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Unauthorized importation of over-capacity cartridge magazines for retail sale

Special Business Bulletin No. 86

June 11, 2013

Capacity limits for magazines are listed in Part 4 of the Criminal Code of Canada’s Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (SOR/98-642) (“The Regulations”). Cartridge magazines over the applicable capacity limits are prohibited devices in Canada.

Prohibited devices may be possessed by a firearms business, but the business must be licensed to possess such items for a specific “prescribed purpose”. The prescribed purposes authorizing a business to possess prohibited firearms, prohibited weapons, prohibited devices or prohibited ammunition are found in section 22 of the Firearms Licences Regulations of the Firearms Act. Applications for such purposes must be approved by the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for the province in which the business is situated.

Businesses cannot possess magazines with a cartridge capacity over the legal limits set out in the Regulations, with the intention to “pin” them (to permanently alter or re-manufacture them so that they are no longer capable of containing more than five or ten cartridges, as the case may be) for the purpose of retail sales. This is not a prescribed purpose set out in section 22 of the Firearms Licences Regulations. Therefore, the CFO cannot licence a business for this activity, and a business cannot legally acquire over capacity magazines and then pin these magazines back to five or ten rounds for the purpose of selling them to clients. 

Cartridge magazines may only be imported into Canada for the purpose of retail sales if they are already within the legal capacity limits. 

The alteration or re-manufacturing of a magazine so that it is not capable of containing more than five or ten cartridges is described at sub-section 3(4) and 3(5) of Part 4 of the Regulations.

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