Gun Licences Rise to Record for Second Straight Year in 2016

Canada Gun Firearms Licences Annual 2016The number of Canadians with gun licences rose to a record in 2016 for the second consecutive year, as men, women and youth sought firearms for fun, sport, hunting and collecting.

Congratulations to every single one, and welcome to the community of shooters and hunters!

Canada had 2,076,840 licences issued to individuals at Dec. 31, the RCMP said today in an e-mailed response to TheGunBlog.ca. That’s the highest year-end level since the current permitting regime took effect in 2001, and compares with 2,026,011 at the end of 2015.

More Data to Make Us Smile

  • The number of licence holders has risen for seven consecutive years.
  • The number of licences climbed by 2.51 percent in 2016, the second-fastest increase on record, behind 2.97 percent in 2011.
  • The number of net new licences jumped in 2016 by 50,829, the second-highest annual gain on record. (Hundreds of thousands of people get licenced each year, but much of the gain is offset by people who don’t renew or who die. Net change adds new licences and subtracts old ones that expired, got revoked, or where the licence holder died.)
  • More Canadian adults have gun licences than the number that plays the country’s most popular sports, from golf, hockey, soccer and baseball to volleyball, basketball, skiing and swimming. (Canada has probably always had more shooters/hunters and gun owners than people who played those sports.)
  • At the end of March, the number of licences climbed to 2,079,865.
  • “Restricted” licences and firearm purchases by individuals continue to surge. (The RCMP typically reports individuals and businesses together, but the following figures exclude businesses. The data were received by TheGunBlog.ca on May 5.)
    • Licences (RPALs) jumped by 9.2 percent to 514,730 at Dec. 31, 2016, from 471,523 at the end of 2015, the first year they’ve exceeded the symbolic level of half a million. At March 31, they climbed to 521,547.
    • Registrations rose to 733,542 at Dec. 31, 2016, from 671,997 a year earlier. At March 31, they increased to 749,280.
  • 1 out of 14 adults has a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), and 1 out of 56 adults has a “Restricted” Possession and Acquisition Licence (RPAL). (You can apply for a Minor’s Licence at age 12.) (Thanks to SalishSailor on Reddit for this perspective.)
  • Besides generating smiles, shooting and hunting generate jobs and income for firearm and ammunition companies, target ranges, hunting guides as well as parks, airlines and hotels. In 2000 in Ontario alone, hunting led to more than $1.5 billion in activity and employed some 20,000 people, the Canadian Tourism Commission said in 2012. British Columbia estimated that hunting represented about $350 million a year in economic activity, the Vancouver Sun said in 2013.


  • Canada requires a licence to buy or own firearms and ammunition legally, following a law passed in 1995. The law gave existing owners until the end of 2001 to get permits. The earliest data available to TheGunBlog.ca is from 2003.
  • In addition to licensed gun owners, an unknown number of owners bought firearms legally before the law took effect and don’t have licences. In 1998, before the regime change, the government estimated that about 3 million civilians owned firearms, representing about 26 percent of households.
  • Since you don’t need a licence to go shooting with someone who has one, the number of people who enjoy shooting and hunting could be two, three or more times higher than the number of people with licences. For example, a father might be the only licence holder in a household with his wife and children.

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