How Police Review ATCs: Info Commissioner Letter to Dennis Young — The following letter published today by Dennis Young outlines how police in Canada assess applications to carry loaded handguns for personal protection.

The Ottawa-based Information Commissioner sent the Nov. 5 letter to Young in response to his complaint about how the RCMP handled his requests for information related to Authorizations To Carry. (See ATC Regulations, Application)

The RCMP told Young, an Alberta-based advocate for firearm users, in April that one person had a carry permit for “protection of life.”

Excerpt of Letter to Young

As stated by the RCMP, ATCs for the protection of life are very rare. They are the result of a comprehensive assessment by law enforcement and investigation officials of a “credible and immediate threat to an individual’s life”, more specifically a threat that cannot be effectively mitigated by law enforcement officials.

According to the RCMP, ATCs are only issued with the consensus of its Chief Firearm Officer (CFO) and the affected individual. The Chief of Police of the affected jurisdiction is also consulted and must attest to the potential for danger of grievous bodily harm and/or death. Law enforcement officials must also demonstrate that police protection is not sufficient to protect the individual. During the consultation process for the issuance of an ATC for the protection of life, details of threat occurrences (including police reports of threats and/or previous attempts of grievous harm) are made available to the CFO for consideration.

Source: Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, Nov. 5 letter to Dennis Young


  • It sounds like police make decisions about people’s survival in the belief that they can predict the future.
  • The police’s own data published by Statistics Canada demonstrate that police protection is not sufficient to protect tens of thousands of Canadians who are violently threatened, raped, kidnapped, attacked or killed each year.
  • It’s concerning that police prevent responsible and qualified men and women from carrying survival equipment.
  • We don’t wait until we’re in a crash to put on a seatbelt. We don’t wait until we’re drowning to put on a life jacket. Why would we wait until we’re threatened to put on a gun?
  • Millions of people around the world, including an estimated 19 million in the U.S. alone, are allowed to carry guns for protection in case of an unforeseen or unforseeable threat or attack.
  • What is the moral and legal liability of police if they deny someone an ATC who becomes the victim of an attack?


Correction on Nov. 12 at 00:10 Toronto time: Corrects headline and first paragraph to refer to police instead of RCMP.