Rifle Bans, Handgun Bans, and More

The Government of Canada has made it clear that there will shortly be actions on banning certain rifles, and future legislation that may allow cities to ban handguns.

It is thought that the preferred instrument for the rifle ban would be an "order in council" -- a type of legislation that does not require a debate before Parliament because the existing Firearms Act already has regulatory language that permits classification by this method.

As you may already know, firearms to which licencing applies in Canada are all regulated into one of three classes: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Firearms that do not require a licence include such things as low velocity pellet guns, and some black powder muzzleloaders.

Non-restricted firearms include a wide variety of so-called "long" guns, rifles and shotguns commonly used for hunting and sport shooting, as well as collecting, protection against wildlife, and even occupational uses. Restricted firearms include mainly handguns, but certain rifles and shotguns that are generally semi-automatics within the "AR-15" family and similar types of firearms commonly used for military and law enforcement purposes.

Finally, prohibited firearms can include a wide variety of handguns, rifles and shotguns that, for one reason or another, the government has deemed not desirable for civilian ownership.

Reclassification of a firearm into a more restricted category can either be done by the RCMP, which is tasked with determining the class of a new firearm, or in some cases reviewing the existing classification, or by the government of the day passing an "order in council" to name the firearm model and variants as one of the three classifications.

Exact regulations have not yet been announced, but gun control groups have named the Ruger Mini-14 (Cabela's Canada, $1,239.99) as one of the models of firearms they would like to see classed as prohibited (most models are currently non-restricted).

Another firearm likely slated for prohibition could be all models of the SKS (Cabela's Canada, $189-$399), which is another magazine-fed semi-automatic in a larger calibre.

There is no telling when these new changes could be put into effect, but as they do not require Parliamentary debate to take effect, there is no need for the government to await Parliament to sit, and it is expected they will rise for the holidays shortly. In practical terms, however, clerks responsible for drafting the regulations will likely also get a holiday break, and so it would be realistic to expect these changes no sooner than February of next year.

For those hoping to own one of these rifles before the axe comes down, time is running short.

The government has not clearly stated so yet, but owners of these firearms may be grandfathered (allowed to keep owning them) if past experience is indicative. Otherwise, keep your sales receipts, as there has also been talk of compensation being given for turning the firearms in.

Keep in mind as well that regulations are just as easily overturned by future governments with differing policies.