Julian Fantino (current commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and former Chief of Police in the Ontario cities of Toronto and London) stated in January of 2003 that, "The law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered ... the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives." The information contained in the Registry is both incomplete and notoriously unreliable; as such, it is rarely, if ever, used as evidence in a court of law. In spite of the fact that it has existed for several years, there is no credible proof that the Registry has ever aided in the investigation or prosecution of even one major crime in Canada.
- The Registry protects women from domestic violence.
Forget, for the moment, that the average battered woman would be better protected if she were allowed to arm herself against violent attack. On an average day, women's shelters across Canada refer 221 women and 112 children elsewhere, due to lack of funding. Clearly, there are better uses for the $CDN2 billion spent on the registry than registering duck guns. Furthermore, registered long guns were used in homicides only twice in 2003 (Public Security Ministry website), and a total of 9 times from 1997-2004 (Library of Parliament). The registry of 7,000,000 firearms did not prevent these deaths. Given the extraordinarily low rate of misuse of some 7,000,000 registered firearms, it is unreasonable to believe that maintaining a registry of long guns could have any effect on spousal homicide rates. Moreover, the vast majority of violent domestic assaults are preceded by a lengthy, police recorded history, effectively denying abusers a firearms licence.
- Two parts: a) The registry helps track stolen guns and forces firearms owners to be more responsible instoring their firearms; and b) Over 50% of firearms used in crime are stolen from gun owners.
Past DoJ studies found that, among homicides where details were available, 84% of the firearms used in the commission of the crimes are unregistered and 74.9% are illegal guns smuggled into Canada, NOT the 50% some claim. Recently, Canada’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team reported that 94% of crime guns were illegally imported into Canada. Vancouver Police report 97% of seized firearms are smuggled. Other government sources show between 9 and 16% of crime firearms originate in Canada. That figure is speculative as the vast majority of firearms used in crime are never recovered and most recovered guns cannot be identified as the serial numbers are removed by the criminals using them in efforts to make the guns untraceable.
- The information on the registry database is secure and cannot be accessed by criminals.
This has already been touched on in an earlier section, but we'll cover some more here. Between 1995 and 2003, there were 306 illegal breaches of the national police database documented, 121 of which are still unsolved. Many police investigators have publicly voiced their concerns that the gun registry has been breached and become a “shopping list” for thieves.
- The money has already been spent to set up the registry, so it's foolish to dismantle it now.
WRONG! The gun registry is by no means complete. Only 7 million of the estimated 16.5 million guns that are in Canada (according to government import and export records) are registered. More than 300,000 owners of previously registered handguns still don’t have a firearms license, more than 400,000 firearm license holders still haven’t registered a gun and more than 300,000 owners of a registered handgun still have to re-register 548,254 handguns (Canadian Firearms Registry). Based just upon precedent, it will cost another billion dollars to complete the registry, with no measurable increase in its usefulness.
- Rifles and shotguns are the weapon of choice for criminals and are the most used firearms in crime.
Where firearms were used in a violent crime, 71.2% involved handguns (but it is estimated that over 1/3 involve replicas or air guns), only 9% involved rifles or shotguns (of which 2.1% were registered) and 6.5% involved sawed off rifles or shotguns (which are already prohibited in the first place).
- The recent deaths of 6 RCMP officers at the hands of criminals with rifles proves the needfor the long gun registry.
This, with little doubt, has to be one of the most nauseating of the lies foisted by the gun-grabbers. The fact is that the Registry’s monumental failure to prevent the tragic deaths of these police officers underscores the folly of registering the firearms of the law abiding. All the criminals who committed these crimes were in illegal possession of unregistered guns, despite the presence of the registry. These events prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the ineffective uselessness of the long gun registry in protecting our society.
- CAFC Form 921 Application for a Possession and Acquisition Licence Under the Firearms Act (For Individuals Aged 18 and Over), RCMP website, 2009-01-08 (English)
- Government extends gun-registration amnesty 2008-05-14
- RCMP Firearms Centre — Special Bulletin for Police #78, March 2010 (Extension of Amnesty and Other Measures) 
- Christopher di Armani, "A Line in the Sand" Canadian Firearms Journal, June/July 2009
- "Bungled gun registry focus of Fraser's report", CanWest News Service, 5-17-06
- "Gun registry cost soars to $2 billion." CBC News, February 13, 2004.
- Taken from "Facts and Figures (April - June 2010)", RCMP website.
- Greenwood, Bill. "Liberals just keep wasting our money," Red Deer Advocate (AB), Jan 11, 2006
- Dennis Florian, "Privacy?," Gun Owners Resource, 09-18-2009
- "B.C. verifier for Canadian Firearms Registry jailed for gun trafficking." Keith Fraser, The Province, 9/29/10.
- Lorne Gunter, "Gun-laundering registry a farce: One billion dollars a big investment for a national firearms lost and found," Edmonton Journal p. A14, Sunday 13 July 2003
- "Federal gun registry is working, police say" Globe and Mail, 16 May 2006, p. A11.
- Garry Breitkreuz
- Gun files easy to hack
- Licensing and Registration: What it Can and Can Not Do
- POLICE USE OF THE GUN REGISTRY DATABASE WILDLY EXAGGERATED BY LIBERALS! garrybreitkreuz.com
- Facts and Figures (January - March, 2010), Canadian Firearms Program, RCMP website.
- "To make a decision at a call based on registry information would be foolish at best and deadly at worst." -Retired Toronto police Sgt Michael Mays. From: WHAT POLICE HAVE SAID ABOUT THE GUN REGISTRY, compiled by Garry Breitkreuz, MP.
- "And what about the gun registry itself? If hackers can get into the Pentagon's computer, then who is to say they have not been able to hack into the federal gun registry?" -William Hargreaves, from Ammunition records listing legitimate gun owners may provide a handy 'shopping list' for criminals out to steal guns -- and bullets by Mark Bonokoski, Toronto Sun, 01-22-06
 See also
- Canada Firearms Centre
- Gun politics in Canada
- Possession and Acquisition Licence
- Dominion of Canada Rifle Association
- Online registry search form at The Ottawa Citizen
- Canada Firearms Centre: On-Line Services (including registration)
- Canada Firearms Centre: FAQ
- Coalition for Gun Control
- JJHicks.com Security Advisory: Predictability and Vulnerability in the Canadian Firearms Centre's On-Line Services Web Site (www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca)
- Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association
- National Firearms Association