Liberal Gun Bans

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his governing Liberal Party promised the biggest series of gun confiscations in Canadian history.

The plans threaten to jail hundreds of thousands of safe and responsible men and women unless they surrender their firearms.

Trudeau is targeting people among the 2.2 million adults with a federal firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) who use guns for protection, hunting, plinking, competing, collecting and other lawful, legitimate uses. His plan will also seize guns from stores.

Newest update of this page: 04 April 2020

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Confiscation Plan Highlights


Against Rifle Owners

  • Forced surrender of about 250,000 hunting and sporting rifles
    • Mainly “Non-restricted” models
    • Includes owners of
      • 75,000+ “Restricted” AR-15 target rifles
      • 10,000+ “Non-restricted” CZ 858 rifles
      • 6,000+ “Non-restricted” Ruger Mini-14 rifles
    • Unknown if confiscations include “Prohibited” models
  • Two years to comply, or risk jail
  • Government will offer to pay off confiscation victims
  • Other options, not mentioned in the policy: leave the country with your guns or sell them abroad. These would require specific Authorizations To Transport and authorizations to export that may or may not be granted.


Against Handgun Owners

  • Allow municipalities to expel handgun owners and stores through new prohibitions and restrictions. (“Handgun ban”)
  • More than 260,000 men and women are registered with the RCMP as owning at least one handgun.


Against All PAL/RPAL Holders

  • New restrictions and prohibitions on home gun possession. (Trudeau instructed Blair to “strengthen safe-storage laws.”)
  • Could affect every individual or family with guns among the 2.2 million licence holders.


Sources of Data and Information

  • Trudeau’s mandate letter to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair
  • Liberal campaign plan
  • Statements by Trudeau and Blair covered by the media
  • Independent research and estimates by

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Key Dates

  • 20 Sep 2019: Trudeau outlines his confiscation plans in Election 2019
  • 13 Dec 2019: Trudeau details his instructions to Blair in his mandate letter
  • 11 Mar 2020: Blair reiterates plan to order mass confiscations, NFA reports
  • 04 April 2020: Liberals Say New Restrictions on Gun Owners ‘Remain a Crucial Priority


Key Quote

  • “We’re taking the strongest step in Canadian history to move forward on tougher gun legislation,” Trudeau said Oct. 1 during the campaign.


Trudeau Mandate Letter to Blair (Excerpt)

I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:

  • With support from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, implement our firearms policy commitments, including to:
    • Amend Canada’s firearms laws to ban all military-style assault rifles, with an associated buyback program and two-year amnesty;
    • Work with provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns;
    • Update firearms licence requirements for ammunition imports, strengthen safe-storage laws, develop a mechanism for suspending licences for those who pose a danger to themselves or others, continue to build a national system that allows for the flagging of bulk purchases of firearms, impose stronger penalties for gun smuggling, provide the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with additional resources to detect and stop gun smuggling, and work to limit by regulation the glorification of violence in firearms marketing and sales; and
    • Continue to protect the rights of hunters and farmers. There will not be a return of the long-gun registry.

Source: Trudeau Mandate Letter to Blair, Published 13 Dec. 2019


Key Targets

  • Trudeau’s confiscations target hundreds of thousands of individuals and families among the 2.2 million men and women with a federal firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) authorized by the federal police (RCMP).
  • Everyone is banned already from buying, selling or having any gun unless they have a licence authorized by the federal police.
  • None of the new bans target violent offenders or gangs who obtain or use firearms illegally.


Key Challenges

No Legitimacy, No Enforcement, No Compliance

Any move against lawful Canadian families will face challenges and likely fail.

  • Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario are among provinces that oppose bans and support hunters and sport shooters.
  • Police leaders across the country oppose gun bans.
  • Legal specialists question the constitutionality of handing federal powers to municipalities.
  • The government hasn’t said how it will inform hundreds of people across the country that they risk jail unless they surrender their gear.
  • Canada’s gun laws are complex, confusing and controversial. New restrictions have historically resulted in low compliance (e.g. the PAL system), often because the restrictions didn’t serve any purpose or people didn’t know about them or how to comply, or didn’t want to.
  • The government hasn’t said how it will finance the billions of dollars in administrative, legal, police, court and prison costs to set up, process and enforce any bans.


Key Details of Rifle Confiscation

  • How Many. CBC News quoted Minister Bill Blair on 20 Sept. 2019 as saying licensed owners have about 250,000 of the rifles he wants to confiscate.
  • Legal Classification. Mainly “Non-restricted,” many “Restricted,” unknown if also “Prohibited.”
    • The math: RCMP data provided to show individuals owned 112,538 “Restricted” and “Prohibited” rifles as of 30 April 2019. If Trudeau orders every one of those illegal to own, it would leave 137,000 “Non-restricteds” to be confiscated to reach the total of 250,000.
  • Which Models. The government named the AR-15 target rifle (more than 75,000), and has suggested the bans will include owners of CZ 858 (more than 10,000) and Ruger Mini-14 rifles (more than 6,000).
  • Who Owns Them. The rifles will be confiscated from people such as hunters, farmers, ranchers, plinkers, sport shooters and firearm collectors.
  • How Long to Surrender. Two years to comply, according to the Liberal Party backgrounder below.
  • Legality of Use After Ban Order. The government hasn’t said if owners will be allowed to use their rifles during the two-year amnesty after the prohibition order is issued.
  • Budget. CBC News quoted Blair as saying Sept. 20 the confiscation program will cost $400 million to $600 million. A Liberal staffer was quoted as telling iPolitics the government will offer to pay owners who surrender their rifles $250 million.
    • This leaves out the expenses to prepare, plan, organize, administer and enforce the mass confiscations-incarcerations, likely to cost billions of dollars.
  • Unknown
    • More Details. The government has refused to give details such as which owners are targeted, and which firearms, based on legal classification, ammo ignition type (centrefire, rimfire), operation (e.g., auto, semi-auto, pump, lever, bolt, etc.), or calibre.
    • Start Date. The government has refused to say when it will issue the confiscation order.
    • Cost. The government has declined to give specifics on the cost of the confiscations and prohibitions, and how it will pay for them.


Key Steps for Rifle Confiscation

Source: The Liberals refuse to give details.

  1. Order firearm prohibition (via Order In Council): Make it a crime to buy, sell, transfer, transport, import, export, … about 250,000 rifles currently owned by individuals and stores. Turns “Non-restricted” and “Restricted” guns into “Prohibited” safe queens.
  2. Request parliamentary budget approval to pay confiscation victims. This was expected in the Spring 2020 budget. The COVID-19 pandemic may change things.
  3. Order firearm surrender (via Order In Council, legislation in parliament, or some other mechanism): Make it a crime to possess, with two-year amnesty on criminal charges. The amnesty is to give the Liberals time for steps 3 and 4.
  4. Pass new legislation to pay confiscation victims.
  5. Enforce


Key Articles

More Articles


Key Resources



Liberal Election 2019 Platform


Liberal Party Backgrounder