American gun control’s roots are in racism. Specifically, a post-Civil War push to deny freed slaves their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. It spread, virus-like, to northern cities with “urban issues” (i.e. large African-American populations). It went federal because it could. In contrast, Canada’s gun control legislation started on the federal level . . .

The federal Parliament instituted a system of gun control in the North-West Territories in 1885 to hinder the Red River Rebellion for Metis rights. Permission in writing from the territorial government was needed to possess any firearm (other than a smooth-bore shotgun), and also ammunition. Possession of a firearm or ammunition without the necessary permit was an offence, and could lead to the forfeiture of the firearm and ammunition. These gun control provisions applied to all of what is now Alberta, Saskatchewan, parts of Manitoba, the current Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut . . .

Legislation in 1934 required the registration of handguns with records identifying the owner, the owner’s address and the firearm. Registration certificates were issued and records kept by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or by other police forces designated by provincial attorneys general.

Wikipedia’s summary of gun politics in Canada doesn’t tell the whole story. Suffice it to say, as always, gun control is about control more than it’s about guns. The video above outlines the legacy of Canada’s shameful history of civilian disarmament. There but for the grace of God and the determination of gun rights-protecting Americans goes the US. Shudder. [h/t SS]

75 Responses to What Does It Take to Get a Gun In Canada?

  1. It’s amazing that with such a strong outdoorsman history such as Canada is so anti gun, but then again they do have greater European roots than us.

      • Your knowledge is about 60 years out of date. Canadian citizens are indeed citizens, not subjects (and same goes for UK, and all other countries under the same crown).

        • I take it you didn’t watch the video. No government that subjects it’s citizens to that kind of bureaucratic entrapment can fairly call their subjects citizens. Same goes for America to a slightly lesser extent.

        • The Queen cannot supersede the Canadian government. She can try in theory, but in practice everyone knows that would just make Canada a republic overnight.

    • Gun ownership and use for outdoorsy stuff is heavily regulated (compared to most US States) but still quite possible.

      Armed self-defense, on the other hand, is non-existent, legally speaking.

      • Yup. This is what kept one of the more than 90,000 guns in the Moncton area (Regional population of about 150,000) from being used on that scum bag the other week. (I have a FOIA released copy of the registry as of 2007 so that is where the #s come from)

        It is utterly illegal to use almost any level of force (Gun or otherwise) and particularly when it is not in the defence of YOUR life. You will be arrested and processed in Canada. It totally turns your world upside down for potentially years. So people are struck by fear from laws.

        • The law of self-defence in Canada was a total mess wen last I looked at in (around 2001) – even the judges said so, some in their holdings.

          But that aside, the storage requirements for firearams, especially of the Restricted variety, are such that any DGU is ipso facto a violation of those storage laws.

        • Well, it is pretty close to illegal.

          We can store ammo pretty near anywhere we want that is “safe” so for a house with no small children, it would not be illegal to have a loaded magazine for your glock in your night stand and your safe is but feet from that and your trigger lock is set to the unlock combo and the safe uses a finger print. Technically, it would be all within the law but VERY easy for you to react, all things considered up here in Canada.

          keep in mind that in reality, Bill C-68 was never meant for real safety. There are all manner of loopholes in it along with all the insanity like not technically being able to get gas on the way to the range or back to your house.

    • The Queen, or her representatives in Canada (Governor General & Lieutenant Governors General–EQUAL, under the Canadian constitution) have minimal and rarely-used reserve powers. The former GG harboured the delusion that she, not Elizabeth II, was the Head of State–she got sorted out, and we have a new GG. Much unlike your Presidential system, where the Prez can basically override the Constitution and legislature in certain circumstances. I think it’s silly to have the Head of State live overseas, but the basic system is sound. And, yes, we are ‘citizens.’ not ‘subjects.’ I really don’t think it’s worth arguing semantics. because socialist countries referred to people as ‘citizens.’

      Before 1977, Canada’s Federal gun laws were actually more lax than LBJ’s Gun Control Act: no background checks, and machine guns legal for sale to civilians. Today, the laws are very similar to New York State, or Illinois. Compared to the U.S., one oddity is that guns are commonly sold via mail order. Provinces like Alberta (the Canadian equivalent of a Red State) basically refuse to enforce the Firearms Act, and there is nothing the Federal Government can do about it. Despite the Federal nature of firearms and other criminal laws, Canadian Provinces have far greater powers than U.S. or especially Australian States, and have told the Feds to FOAD on various issues. And, as for armed self-defense, the Canadian courts have recognized the constitutional right to even shoot COPS in self-defense (that being, a no-knock raid):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_Parasiris

    • The monarch of Canada is the Queen of Canada. The fact that she also happens to be a Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand etc is inconsequential. All those crowns are technically separate, with their own titles, coats of arms, royal prerogatives etc.

    • How much does the USA spend on BS pomp and circumstance to fluff up Obama’s ego? Billions when you include the USSS and all the planes and choppers? Canada gets the taxpayers of a WHOLE DIFFERENT COUNTRY to fund its head of state. How is that not brilliant?

      I’ll take QE II any day over that – she’s even a real sportswoman and a hunter. Canada’s gun laws are rotten because liberals, and liberals disguised as Torys had a hammerlock on government for 40 years post-WW II, and even with the rise of some better Torys, the population has been brainwashed by academia and the media to a degree rarely seen outside the confines of Manhattan and the Bay Area.

  2. I love my Canadian brothers and sisters but DAMN I’m glad I’m an American. That’s just ridiculous.

    • It is way scary up here. Technically, it is illegal to stop at the gas station if you have guns in your vehicle. Or a better rundown, if you go to the range (Or go hunting), you cannot ever stop for an errand as you are now no longer taking the most expedient and direct route to and from the place of use of your firearms.

      An utterly unenforceable law but the law none the less.

      • Not true. Any non-restricted firearm has no such issue. Only restricted firearms (AR-15 style & all handguns, plus various others determined by “scariness”) have rules stating you must go straight to and from your registered range or a range you have been invited to as guest. Even then stopping for gas would not be forbidden. Stopping at your buddies place for a drink or visit would be illegal but not getting gas!!

        • Well, the smart thing is to err on the side of caution with the police.

          There was an RCMP officer caught on video making it up as he went along a number of months back. He was adamant that the LAR-15 mag made the rifle prohibited and he seized a bunch guys rifles. This happened out in the woods in BC. It is up on YouTube and Rod Giltaca has a link to it in his collection of videos. Really frustrating.

          But ya, you are right on the Res. vs. non. I forgot about that one detail… SEE!!! It is nuts man!!! 🙁 Too much to remember and WE are not the criminals…

  3. What Does It Take to Get a Gun In Canada?

    Half a bottle of Canadian Club and a pair of nylons.

    Say the secret word and the duck will give you one hundred dollars.

  4. [Gun control] spread, virus-like, to northern cities with “urban issues” (i.e. large African-American populations).

    New York’s Sullivan Law, the granddaddy of all citizen disarmament, was enacted because of the fear of White people, i.e. the newly arrived Italian immigrants, who threatened the power of Irish-American gangsters and ward-heelers.

    O’Malley, Malloy, McCarthy et al are carrying on a long tradition, and for the same reason.

    • Don’t forget the laws passed against open-carry of long-guns in California to specifically target the Black Panther Party (not to be confused with the modern neo-liberal NBPP).

      • California’s gun laws long preceded the loaded carry ban of 1968, dating back to the turn of the century, where the intent was to disarm the Mexicans and the Chinese.

  5. I find the parallels between the two countries interesting.

    1) Bad guy shoots somebody, knee jerk reaction and calls for more gun control by people who nothing about existing laws
    2) The police get an extra special carve out although as the speaker says, have been involved in crimes themselves, the bad guys break laws regardless of the laws
    3) Just as many register guns as those registered. Same goes for Belgium and I bet other countries too. When any tax is too high, people find a way around the tax either via underground economies or black markets. The government should lower the tax to get more to comply but they are too stupid to understand.

    Finally I am going to borrow his example about how they do not paint all police departments as bad because of some bad apples, and gun owners should be treated the same.

    Also, have visited Canada many times, love the sites, love food, love the beer, I have a good time with my Canadian friends, but still feel better once I am back home.

    • love food, love the beer

      Canadian people are really nice, but aside from Quebec province, Canadian food is insipid and their beer can best be described as swill.

        • My “home state” is NYC, where I was born and raised and which has the best food in the known universe.

          I don’t live there now for a lot of reasons, but I know a few things about food, which is more than I can say about most of Canada.

          Really, how can you eat that sh1t?

        • NYC=good food?

          Maybe the restaurants or old school pizza shops, but all the new fast food crap isn’t good.

          I personally don’t care that much, I like pretty much everything (except tripe). My favorite is cevapi and burek though.

        • I’ve had very good beer in the US (good food too), but it really pays to have local friends or a helpful bartender point you in the right direction.

          Lots of excellent small-scale stuff that doesn’t travel far because the locals sensibly drink it all – which means, sadly, some excellent brews I’ve discovered over there aren’t available in the next county let alone another country.

      • If you want beer that doesn’t taste like swill learn to make your own. Not only will it be the best beer you’ve ever tasted but it will also be dirt cheap (if you don’t count your labor).

      • What “sh1t” are you talking about? There are only about six “Canadian” foods that actually originate from here.

      • Hop City Barking Squirrel is very good and is brewed in my home province of Ontario. The same for Waterloo Dark. Moosehead is nice. Molson Canadian is pretty bad though.

        There is no distinct character in our food and that is all I can say.

      • the food in canadia. poutine is good. how bad could fries, gravy and cheese curds be? other than that wouldn’t there be just about every tasty game animal? there for sure is more walleye and lake perch than anywhere else. you simply cannot beat that. lake trout? northern pike? yum. better than ‘hudson river trout’.
        beer in canadia? we always grab whatever triple- x is duty free when we cross in. they have more than thirty breweries. nothing wrong with the stuff cooked up at unibroue. unless of course you find a dead mouse in your elsinore bottle.
        my dad went fishin’ up there once and never came back. they say he saw a sign as he was crossing into windsor that read ‘drink canada dry’. i’m sure he gave it a valiant effort.
        c, eh? d, eh? n, eh? f’n eh!

  6. Yeah some things are better here than in certain US states. Generally it’s not that bad at least not compared to Europe/Australia.

    Can get short barreled shotguns and rifles easily compared to you guys. Plus we can get Chinese guns like norincos. Other that that I can’t think of anything we have better.

  7. I’m not saying it’s great up here, but it has gone from bad to slightly better. In an odd sort of way, we ended up being better than several of the most restrictive US states (no 50 cal ban, for example)- but that’s mainly because all our bad laws were made in the 90s, and then didn’t get updated. I suppose laziness is a virtue sometimes.

    (Also, it’s important to remember that there are two tiers in the Commonwealth. You have really restrictive nations like the UK and Australia, and then you have comparatively more relaxed ones like Canada and New Zealand).

    The latest wave of shootings in Canada hasn’t produced the drive towards increased gun control that was feared, and the government is drafting legislation to prevent further idiotic prohib designations. I don’t think we’ll ever be quite as good as, say, Arizona, but at least we’re not as bad as, say, the UK or Australia. If things go well, we may end up back to the pre-90s situation, or something like it.

  8. Of course, we do get surplus Chinese ammunition and firearms (SKS for $179!) so there is one small advantage. The rest of it….not so much.

    I’ll also add that there are some states down there even worse than we are. Nobody in Canada considers a bolt action .22 with 10+ rounds to be an “assault rifle”.

    • I envy you for the norinco imports and sks’s, just paid 480 for my Russian SKS. Plus you guys have some beautiful land.

    • In Canada the Tavor isn’t even on the “Restricted” list, meaning it can be shipped to your door by Canada Post. : ))
      And then you can load it with a 5 round mag :((

      In CT, you can’t buy one at all.

      • L.A.R. 15 pistol magazines work in the Tavor, which legally allows ten rounds. Under Canadian law, the limit depends on what it was designed for, not what it is used in. A pistol magazine in a rifle is fine.

        • You can also use magazines designed for the .50 Beowulf to get a capacity of 15-17rds of .223, since the restriction applies to the calibre the magazine is designed for.

  9. Once again I’m glad to be an American. Not so happy about living in Illinois. Happy Fathers Day guys.

  10. It’s a good thing Canada has such stringent laws, otherwise some nutjob with a rifle could just roam around a sleepy little hamlet like Moncton, shooting police at will.

    Too soon?

    • I am sorry for those RCMP officers, those killed in Mayerthorpe, and other police who died in the line of duty. These were good people, and died trying to protect others. But there is definitely a double standard, when it comes to CIVILIANS murdered by police. Google Robert Dziekanski, Greg Matters, or other cases, and shake your head at how Crown Prosecutors, coroners, and judges throw cases of police-caused homicides. And be amazed at the kid glove treatment given to Matt de Grood, a police officer’s son, whose father knew he was going off the rails but did nothing to stop him from slaying five people with a kitchen knife.

      • It is for sure a double standard here in Canada 🙁

        I wish that it was legal to defend life with whatever force you happen to expend in the heat of the moment but it is not. THAT is the greatest travesty in this nation. Only the police are allowed to make such decisions with little to no ramifications.

  11. That guy’s shirt is the ULTIMATE in urban camo – so ugly you absolutely have to look away. Must work like a charm.

  12. In Canada, it’s illegal to pack a modern handgun to protect yourself from a grizzly attack when fishing. So, you occasionally hear about a fisherman being used as a food source for a grizzly. Lovely. (Explains the bear scat smelling like bear spray and filled with tiny bells)

    So, some Canadians have started carrying obsolete caliber large-bore antique handguns (which aren’t restricted) as a bear gun.

    • Not true. Above a certain point going north you are allowed to pack and carry handguns for defensive purposes. Below that line you can carry any non restricted firearm for defense when hunting or fishing. I can even have a KelTec KSG fully loaded with 14 rounds in my car all day long everyday. All it needs is a trigger lock and I am good to go. (Any other non restricted firearm is the same) I would not do so and don’t see a point to doing it but I could without repercussion. We are not a disarmed population but firearm owners are a small voting block in this country. Some of the past knee jerk reactions have been recently corrected by our current federal government. We will never be the USA when it comes to firearm freedoms but we will always have more freedoms than many US states and we will never be California, NJ or NY!!!

      • Hi Chris,

        Travel in a vehicle with a loaded firearm (non-restricted OR restricted) is illegal.

        Magazines / Mag tubes in a shot gun are now considered a loaded firearm, even if a round is not in the chamber.

        This counts for off road vehicles as well while out in the back country.

        Just an FYI – I’ve discussed this with many fish & wildlife officers (as it relates to bear defence let’s say) – walking with a loaded gun in the bush, no problems…in a vehicle – well, you could end up in some VERY hot water doing so.

  13. In Britain, during Middle Ages, if, in a subject house (yes, being a monarchy, they are called “subjects”), was found a bow with/without arrows, the subject faced prosecution either for illegal hunting (all hunting was illegal, since all land belong to the King), either for being a “terrorist”. Penalty was death.

    Great Britain, Australia, Canada…Is anyone seeing any pattern there?

    • DGC,

      I think you’re more than a little confused – you’d be liable for prosecution and a fine in the Middle Ages if you *didn’t* have a bow, arrows, and practice regularly. One King even tried banning the new-fangled sports of cricket and football because they were felt to be distracting people from archery practice.

      It wasn’t until 1863 that we got around to repealing the law that nominally required every Briton between 14 and 60 to practice with the bow for not less than two hours every week, which had been in force since the 1300s. (Supervision to be done by the clergy, which is why archery practice often coincided with church).

      The 1515 statute reads:-

      “Whether the Kinges subjectes, not lame nor having no lawfull impediment, and beinge within the age of XI yeares, excepte Spiritual men, Justices etc. and Barons of the Exchequer, use shoting on longe bowes, and have bowe continually in his house, to use himself and that fathers and governours of chyldren teache them to shote, and that bowes and arrowes be bought for chyldren under XVII and above VII yere, by him that has such a chylde in his house, and the Maister maye stoppe it againe of his wages, and after that age he to provide them himselfe: and who that is founde in defaute, in not having bowes and arrowes by the space of a moneth, to forfayte xiid.

      And that buttes be made, in everie citie, towne and place accordinge to the law of auncient time used, and the inhabitantes and dwellers in everye of them to exercise themselfe with longe bowes in shotinge at the same, and elles wher on holy daies and other times conveniente.”

  14. I agree some things seem unreasonable when it comes to firearms here in Canada. Worse part is criminals don’t care what the law says and crazy people are never thinking about consequences. The mandatory sentencing the video mentions is so the judges cannot “go soft” on their sentencing as they were doing for ages. It was a revolving door system until the laws were changed to take judicial discretion away. As a firearms owner I can say I have no issue with the steps needed to get a firearm license in Canada. We have a very robust market for firearms here and a lot of options. Also want ammo? We have more then we need and have no issue going down and buying a 5k box of .22lr for about 6 cents a round. Sure we cant open or conceal carry but I have never felt the need to and I have lived in some pretty dangerous areas. We definitely have way more options and freedoms than many states. The video makes it sounds like you could get denied buying a restricted firearm but that is not true. If it is for sale you can buy it. If it is restricted then you just need to ask for the paperwork not permission. If it is not restricted (way more options than people think) then there is zero tracking and no registration at all.

  15. We need to clarify a few points about firearm legislation here in Canada, a country I was born in, live in, and love being a part of.

    First off – the video is an excellent portrayal of what it takes to acquire a firearm in Canada. All & all, our system is not THAT bad – but many of the nearly 2 million gun owners feel it goes TOO FAR – which it does on some points.

    As it relates to personal Self Defense; a topic which seems to be taboo amongst most Canadians (most who don’t know the laws on self defence & citizen arrest have been bred to believe that we are helpless victims in waiting which is simply put, not true).

    Recently, within the last couple years a legal case set a new precedent for self defence. Although we don’t have CCW law – or Doctrine law – if we find ourselves in a scenario against an armed intruder let’s say; it is legal for us Citizens to use lethal force to defend ourselves and our families.

    Although, the main wording is a little unclear & subject to interpretation, let’s summarize by saying this; as long as you use lethal force as a last resort – you are ok if you protect yourself in your home by whatever means are required.

    You don’t fumble through the dark & blast off at the first shadow of course (but that’s just plain dumb from a firearm safety perspective) – but if someone breaks in with a gun, and they don’t flee when they find out YOU have a bigger gun – and they get shot – this would be justifiable self defence.

    Granted, it would also require a lengthy court battle because most of the crown prosecutors (our version of the DA’s office) would want to lay charges; but there is a precedent for use of a firearm to protect your home & your family – IF the situation warrants; contrary to what many ‘think’ – we are not as bad off as many would say. Google Ian Thompson for the case I am referring to if you’re interested.

    I’m not a lawyer – but I do know the laws as written on this subject because the first step to protect your family is knowledge.

    Even though our laws are TOO strict – I have to admit that it offers some peace of mind knowing that the shooter next to me on the line at the range has had the same background checks I have had, and (generally speaking) probably isn’t a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

  16. Chris I don’t think you are correct about carrying a handgun above a certain point in the north. You can maybe get an ATC but without ait I’ve never heard of any other way than using antique guns which are not considered firearms.

    What law or regulation allows for carry beyond s certain point?

    • I believe you are correct. An ATC is “easy” to get for those that work in the wilds but even then not THAT easy from what I have read.

      Otherwise, if you are not a DNR or police officer and you are out in the woods in Canada with a restricted firearm (hand gun or not) and it is not at a designated range, you are in a WORLD of legal trouble.

      • And there we have the main issue with Canadian gun laws!! Bad or incorrect information. Our firearm instructor told us above a certain point going north one could have a handgun for protection from wildlife!! Only people who are licensed trappers or people who work in remote locations as part of their employment can get that permission. Otherwise it is only non restricted firearms. I only shoot at a range and don’t hunt so i should have kept my two cents to myself!!
        http://www.rcmp.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/fs-fd/PDF/wilderness-protection-animaux-sauvages-eng.pdf

        • Yes sir. It is a giant mess isn’t it. I have my PAL and was thinking of getting an RPAL but the PITA factor is not worth it right now.

          And did you see that video of those guys in BC that were snookered by that RCMP that made it up as he was going along? Seized their guns due to not understanding that the LAR-15 mags were totally legal.

  17. To go way back to the first sentence of the article: It seems to me that if gun control in Canada was a response to the Red River Rebellion, then you could just as easily say it has its roots in racism too. Metis and all, you know.

  18. The huge majority of gun crimes in Canada are committed by Biker and ethnic gangs fighting over drug turf. Take away that faction and gun violence is minimal. More people drown in canoe accidents than die by gunfire. I do feel safer in the bush packing one of my .455 Webleys or .44 Russian S&W topbreaks but antique prices are outrageous now.

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