Canada’s Gun Laws
Newest Update of This Page: 19 April 2023
Main Reference Page: TheGunBlog.ca/Reference
- Canadian politicians designed the law to suppress gun users and gun owners.
- Gun owners and users are regulated by federal criminal law, as well as provincial and municipal restrictions.
- Lawful gun use is recognized in federal criminal law with severe restrictions.
2. Anti-Gun Regime
- The laws and regulations are designed to make it easy to criminalize gun users and confiscate their firearms, and to make it difficult to get and use firearms legally.
- The anti-gun policy regime violates fundamental principles of justice relating to process, privacy and personal protection.
- Although policies specifically targeting gun users depend in theory on the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in reality they often negate Constitutional rights and freedoms.
- Personal gun ownership falls under criminal law, primarily the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, an add-on to the Criminal Code.
- The governing Liberal Party, in office since late 2015, is working to further suppress government-licensed gun users and eliminate lawful gun ownership. (See: Liberal Gun Bans)
- Despite all of the above, more than 2 million adults have a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) allowing them to buy and own certain government-approved guns.
3. Why It Matters
- Complex:The laws are so complex, convoluted and confusing that they overwhelm many lawyers, judges and private firearm users.
- Costly: Developing, adopting and enforcing all the rules costs hundreds of millions of dollars every year, with little or no evidence of benefit. TheGunBlog.ca asked the Department of Justice and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for any evaluations or audits of the legislative and policy framework. None were provided.
- Criminalizing: Millions of safe and responsible hunters, farmers, ranchers, plinkers, competitors, gun collectors and business owners live under the constant threat of criminal charges or jail for the slightest misstep, such as missing a document or missing a document-renewal deadline.
4. Perpetual Prohibition Threat
Criminal Code Section 117.15 is a sword over the neck of Canada’s gun users.
- It authorizes the prime minister and cabinet to arbitrarily and unilaterally prohibit (and eventually confiscate) any firearm any time by decree through a so-called “order in council.”
- Cabinet is allowed to prohibit any firearm anytime if, in its opinion, the firearm is unreasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used this authority for one of the biggest mass confiscations in Canadian history on 01 May 2020.
4.1 Criminal Code Section 117.15 (Excerpt)
117.15 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Governor in Council may make regulations prescribing anything that by this Part is to be or may be prescribed.
(2) In making regulations, the Governor in Council may not prescribe any thing to be a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or prohibited ammunition if, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, the thing to be prescribed is reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.
—Source: Criminal Code, Section 117.15
5. Criminalized By Vagueness and Ambiguity
The laws and regulations include many vague and undefined terms to make it easier to criminally charge firearm owners, even if they didn’t do anything immoral or harmful.
- “reasonable” for hunting and sport shooting (in relation to firearm legality)
- “readily accessible” ammunition (in relation to firearm storage)
- “reasonably direct” route (in relation to firearm transportation)
- “variant” of a firearm (in relation to firearm classification)
6. Main Anti-Gun Legislation
6.1 Regulations Made Under the Criminal Code
- Antique Firearms, Regulations Prescribing (SOR/98-464)
- Designated Areas Firearms Order (C.R.C., c. 430)
- Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted (SOR/98-462)
- Regulations Prescribing Exclusions from Certain Definitions of the Criminal Code (International Sporting Competition Handguns) (SOR/98-465) (TheGunBlog.ca added this item to the list on 29 April 2021.)
- Regulations Amending the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted(SOR/2020-96) [TheGunBlog.ca added this item to the list on 23 February 2022.]
6.2 Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act
- Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms) (SOR/98-205)
- Authorizations to Carry Restricted Firearms and Certain Handguns Regulations (SOR/98-207)
- Authorizations to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms Regulations (SOR/98-206)
- Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons Regulations (SOR/98-202)
- Firearms Fees Regulations (SOR/98-204)
- Firearms Information Regulations (Non-restricted Firearms) (SOR/2012-138)
- Firearms Licences Regulations (SOR/98-199)
- Firearms Marking Regulations [Not in force] (SOR/2004-275)
- Firearms Records Regulations (SOR/98-213)
- Firearms Records Regulations (Classification) (SOR/2014-198)
- Firearms Registration Certificates Regulations (SOR/98-201)
- Importation and Exportation of Firearms Regulations (Businesses) [Not in force] (SOR/98-214)
- Importation and Exportation of Firearms Regulations (Individuals) (SOR/98-215)
- Public Agents Firearms Regulations (SOR/98-203)
- Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Firearms Act SOR/2022-219
- Shooting Clubs and Shooting Ranges Regulations (SOR/98-212)
- Special Authority to Possess Regulations (Firearms Act) (SOR/98-208)
- Storage, Display and Transportation of Firearms and Other Weapons by Businesses Regulations (SOR/98-210)
- Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations (SOR/98-209)
6.3 Regulations Made Under the Export and Import Permits Act
- Automatic Firearms Country Control List (SOR/91-575)
7. More Resources
- Government Comments on Using OICs to Prohibit/Confiscate Guns
- Dangerous Fallacies at the Heart of the Gun Debate
- PAL Application Form Written as a Letter (Humour)
- A Canadian Approach to Public Safety (Humour)
- The ‘Public Safety’ Lie (And Some Personal Safety Truths)
- Gun Owners and the Charter of Rights After 35 Years: Some Links
- FirearmsLaw.ca: Gun Control Legislation in Canada
- RCMP: History of Firearm Restrictions in Canada