Canada Gun Facts & Stats

Newest Update: 08 July 2020

  • New: See the updated and expanded interactive charts on licensing and imports (Update July 5.)
  • For info on the Liberal Party’s 01 May 2020 Confiscation Order, see this page: Liberal Gun Bans
  • See a mistake or have an idea? Contact us.
Canada Gun Licences 2010 2019 - Canada Gun Facts & Stats

Numbers at a Glance


  • 15-20 Million. Guns owned by individuals for protection, hunting, recreation, competition, collecting, predator control, and other beneficial uses. (Estimate)
  • 3-4 Million. Gun owners, with or without a licence. (Estimate)
  • 2,216,509. Men and women with a firearm licence authorized by the federal police (RCMP) at 31 Dec. 2019.
  • 300,000. Adults with a federal firearm licence who own at least one police-registered handgun. (Estimate)
  • 90,000. Canadians (mainly police, law-enforcement and military) allowed or required to carry loaded guns in daily life for personal or public safety. (Estimate)
  • 75,634. AR-15 target rifles registered to individuals at 14 Aug. 2019.
  • 2,400. Federally licensed firearm businesses in Canada.
  • 3,000. Guns bought and sold every day by police-approved individuals. (Estimate. Roughly 1/3 new and 2/3 used.)
  • 1,400. Target-shooting ranges in Canada. About the same as the number of hospitals.
  • 365. Days each year that people with gun licences get a police screening.
  • 13. Percent of Canadian men who have a firearm licence, or almost one in seven.
  • 13. Percent of Canadian firearm-licence holders who are women.
  • 10. Potential years in jail for not renewing your gun licence on time.
  • 3. Legal classifications for firearms in Canada.
  • 2. Team Canada shooters in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Both were women.
  • 0. Number of violent criminals with firearms who obey firearm laws.

Related


Values & Culture


What values do Canadian gun owners share?

Canadian firearm owners come from all backgrounds and have diverse values and viewpoints.

  • We share a commitment to safety, responsibility, and good citizenship.
  • We strive to be of good character and sound judgment.
  • We value our family and friends, community and camaraderie.
  • We demand and defend liberty, privacy and security.
    • Many people are discreet about their gun ownership and their hunting and sport shooting. They keep it private. Others are worldwide celebrity hunters and athletes.
  • If you share these values and goals, the shooting community will welcome you with open arms. You’ll make friends for life.

What if you don’t share our values?

  • If you aren’t of good character or don’t share our culture of safety, responsibility and good citizenship, we don’t want you in the shooting community. Period.

How We Contribute

  • Canada’s firearm culture favours good individuals, good neighbours and good citizens. We vote. We pay our taxes on time. We do our best to keep our affairs in order and to serve the community.
  • Hunters provide valuable leadership, expertise and hundreds of millions of dollars each year for nature conservation, wildlife protection, habitat restoration and outdoor education.
  • Recreational and competitive shooters promote good marksmanship and good sportsmanship.
  • Firearm collectors provide essential education and information on history, engineering, manufacturing and craftsmanship.
  • Farmers and ranchers protect their crops and livestock from predators so they can feed the country and the world.
  • The shooting community and firearm industry raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for charities and individuals in need.
  • Men and women across the country buy gear and get trained to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
  • Beyond gun ownership we are active in all areas and aspects of society, from health and education to business and politics to nature conservation and national security.

General Info


How popular are guns in Canada?

  • Hunting, shooting and guns are at the heart of Canadian culture, heritage and tradition, and the economy.
  • More Canadian adults have a firearm licence than play golf, hockey soccer or baseball.
    • In 2010, 1.5 million adults participated in golf (the most-popular sport), and 1.85 million had gun licences.
  • Hunting and shooting contribute billions of dollars to the economy every year.
  • The firearm and ammunition industry employs almost 50,000 people.

How many Canadians own guns?

  • Estimates suggest it’s more than 4 million.
  • 2.2 million men and women had gun licences at Dec. 31, 2019.
    • That’s about 7.3% of the country’s 30 million adults.
    • Not all of them own guns, but all of them are allowed to.
  • A survey by Angus Reid Institute in April 2019 showed 14% of respondents, representing 4.2 million adults, said they owned at least one gun. See Question QG17.
  • Many people object to the increasingly onerous, expensive and unjust restrictions on firearm users and opt out of the licensing regime. They risk criminal charges and jail, but enforcement is almost impossible.

How many guns are in Canada?

  • Estimates based on former domestic firearm manufacturing, imports and exports, and police records suggest individuals own 15 million – 20 million guns, maybe more.
  • We own more than 1 million revolvers, pistols, AR-15 target rifles and other firearms registered with the RCMP as of April 30, 2019.
  • Canadians used to buy more than 1,200 “Restricted” handguns and rifles each week on average. (The market for AR-15 rifles closed on 01 May 2020.)
  • The military, police and law-enforcement own hundreds of thousands more shotguns, rifles and handguns.

How many target ranges are in Canada?

  • Canada has an estimated 1,400 shooting ranges, about the same as the number of hospitals.
  • On top of regulated ranges, many people shoot on their properties (e.g. back of the farm or ranch) or on public land (e.g. old quarry, in the woods) where it is safe.

Which big cities have the most shooters?

  • Montreal has the highest number of licensed shooters among Canada’s five-biggest cities, but Calgary has the highest rate of gun owners per capita.

Which laws regulate Canadian gun owners?

  • Having and using guns in Canada is hyper-regulated by about 24 federal laws and regulations, plus many more provincial and municipal restrictions.
  • The Criminal Code and the Firearms Act are the main federal laws that apply.
  • List of Canada’s 24 Federal Gun Laws and Regulations

Licensing


Who is allowed to own guns?

  • To legally buy and own guns, and to buy ammunition, you must be at least 18, have a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
  • A PAL doesn’t allow you to carry loaded guns on your person for safety or self-defence, and doesn’t allow you to use guns for hunting. You need additional permits.

Who manages licensing?

  • The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program manages firearm licensing for individuals and businesses.

How do you get a gun licence?

  1. Take mandatory RCMP-approved safety course.
  2. Pass written exam and practical exam with minimum score.
  3. Submit licence application and payment to RCMP.
  4. Pass background check (including mental health, spouse approval) and reference checks.
  5. Obtain licence card with photo.
  6. Pass daily background screening.

Is it true that you get a daily background screening if you have a gun licence?

Yes. The RCMP calls this “continuous-eligibility screening.” Having a gun licence in Canada is proof that you aren’t a criminal or charged as one.

Do you need a gun licence to go target shooting?

  • No. Millions of men, women, teenagers and children shoot without a licence, under the direct supervision of licensed family, friends or range staff.
  • If you visit your local target range that allows drop-in customers, you’ll see everything from couples on a date to bachelorette parties to non-profits and businesses hosting a shooting night.

What’s special about a gun licence?

  • A firearm licence is one of only a few federally issued documents (e.g. PAL, passport, pilot licence, maritime licence).
  • You don’t need a background check to get a passport, but you pass one every day to have a firearm licence.

Firearm Licensing: Interactive Charts

 


Classification


Note on Confiscation Order: The prime minister ordered mass gun prohibitions and confiscations on 01 May 2020 that specifically target licensed firearm users and businesses.

For more info, see: Liberal Gun Bans

What is Canada’s classification system for firearms?

Note: The governing Liberal Party is preparing a new classification system.

06 May 2020 (For Members Only): Liberals Plan New Classification Law to ‘Quickly’ Ban New Guns

  • Canadian law assigns guns to one of three made-up classes:
    • “Non-restricted” — rifles and shotguns
    • “Restricted”— handguns (Before 01 May 2020: also included some semi-automatic rifles, e.g., AR-15)
    • “Prohibited”— handguns, semi-automatic and automatic rifles
  • People who own any firearm from any class are highly monitored, regulated and restricted, and must have the class of licence that matches the class of firearm.
  • Many of the world’s most-popular or iconic firearms and standard gear is off-limits to Canadians, e.g. AK-47 rifle (automatic and semi-auto), FN-FAL rifle (auto and semi-auto), Glock 19 pistol (except in its Canadian version), Walther PPK pistol, standard pistol and rifle magazines, …

Who classifies guns?

  • Parliament passes laws that regulate gun ownership and classifications, and the courts and police interpret the law.
  • The law sometimes uses measurable or observable criteria such as barrel length, overall length, design and function, and sometimes uses arbitrary decisions. The government made up a list of makes and models it banned by name. It expanded the list on 01 May 2020.
  • The RCMP gives its opinion on gun classifications based on the law. It sometimes confiscates firearms and jails people based on its own opinions.
  • RCMP: Classifying and Re-Classifying Firearms

Are there different rules for each class?

  • Yes. The law sets out different rules to use, buy, own, store and travel with different classes of firearm.
  • For example, you aren’t allowed to hunt with a handgun or AR-15 in Canada. If you want to legally take a handgun (or AR-15 before 01 May 2020) to the range, the guns must be unloaded, disabled with a trigger lock (or equivalent) and must be in a locked container. You also have to follow a “reasonably direct” route. You could be charged with a crime and go to jail if you take a detour.

Self-Protection


Is it legal to use a firearm for protection and self-defence?

  • Section 34 of the Criminal Code covers the legitimate “use or threat of force” for self-defence and protection in certain situations.
  • Many factors are considered to assess if a response to a threat is justified. Section 34 doesn’t specify the tools or techniques that may or may not be used. See also the Technical Guide for Practitioners.
  • See our articles on self-defence.

How many Canadians carry guns in daily life for safety?


Women


How active are women in shooting?

  • Women are active in shooting and rising, especially handguns, but less numerous than men.
  • Team Canada sent two shooters to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Both were women.
  • The only Team Canada shooter who qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was a woman. (Event delayed for Covid-19.)
  • Women occupy leadership positions in several Canadian shooting organizations.
  • The president of the Shooting Federation of Canada, the only government-recognized body for sport shooting, has been a woman for several years.
  • Many gun stores and shooting ranges are owned and/or managed by women.

Industry & Economy


How big is Canada’s firearm industry?

  • Canada had 4,482 firearm and ammunition businesses at the end of 2018. Most are independent small businesses.
  • Almost all guns and related gear sold in Canada are imported, so the best/only measure of the firearm market is Statistics Canada data on firearm, ammunition and parts imports.
  • Companies brought in more than 334,000 guns in 2019, with an import value exceeding $150 million. At a hypothetical 25% markup plus tax, that would retail for more than $200 million.
  • Guns are one small part of shooting and hunting. You also need ammunition, bags, cases, locks, safes, ear and eye protection, cleaning supplies, targets, sights and scopes, holsters, slings, extra cartridge magazines and other parts and accessories. Add range membership, course tuition, match fees, hunting permits, insurance, fuel, plus money for coffee, restaurants and hotels, hotels, etc. It can be quite a personal investment.
  • Canadians spent $8.5 billion on hunting and sport shooting in 2018, the Edmonton Journal reported in August 2019, citing the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association.
  • Hunters Invest $300 Mln/Year in Saskatchewan, StarPhoenix Says

Firearm Imports: Interactive Charts


Crime & Violence


What is the relation between guns and crime?

The lawful shooting community of “Good Guys” (hunters, sport shooters, farmers, ranchers, collectors…) is completely separate from the criminal community of violent street gangs and individuals, the “Bad Guys.”

  • It’s like if someone asked: “What’s the relation between parents who drive their kids to school and carjackers?” Or, “What’s the relation between people who use phones to say, ‘I love you,’ and people who use phones to plan attacks?” Both use cars and phones, but that’s about it. It would be absurd to regulate car and phone owners under the Criminal Code because of a few “Bad Guys.”
  • Many laws try to reduce violence by criminal “Bad Guys” (who disobey the law) through restrictions on “Good Guy” hunters, farmers and target shooters (who obey the law). It doesn’t work, so more restrictions are added, which still don’t work, and so on.
  • Street crime tends to be committed by individuals and gangs who get shotguns, rifles and handguns on the black market (smuggling and stealing). It’s almost unheard of for a licensed gun owner to be involved with violent criminals.
  • Recommended: Dangerous Fallacies at the Heart of the Gun Debate
  • 459,538 Canadians have court-ordered prohibitions on possessing guns.
  • Homicide: (This is 2017 data.) Fatal stabbings exceeded fatal shootings in 7 of the past 10 years. Shooting overtook stabbing as the leading method of homicide in 2016, led by gang murders in Toronto and Vancouver. Note: StatsCan includes flare guns, nail guns, pellet guns and other non-firearms in its totals for “firearm-related homicide.” Canada had 266 “firearm-related” homicides in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.
  • Suicide: The leading methods of suicide are (1) hanging (44%), including strangulation and suffocation; (2) poisoning (25%) and (3) shooting (16%).
  • Compare: Doctor and nurse errors: Almost 30,000 deaths per year. Vehicles: 2,000 killed, 10,000 seriously injured, 160,000 total injured per year.
  • 2018 Nov: Gang Shooting Homicide Rate Doubles Since Liberals Took Office

Why do so many people oppose gun bans?

  • Prohibitions and confiscations (“bans”) don’t stop “Bad Guys.” If someone wants to hurt you, they will find a way to do it with or without guns. Murder and violence are already illegal, right? Bans prevent the “Good Guys” from protecting ourselves.
  • Canada has one of the world’s most-restrictive, convoluted and complex legal frameworks for firearm owners. As many countries (especially in Europe) simplify their rules, Canada is going the other way.
  • All guns are banned already for everyone without a firearm licence authorized by the federal police (RCMP). Buying, selling, or having any gun without a licence can land you in jail.
  • Licensed owners are “Good Guys” who take our moral and legal responsibilities seriously.
  • Any new bans would affect only lawful, licensed, legitimate men and women who hunt and shoot safely and responsibly.
  • The existing bans don’t affect the “Bad Guys,” and new ones wouldn’t either. Street gangs, drug dealers, murderers and terrorists disobey the law. They go out of the way to avoid the law. They don’t ask for police permission to own guns, and they don’t turn in their guns to the police for bans.

Public Sources & Resources


Much of the info and analysis on this page is based on our original research. Most government documents focus only on crime and have almost zero data or statistics on the lawful use of firearms.

Here are some sources and resources:

RCMP

Statistics Canada

TheGunBlog.ca