Canada Gun Licences Rise to Record in 2023 With Big Annual Increase

Chart of Canada Gun Licences 2002-2023

TheGunBlog.ca — The number of Canadians with a gun licence rose to a record in 2023 for the third-straight year, with gains in every province and territory.

The climbing popularity of firearms for safety and sport led to one of the biggest annual increases since the licensing regime took effect in 2001.

PALs Exceed 2.35 Million

  • A new high of 2,352,449 men and women had a government-issued firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) at 31 December 2023.
  • Source: Kim Chamberland, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, e-mailed the information to TheGunBlog.ca today in response to our request for the data.
    • The Ottawa-based RCMP oversees licensing.

Why It Matters

  • The number of people with a gun licence shows the size and strength of Canada’s gun culture and community.
  • Firearm permits are rising in popularity, even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party target PAL holders with expanding firearm prohibitions and confiscations.
  • Demand for licences is climbing as people across the country seek guns for activities ranging from protection, safety and self-defence to recreation, competition, hunting and collecting.

2023 Highlights

  • New Record. The number of individuals with a federal firearm licence rose in 2023 to its third-consecutive record. Except for a drop in 2020 related to the Covid-19 virus, licences have been climbing since 2009.
  • Big Increase. The number of PAL holders rose by 87,694 in 2023, the biggest annual advance since at least 2003.
  • Canada Wide. The number of licensed gun users rose in every province and territory in 2023.
  • More Women. The percentage of women with a PAL climbed in almost every province/territory in 2023, shifting the Canadian total to 15% female, 85% male. Yukon has the highest percentage, with 28% women.
  • Ontario, B.C., Alberta. In the past five years, Ontario and British Columbia each added almost 55,000 licensees, more than any other region. Alberta was third, with almost 47,000 new PAL holders since 2018.

PAL in Context

  • You need a PAL to get guns legally. The Liberal Party of Canada made it a crime for anyone to buy, sell, own, or inherit any firearm unless they have a government-authorized firearm licence.
  • Most gun owners don’t have a PAL. Estimates based on surveys suggest most gun owners don’t have a licence.
  • The RCMP does licensing and confiscation. The RCMP oversees licensing, and works with the Liberals to target licence holders with mass firearm confiscations.

Data Table: PALs By Province and Territory

Source for 2023 Data: RCMP, Response to TheGunBlog.ca, 23 January 2024

Individual PALs
5-Year Change (Actual)5-Year Change
New Brunswick74,377+4,415+6.3%
Newfld and Lab75,564-836-1.1%
Nova Scotia78,298+2,954+3.9%
Canada Total2,352,449+177,724+8.2%


These are the same charts as at Canada Gun Facts and Stats.



  • 24 January 2024: Deletes sentence on Quebec PAL trend.