Restricted Firearms in Canada

Hunting season is upon us, which means it is important to understand what types of firearms are legal and illegal under federal law. Because ignorance of the law will not excuse you from being charged with a firearm-related offence, knowing the law is a must.

Prohibited Firearms

Several types of weapons are prohibited under the Criminal Code. These include:

  • Handguns with a barrel length equal to or less than 105 mm, or one that has been designed or adapted to fire a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge
  • Shotguns or rifles altered to be less than 660 mm long, or a shotgun or rifle adapted to be 660 mm or greater in length with a barrel less than 457 mm in length
  • All automatic firearms, regardless of whether they have been altered to only discharge one round at a time

Grandfather Status

In some cases, an individual can own a prohibited firearm if he or she owned it prior to December 1, 1998. To qualify for grandfather status, the owner must maintain an active Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) for the prohibited firearm.

Furthermore, a PAL only permits an individual to own prohibited firearms in the same category (or categories) as the firearms currently registered to them and only if the firearms in question were registered prior to December 1, 1998. Once a PAL expires, it cannot be renewed; the firearm owner must take care to renew the licence before it expires.

Weapons laws can be quite complicated. If you are a hunter or firearm owner concerned about your rights, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to make sure you are in compliance with the law.

Ottawa, Ontario Criminal Defence

Criminal defence lawyers Bruce Engel and Elena Davies have represented individuals and businesses charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Canada for more than two decades. From the start of a criminal investigation to the close of a trial, we will take a balanced and forceful approach to your defence. We have the experience and know-how to effectively navigate the constantly changing justice system in Canada.


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Engel & Associates
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