Canada Gun Imports

Reference / Canada Gun Imports

Newest Update of This Page: 06 September 2023

Overview — Canada’s 2.3 million adults with a federal firearm licence buy more than 1,000 new guns every day on average, and almost all of them are imported.

  • Canada is almost entirely dependent on other countries to supply its citizens with gear for protection, hunting, and sport shooting.
  • Statistics Canada publishes data on firearm imports every month as part of its broader coverage of international trade.
  • Firearm imports are highly restricted. You must have government approval to legally import, export, buy, sell, or transfer the ownership of any firearm in Canada.

Why Imports Matter

Import statistics are one of the only publicly available economic indicators of the firearm industry.

  • Imports show if industry is growing or shrinking.
  • Gun importers, distributors and retailers order more when they expect sales to rise, and order less when they expect sales to fall.
  • Imports can vary widely depending on product availability, shipping times, and currency fluctuations.

Import statistics are the only publicly available indicator of overall buying trends.

  • Imports reflect what people are buying, since almost every imported gun eventually ends up in someone’s home. (Government, police and military orders are tiny relative to private demand.)
  • If consumers want more of a product, companies order more.
  • If consumers buy less, companies order less.

Imports indirectly reveal long-term trends, not the current market.

  • The deliveries StatCan reports each month are the shipments from orders that were placed three to nine months before, based on the business outlook at the time.
  • Statistics Canada publishes the data at least a month after the goods arrive. The data are based on information gathered by Canada Border Services Agency.
  • Trends in individual gun licences and firearm registrations also provide insight into the firearm market.

Import Value Vs. Economic Value Vs. Retail Value

Economic Value

  • The economic value of hunters and sport shooters goes far beyond the guns, ammo, and parts that we buy.
  • A trip to the range could include range fees, match fees, gas, food, ear protection, eye protection, gloves, optics, belts, holsters, magazine carriers, hats, locks, cases and clothes.
  • A hunting trip could include many of those, plus travel, lodging, hunting permits, guides, vehicle rental (ATV, canoe, sled, …), game calls, trail cams, knives, tents, sleeping gear, insurance …

Retail Value

  • The retail value of firearms is roughly 25% more than the import value.
  • You also need to add any federal and provincial taxes to calculate the selling price of any specific firearm.

Limitations of Import Data

  • Firearm-import statistics don’t reflect Canada’s domestic firearm manufacture, which is relatively small.
  • They don’t reflect the used market. Canadians buy and sell about twice as many used guns as new guns.
  • The listed place of origin in firearm-import statistics isn’t necessarily the same as place of manufacture.
  • StatsCan’s classification for firearm “parts and accessories” doesn’t include everything. Some items have their own category.

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