Owning Guns Is a Privilege, Government’s Crime Policy Unit Says

The Canadian government reminded gun owners today via its Criminal Law Policy Section that it regards the acquisition and possession of firearms as a privilege, not a right.

If that privilege is waived or lapses while we have guns, Section 92 of the Criminal Code makes us instantly eligible for a 10-year, all-expenses-paid stay in a cell with plenty of new shower-mates.

This isn’t new. Millions of legal gun owners faced the threat of criminal charges and prison unless they got licensed after the Liberal Party-led government passed the Firearms Act in 1995. Didn’t get a licence, got one and didn’t renew, or applied to renew and didn’t get approved? Or maybe the police decide to revoke your licence? Bye-bye privilege, hello orange coveralls.

(The national police manages licensing and hasn’t enforced this systematically, but they can enforce it arbitrarily. Canada has about 2 million licensed gun owners, and on average since 2012, more than 88,000 didn’t renew their licences each year. Canada has an adult prison population of about 40,000.)


“Licences are valid for five years and specify the privileges to possess and acquire a specific class of firearm (i.e. non-restricted, restricted, prohibited),” the Canada Gazette said today on p. 1078. “To remain lawfully entitled to possess firearms, individuals must renew their licence prior to expiry.”

The notice in the government’s official newspaper related to an amnesty for unlicensed owners of “Non-restricted” firearms, giving them until Dec. 31 to get licensed or get rid of their guns. A similar amnesty has been in place for years. When this one ends, the amnesty “will expire permanently,” the Gazette said.

The contact person listed is in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Law Policy Section.

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