The use or possession of unregistered firearms or weapons is a criminal offence in Canada and is taken very seriously. Legislation prohibiting owning certain classifications of guns and dictating how individuals can legally use them can be contradictory and confusing, but the sentences for a conviction can be years imprisonment.
In this post, we’ll examine some of Canada’s gun laws and discuss the different classes of weapons and how they relate to licencing. We’ll also look into concealed carry laws and the high penalties for a conviction.
An explanation of Canadian Gun Laws
According to the Criminal Code, Anyone, who “without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons” is deemed a criminal under the Canadian Criminal Code [86 (1)].”
Classes of weapons in Canada
In Canada, firearms and other weapons generally fall into three categories:
- Non-restricted Firearms – These are also called long guns. They are ordinary hunting and sporting rifles, shotguns and some airguns. You need a firearms licence to possess them, and they must be stored and transported according to federal regulations.
- Restricted Firearms – In general, these are handguns, AR-15 rifles and other firearms that don’t meet non-restricted weapon specifications. These require a transport permit to move them from the location where they are registered, and you need an appropriate licence and valid purpose to own these types of weapons. You cannot hunt with restricted weapons.
- Prohibited Firearms – These include any fully automatic firearms or converted automatic weapons and many handguns. Many current firearm owners were allowed to keep their prohibited weapons when new legislation came into effect, but if you do not currently own one, there is no legal way to acquire a prohibited firearm.
The Criminal Code of Canada defines a weapon as “anything intended to threaten someone, or to cause death or injury to a person.” This broad categorization means that almost any object, such as a garden hoe or a frying pan, could potentially be used as a weapon. Apart from firearms, other items are considered Dangerous Weapons by the Canadian government and are restricted. These restricted or prohibited weapons include:
- Pepper spray
- Tear gas or mace
- A knife with a blade that opens automatically with gravity or hand pressure, like a switchblade
- A crossbow
- Brass knuckles
- Spiked wristband
- Yaqua blowgun
- Kiyoga baton or steel cobra
How Does Gun Licencing Work?
In Canada, firearms licensing is federally regulated. To obtain a license, you first have to take a firearms safety course. There is a course for non-restricted firearms and one for restricted firearms for anyone over the age of 18. Once you have passed your safety course, you can pay a fee and apply for a licence. Gun owners will need to renew their license every five years.
According to the RCMP, “A firearms licence shows that the licence holder can possess and use firearms. A registration certificate identifies a firearm and links the firearm to its owner. You need a registration certificate for restricted and prohibited firearms. Usually, if you are in possession of a firearm, you need a licence even if you are not the owner and never handle the firearm.”
Who is entitled to carry a weapon in Canada?
Individuals can apply for an Authorization to Carry (ATC) from the Canadian Firearm Program if they need a gun because of their occupation, such as an armoured car guard or if they work in the remote wilderness and need a weapon for protection from wild animals. There is also an exemption for on-duty police officers, members of the Canadian Forces and certain peace officers or those training to become law enforcement.
What is the penalty for concealed carry in Canada?
Suppose you carry a concealed weapon (CCW) without authorization and are caught. In that case, you can be found guilty of an indictable offence with a sentence of up to five years imprisonment, or you can be found guilty on a summary conviction.
What should I do if I have been accused of concealed carry in Canada?
If you have been charged with carrying a concealed firearm in Canada, it is a very serious charge, and you need help from an experienced criminal lawyer. Weapons laws in Canada can be very complex and contradictory, and you need someone on your side who understands the intricacies of the charges and can help you get the best outcome in your case. William Jaksa has over ten years of experience as a criminal lawyer in Toronto. Contact him today for a consultation on your case.