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Canada’s Handgun Ban: What You Need To Know

This article contains information about proposed legislative changes that was accurate on May 31, 2022. Changes may have occurred since then and the information may now be out of date. The article is archived and intended for information purposes only.

On May 30, 2022, the Prime Minister of Canada announced a sweeping new gun control bill, Bill C-21, which will have a large impact on individual firearm ownership.

The most important thing to know about this Bill is that it is not yet law.

As of today, you can still own, purchase, transfer, and sell a restricted handgun in Canada. The proposed legislation will cease the issuance of new registration certificates for handguns to individuals on the day it comes into effect, which will be at some point in the future should the bill pass in its current form.

However, the changes are quite massive.

  • Private individuals will not be able to purchase, inherit, or otherwise register handguns after the law passes. The ones they have will remain in their possession, and in effect this is similar to the 1977 gun ban that affected automatics and converted automatics — those owners were “grandfathered” into keeping what became prohibited firearms, but those firearms would eventually be destroyed or surrendered as owners died
  • Only “exempt individuals” would be able to continue to register new handguns. The bill’s language limits this to certain Olympic sponsored competitors
  • The existing “red flag law” that relied on public safety complaints being investigated by police will be upended. Now any person may initiate a red flag complaint. In effect, if a any person believes a firearm owner is a public safety risk, they may directly cause the ex parte court process that leads to your firearm licence suspension and the seizure of all your firearms. This change circumvents the existing reliance on police to bring forward these public safety concerns after an investigation
  • A new offence for making a firearm magazine into a prohibited one (over 5 cartridges in capacity) – this is in addition to the already existing law that made it a crime to possess such a prohibited device
  • Clarifies the definition of “replica firearm” to include airsoft – which effectively bans this non-firearm sport completely

There are other minor and technical changes as well, but the highlights above are the most salient.

What Do These Changes Mean for CFSC/CRFSC Courses?

Nothing in the new bill changes the licencing or classification system for firearms in Canada. You may still apply for and have a restricted PAL, and handguns are still classes as restricted firearms.

You can still take a CRFSC course, because even if the bill becomes law, businesses that have handguns will still be able to keep them. Armed security and armoured car services will still employ licenced individuals, and those individuals will still require a restricted PAL in order to carry the firearm given to them by the licences business for the purposes of their occupation.

Nothing in the new law seems to (so far) restricted the practice of gun ranges renting firearms to licenced and unlicenced individuals who wish to use their ranges and shoot those handguns. You would still be able to, for example, pay for a daily pass at a gun range that offers them and pay to rent and shoot a handgun on the premises. If you have a restricted PAL, you could do this without the need for the gun club to provide a range staff member to supervise you directly.

Also, the new legislation does not change any other restricted firearm status. So for the few firearms that fall under short barrelled, semi-automatic, centre-fire rifles/shotguns, or that remain on the regulation under “restricted firearms”, you would still be able to purchase, transfer and own these firearms.

What Can You Do Now?

If you disagree with the contents of Bill C-21, and believe that handgun ownership and handgun shooting sports deserve a future in Canada, you should contact your Member of Parliament and register your disagreement with the proposed law.

This bill effectively kills all manner of handgun shooting sports, including PPC, IPSC, IDPA, Cowboy Action Shooting, Bullseye, and many others. All of these shooting disciplines have a long and very safe history in Canada going back many, many years. Participants come from all walks of life, and compete in communities all around Canada and even internationally. Bill C-21 prevents existing competitors from buying new handguns or selling and transferring handguns to other members of the sport. Youths who are interested in joining these competitions will not be able to purchase their own firearms or compete locally or internationally.

You may also wish to consider contacting one of Canada’s major firearm interest groups and legislative action groups, such as the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA), the National Firearms Association (NFA), or the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR).

Licenced handgun owners have never been a concern for law enforcement and crime policy. Firearm licence holders are already well vetted, well trained in safety and storage requirements, and are a net positive to the community. They engage in a safe and legal sporting activity. The existing laws work effectively to reduce misuse of firearms. Control measures for handguns in Canada are already some of the most stringent in the world.

Act now to save the future of handgun shooting sports. Tell your MP that you do not support this unjustified attack on legal gun owners.