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Prohibited Firearms

Individuals who possess or wish to acquire a prohibited firearm should consult this information regarding the legal requirements under the Firearms Act.

Definition of a prohibited firearm

According to the Criminal Code, a prohibited firearm is:

  1. a handgun that
    • has a barrel equal to or less than 105 mm in length, or
    • is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge, but does not include any such handgun that is prescribed, where the handgun is for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union,
  2. a firearm that is adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted,
    • is less than 660 mm in length, or
    • is 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length,
  3. an automatic firearm, whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger, or
  4. any firearm that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearm

Summary of key requirements

Individuals are allowed to possess certain prohibited firearms if they had one registered in their name when it became prohibited, and they have continuously held a valid registration certificate for that type of prohibited firearm from December 1, 1998, onward. The Firearms Act refers to this as being "grandfathered".

"Grandfather" status

A Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) allows an individual to acquire only prohibited firearms in the same categories as the ones currently registered to them, and only if the firearms they wish to acquire were registered in Canada on December 1, 1998.

As a general rule, a PAL will indicate what prohibited firearms the licence holder is licensed to acquire by showing the section of the Firearms Act that grandfathers them, as follows:

  • s.12(2): full automatics
  • s.12(3): converted automatics
  • s.12(4): firearms prohibited by former prohibition order No. 12
  • s.12(5): firearms prohibited by former prohibition order No. 13
  • s.12(6): handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less or that discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition. On licences issued on or after April 10, 2005, these firearms will be referred to as 12(6.1) firearms.

Eligibility to acquire a particular prohibited firearm will be confirmed during the transfer process. Grandfathered status allows the possession and acquisition of prohibited firearms that are already registered in Canada, but not the new importation of prohibited firearms into Canada.

Maintaining grandfathered privileges

To stay grandfathered for a particular category of prohibited firearm, an individual must have continuously held a registration certificate for a firearm in that category from December 1, 1998, onward. To be able to hold a registration certificate for a firearm, an individual needs a licence allowing them to possess that class of firearm. It is therefore essential that firearms licences be renewed before they expire.

All registration certificates issued under the former law (prior to December 1, 1998) expired on December 31, 2002, so it was important to have re-registered the firearm(s) under the Firearms Act before the old certificate expired. Contact the CFP for more information or assistance.

Exception to grandfathering

If a person is not grandfathered, the only prohibited firearms they may possess or acquire are handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less or that discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition, and only if all of the following criteria are met:

  • the handgun was made before 1946, and
  • the handgun was registered in Canada on December 1, 1998, and
  • the individual is the child, grandchild, brother, sister or spouse of the lawful owner, and
  • the individual is acquiring it for an approved purpose such as target shooting or as part of a collection.

Under these circumstances, the individual can lawfully acquire and possess the handgun in question, but they are not grandfathered or authorized to acquire more prohibited handguns.

Selling, giving, or lending

An individual can lend a prohibited firearm to anyone with a valid Possession Only Licence (POL) or PAL which authorizes them to possess that particular category of prohibited firearm. If they lend the prohibited firearm, they must lend the registration certificate as well.

They may sell or give a prohibited firearm only to someone with a PAL valid for that category of firearm. When the prohibited firearm changes owners, it must be registered to the new owner. This can be done by calling the CFP or by submitting form RCMP 5492.

Transporting prohibited firearms

All firearms must be unloaded and transported safely to deter loss, theft and accidents. Before transporting a prohibited firearm, it is necessary to obtain an Authorization to Transport (ATT) from the Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) of the province or territory in which the firearm is located. Call the CFP to apply for an ATT or submit form RCMP 5490 and mail or fax it to the relevant CFO.

Firearms must be transported in accordance with the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations. Prohibited handguns may be shipped between two locations in Canada, using the most secure method offered by Canada Post which requires a signature upon delivery. Alternatively, it may be shipped by a carrier company licensed to transport that class of firearm.

For more information on which firearms are restricted or prohibited, please also consult the Criminal Code and the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted.

Information

For more information, contact the CFP.

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.

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