Here is a brief description of the current Gun Control laws that we have here in Canada:
Non-restricted firearms are those that you would expect to see if you were out hunting. They include any firearms that are not already classified as restricted or prohibited, and have an overall length of 26 inches or more and have a barrel length of 18 inches or more. There are a few exceptions to the barrel length rule, but I’ll get into that later.
Restricted firearms include those that have overall lengths less than 26 inches and barrels less than 18 inches. So no handgun, for example, could ever be classified as non-restricted as it is too short. Certain military styled firearms that meet the requirements for non-restricted are also classified as restricted by name. Popular examples are the AR-15 and the G-36.
Prohibited firearms include all fully automatic firearms, any handgun that has a barrel length of less than 4.2 inches, any handgun that is designed to shoot .25 or .32 calibre ammunition, and certain military styled rifles that have been prohibited by name. Popular examples include the AK-47 and the MP-5.
So what do the classifications mean?
You may hunt with, target shoot with and transport any non-restricted firearm anywhere that it is legal to do so. Technically, you can carry a non-restricted rifle with you where ever you go, so long as you only load it where it is legal to discharge it. So it would need to be unloaded if you were in your car, in town or anywhere else that you are generally not allowed to shoot a gun. Obviously, it is not a good idea to carry a rifle while going for a stroll downtown as you will attract a lot of unwanted attention from the police, but it is legal to do so.
Restricted firearms, on the other hand, may not be used for hunting and may only be used at, and transported to and from, an approved range. On top of that, you also need an ATT (Authorization To Transport) from the local Firearms Office to do so.
Prohibited firearms are all the guns that government wants to get rid of. They decided that it would be too costly to confiscate them all, so they decided that the people who already owned them could keep them, but when they died, the guns would have to be turned in and destroyed. You can still get an ATT for prohibited handguns to take them to the range for target shooting, but not for prohibited rifles.
Barrel length exceptions
As I mentioned earlier, there are a few exceptions to the barrel length laws:
– semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and shotguns must have a barrel length of more than 18.5 inches to remain non-restricted (does not apply to semi-automatic rimfire rifles)
– non-restricted, non-semi-automatic, rifles and shotguns (along with semi-automatic rimfire rifles) may have barrel lengths of less than 18 inches (providing the overall length remains more than 26 inches) as long as the barrel was manufactured that way from the factory
All semi-automatic centre-fire rifle magazines are limited to 5 rounds of ammunition. All handgun magazines are limited to 10 rounds of ammunition. Because the law is worded so that it is the magazine that is being controlled, it has allowed AR-15 owners (and owners of other firearms that use the popular AR-15 magazine) the ability to use 10 round pistol magazines in their rifles. This is because there is a pistol variant of the AR-15 and the magazine designed for the pistol variant will also work in the rifle. There are no limits set for any rimfire rifle magazines.
Non-Restricted firearms must be unloaded, trigger locked or locked in a sturdy container. Ammunition must be stored separately or locked up in the same container as the firearm.
Restricted and Prohibited firearms must be unloaded, trigger locked and locked in a sturdy container. Trigger locks are not required if the firearm is stored in an approved safe. Ammunition must be stored separately or locked up in the same container as the firearm.
To transport non-restricted firearms, they must be unloaded. That’s it. You do have to be aware of Provincial hunting laws however, as they usually require that the firearm be cased when you are not permitted to hunt. If the firearm is left unattended in the vehicle, the firearm must be locked in the trunk. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the vehicle must be locked and the firearm must be out of sight.
Restricted and Prohibited firearms must be unloaded, trigger locked and locked in a sturdy container. The bolt must also be removed from automatic firearms if able. If the firearm is left unattended in the vehicle, the firearm must be locked in the trunk. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the vehicle must be locked and the firearm must be out of sight.
So that, in a nutshell, is a quick look at Gun Control in Canada. The actual laws are obviously quite a bit more wordy and complicated, but this will give you a running start on understanding what we are up against. You’ll notice (especially if you’re American) that there is no mention of Concealed Carry. Canada does have an Authorization To Carry permit (ATC), but unless your job requires you to carry a firearm to protect money (armoured vehicle services) or you work in a remote area where you are considered to be food by the local predators, there’s literally a one in a million chance that you can get one. A good site to learn more about Concealed Carry in Canada and what we can do to make it easier to obtain such a permit is casd.ca.