REVISION. Though transporting an unloaded non-restricted firearm remains legal throughout Canada in accordance with the existing regulations, many firearms that were formerly non-restricted were made prohibited under an order-in-council on May 1, 2020.
For some time now, many legal gun owners have taken to carrying a "truck gun" - even here in Canada. Now with Coronavirus scares, we are seeing reports of an increase on gun and ammunition sales as concerned preppers stock up "just in case".
With more news coverage these days about viral pandemics, this may be a good opportunity to visit this aspect of personal preparedness with some perspective on the practicality and legality of having a firearm in the vehicle more often than one might usually, such as if they were not perhaps on their way to hunt or target shoot.
DISCLAIMER: This article is NOT intended to be taken as legal advice, although we will explore the legality by highlighting the current CFSC training material on "transport" of firearms. The author is not a lawyer, and the article is intended for information purposes only. The reader should conduct their own research and consult expert legal advice.
Can you have a "truck gun" in your vehicle? Why yes. The Storage, Transportation, Display and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations permit a licenced gun owner to transport firearms in a vehicle. How that transport occurs, and whether any documentation is required, depends on the legal classification of the firearm.
For non-restricted firearms, such as most shotguns and rifles, the firearm simply needs to be unloaded. That's it.
There is no requirement to apply a secure locking device, fix the firearm into any bracket, holder or rack, nor cover it from view. Only when the vehicle and firearm are left unattended must it be locked in a trunk, or in the case of vehicles without trunks, hidden from view and the vehicle locked.
Suffice it to say, the firearm owner must always have their Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) on their person any time they have possession of a firearm.
The regulations do not speak to where the ammunition must be kept, other than it must not be in the firearm.
Having a firearm in the vehicle means first and foremost being concerned with safely conveying that firearm. A firearm should never be loaded while in a vehicle, and it should be transported in a way that keeps it secure and maintains the muzzle in a safe direction.
The ammunition should be kept far away from the firearm, and the firearm should not be easily accessible by anyone else in the vehicle, particularly those who do not have a firearm licence.
Having a bracket or rack is a practical solution to keeping a truck gun from becoming a missile that could cause injury to occupants in the event of a crash. Cabela's offers a reasonably priced seat-back carrier system, that ensures your firearms are readily available when needed, but also securely fastened while being transported.
A firearm is a useful tool, but it will always be deemed a weapon in law, and in an area where game are located, could always arouse suspicions of game officers who are on the watch for poachers.
A "truck gun" in a vehicle that is used for hunting, in an area where hunting takes place, but when no game is in season, could be highly suspect and earn a poaching investigation.
A firearm left unattended in a vehicle is susceptible to theft attempts - which is why they must be left out of sight. It is important to take every reasonable step to reduce the likelihood of detection, perhaps by not being observed placing it in the vehicle, leaving shooting equipment, range bags or boxes of ammunition in view, and foregoing the firearms branded bumper stickers.
Leaving a firearm in an unattended vehicle for any lengthy period of time may also imply "storage" instead of transportation. To err on the side of caution and avoid legal liability, it is best to apply a trigger lock or cable lock to any firearm that is left in an unattended vehicle for a prolonged period. This method meets the storage requirements under the regulations, and goes beyond the more relaxed transportation requirements, which do not require a secure locking device.
The safest place for firearms is always under the control of a responsible person, or unloaded and securely locked away. However, for those who want to balance security of their firearm, and their own security and preservation, transporting a firearm in their vehicle on a more frequent basis - together with their "get home bag" or other essential survival preparedness supplies, such as a first aid kit, food, water, shelter, and means of communication, may make sense.
A "truck gun" - carried safely and responsibly - may be a part of that emergency preparedness solution.
Still need a firearms safety course (CFSC) in order to apply for your PAL? Check our list of upcoming courses!