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Many people choose to keep firearms and other weapons in their possession for a number of reasons, including to use for hunting or self-defence. Fortunately for these people, Canadian gun law is relatively flexible and lenient. However, a negative side effect of this flexibility is that some Canadians are left with many unanswered questions about laws relating to firearm regulations and weapon possession. If you want to learn more about weapon possession regulations, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

What are the three classes for firearms in Canada?

In Canada, the three classes of firearms are non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. Rifles and shotguns are non-restricted firearms, but there are a few exceptions. Restricted firearms include some handguns, rifles and shotguns with barrels shorter than 470 mm, and rifles and shotguns that are capable of firing after being reduced in length to less than 660 mm. Some examples of prohibited firearms are full automatics, converted automatics, and rifles and shotguns altered to have a barrel length that is less than 457 mm.

The main difference between the classes is that non-restricted firearms do not have to be registered while restricted and prohibited firearms do, according to the Firearms Act.

Is there a difference between licensing and registration?

A firearms license allows an individual to have a firearm in their possession. In order to obtain a firearms license, an individual must meet stringent requirements. Registration is only necessary for the ownership of restricted and prohibited firearms. The purpose of registration is to link a certain firearm to its owner for easy tracking, if necessary.

Is it too late for gun owners to apply for licensing or registration?

Individuals who own firearms yet aren’t registered or licensed can apply for both without penalty. Law officials are willing to work with Canadian citizens to help them comply with the law. However, if peace officers find you in possession of a firearm without a license or registration, you can expect to face penalties. Therefore, it is better for you to take the initiative than the other way around.

What is the maximum number of cartridges that a firearm magazine can legally hold?

In general, the most a firearm magazine in your possession can legally hold is five cartridges. However, for most handgun magazines, 10 cartridges is the legal maximum. If you alter a large-capacity magazine so that it cannot hold more than five or 10 cartridges, it is not considered illegal to possess.

What is the sentence for not reporting lost firearms in Ontario?

In Canada, the failure to report a found firearm is considered a criminal offense. Individuals who are convicted of this may face up to five years in prison. While it is illegal for individuals to be in possession of a gun without registration or licensing, individuals are exempt from being convicted of this offense as long as they report the firearm or legally dispose of it in a reasonable period of time.

Are individuals who have been convicted of crimes in the past permitted to possess firearms?

According to the mandatory 109 Order, individuals who commit crimes involving violence, harassment, and weapon offenses shall be prohibited from possessing firearms, restricted weapons, crossbows, explosives, and ammo for a minimum of 10 years. These individuals will also be prohibited from possessing restricted weapons and firearms for life. In other situations, the 110 Order permits a judge to ban an individual from possessing firearms and weapons in interest of the safety of the public and the accused. S. 110 is discretionary for five years.

Due to the flexibility of gun law in Canada, residents can have many questions about firearm regulations and weapon possession. If you have a question that wasn’t answered above, please contact us »