Register your car, why not your gun!

January 15, 2018

In this video. Rod Giltaca discusses the realities of the restricted firearm registry in Canada.

Some examples of confiscation of firearms in Canada:

2010 - RCMP gun confiscations prompt legal fight

2007 – Feds budget $260,000 to seize rifles

1995 – 553,000 registered handguns become prohibited


What was the cost of the Long Gun Registry?

The modern Canadian long gun registry was over $2 Billion by the time it was scrapped by the previous government.  CBC covered the story here:  Gun registry cost soars to $2 billion


History of Canada's gun registry

The first Criminal Code required individuals to have a basic permit, known as a 'certificate of exemption,' to carry a pistol unless the owner had cause to fear assault or injury. It became an offence to sell a pistol to anyone under 16. Vendors who sold pistols or airguns had to keep a record of the purchaser's name, the date of the sale and information that could identify the gun.

Carrying a handgun outside the home or place of business without a permit could result in a three-month sentence. It became an offence to transfer a firearm to any person under the age of 16, or for a person under 16 to buy one. The first specific search, seizure and forfeiture powers for firearms and other weapons were created.

A Criminal Code amendment required individuals to obtain a permit to possess a firearm, regardless of where the firearm was kept. These permits were available from a magistrate, a chief of police or the RCMP. British subjects did not need a permit for shotguns or rifles they already owned; they only needed one for newly acquired firearms. Permits were valid for one year within the issuing province. The Criminal Code did not provide for a central registry; records were maintained at the local level.

A Criminal Code amendment repealed the requirement for everyone in possession of a firearm to have a permit. Instead, only 'aliens' needed a permit to possess firearms. (British subjects still needed a permit to carry pistols or handguns).

Specific requirements were added for issuing handgun permits. Before this, applicants only had to be of 'discretion and good character.' They now also had to give reasons for wanting a handgun. Permits could only be issued to protect life or property, or for using a firearm at an approved shooting club. The minimum age for possessing firearms was lowered from 16 to 12 years. Other changes included the creation of the first mandatory minimum consecutive sentence - 2 years for the possession of a handgun or concealable firearm while committing an offence. The punishment for carrying a handgun outside the home or place of business was increased from 3 months to a maximum of 5 years.

The first real registration requirement for handguns was created. Before then, when a permit holder bought a handgun, the person who issued the permit was notified. The new provisions required records identifying the owner, the owner's address and the firearm. These records were not centralized. Registration certificates were issued and records were kept by the Commissioner of the RCMP or by police departments that provincial Attorneys General had designated as firearms registries.

Handguns had to be re-registered every five years, starting in 1939. (Initially, certificates had been valid indefinitely). While guns did not require serial numbers, it became an offence to alter or deface numbers (S.C.1938, c.44). The mandatory 2-year minimum sentence provision was extended to include the possession of any type of firearm, not just handguns and concealable firearms, while committing an offence. The minimum age was raised from 12 to 14 years. The first 'minor's permit' was created to allow persons under 14 to have access to firearms.

Re-registration was postponed because of World War II. During the war years, rifles and shotguns had to be registered. This was discontinued after the war ended.

The Criminal Code was amended so that firearm owners no longer had to renew registration certificates. Certificates became valid indefinitely.

The registry system for handguns was centralized under the Commissioner of the RCMP for the first time. Automatic firearms were added to the category of firearms that had to be registered. These firearms now had to have serial numbers. The 2-year mandatory minimum sentence created in 1932-33 was repealed after a 1949 Supreme Court decision ( R. v. Quon) found that it did not apply to common crimes such as armed robbery.

The categories of 'firearm,' 'restricted weapon' and 'prohibited weapon' were created for the first time. This ended confusion over specific types of weapons and allowed the creation of specific legislative controls for each of the new categories. The new definitions included powers to designate weapons to be prohibited or restricted by Order- in-Council. The minimum age to get a minor's permit to possess firearms was increased to 16. For the first time, police had preventive powers to search for firearms and seize them if they had a warrant from a judge, and if they had reasonable grounds to believe that possession endangered the safety of the owner or any other person, even though no offence had been committed. The current registration system, requiring a separate registration certificate for each restricted weapon, took effect in 1969.

Bill C-51 passed in the House of Commons. It then received Senate approval and Royal Assent on August 5. The two biggest changes included requirements for Firearms Acquisition Certificates (FACs) and requirements for Firearms and Ammunition Business Permits. And, for the first time, Chief Firearms Officer positions were introduced in the provinces.  Fully automatic weapons became classified as prohibited firearms unless they had been registered as restricted weapons before January 1, 1978. Individuals could no longer carry a restricted weapon to protect property. Mandatory minimum sentences were re-introduced. This time, they were in the form of a 1-14 year consecutive sentence for the actual use (not mere possession) of a firearm to commit an indictable offence.



After the 1993 federal election, the new Government indicated its intention to proceed with further controls, including some form of licensing and registration system that would apply to all firearms and their owners. Provincial and Federal officials met several times between January and July to define issues relating to universal licensing and registration proposals.

Between August 1994 and February 1995, policy options were defined for a new firearms control scheme, and new legislation was drafted.

Bill C-68 was introduced on February 14. Senate approval and Royal Assent were granted on December 5, 1995. Major changes included:

the creation of the Firearms Act, to take the administrative and regulatory aspects of the licensing and registration system out of the Criminal Code;

a new licensing system to replace the FAC system; licences required to possess and acquire firearms, and to buy ammunition;

registration of all firearms, including shotguns and rifles.

The Chief Firearms Officer was tasked with issuing firearm licences, and the Firearms Registrar, registration certificates. The Registrar is responsible, among other things, for registering firearms owned by individuals and businesses.

Provision was also made in the Firearms Act for the appointment of ten Chief Firearms Officers, that is, one for each province, with some provinces also including a territory. Chief Firearms Officers can be appointed by the provincial or the federal government. Be they appointed federally or provincially, Chief Firearms Officers are responsible for such things as issuing, renewing, and revoking Possession and Acquisition Licences.


The Minister of Justice tabled proposed regulations on November 27. These dealt with such matters as:

all fees payable under the Firearms Act;

licensing requirements for firearms owners;

safe storage, display and transportation requirements for individuals and businesses;

authorizations to transport restricted or prohibited firearms;

authorizations to carry restricted firearms and prohibited handguns for limited purposes;

authorizations for businesses to import or export firearms;

conditions for transferring firearms from one owner to another;

record-keeping requirements for businesses;

adaptations for Aboriginal people.

In October, the Minister of Justice tabled some amendments to the 1996 regulations. She also tabled additional regulations at that time, dealing with:

firearms registration certificates;

exportation and importation of firearms;

the operation of shooting clubs and shooting ranges;

gun shows;

special authority to possess; and

public agents.

The Canadian Firearms Registry was transferred from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the Department of Justice.

As of January 1, 2001, Canadians needed a licence to possess and acquire firearms.

As of January 1, 2003, individuals needed a valid licence and registration certificate for all firearms in their possession, including non-restricted rifles and shotguns. Firearms businesses also required a valid business licence and registration certificate for all firearms in their inventory.

The Canada Firearms Centre was transferred from the Department of Justice on April 14, 2003, and became an independent agency within the Solicitor General Portfolio.

On May 13, 2003, Bill C-10A, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Firearms) and the Firearms Act received Royal Assent. Statutory authority of all operations was consolidated under the Canadian Firearms Commissioner, who reported directly to the Solicitor General, now known as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

A Commissioner of Firearms, who has overall responsibility for the administration of the program, was appointed.

Some Bill C-10A regulations — those which improve service delivery, streamline processes and improve transparency and accountability — came into effect.

Responsibility for the administration of the Firearms Act and the operation of the Canada Firearms Centre was transferred to the RCMP in May 2006. The Commissioner of the RCMP assumed the role of the Commissioner of Firearms.

On October 25, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness introduced Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (Ending the Long-gun Registry Act).

On April 5, Bill C-19, the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act, came into force. The bill amended the Criminal Codeand the Firearms Act to remove the requirement to register non-restricted firearms, ordered the destruction of existing registration records and allowed the transferor of a non-restricted firearm to obtain confirmation of the validity of a transferee's firearms acquisition licence prior to the transfer being finalized.

Shortly after, the Government of Quebec filed a court challenge to Bill C-19. Due to a series of court orders and undertakings in these proceedings, non-restricted firearms registration records for the province of Quebec were retained, and Quebec residents continued to register non-restricted firearms.

In October, all non-restricted firearms registration records, except for Quebec, were destroyed.

On March 27, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Quebec's appeal challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of the Ending the Long Gun Registry Act requiring destruction of the non-restricted registration records, and refused to order the transfer of these records to the Province of Quebec. As a result, the Canadian Firearms Program stopped accepting and processing registration/transfer applications for non-restricted firearms from within the province of Quebec, and all electronic records identified as being related to the non-restricted firearms registration records in Quebec were deleted.  It was later discovered that two copies were actually kept.

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