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Marty from our northern suburbs writes:

Hi Fellow North American,
I wasn’t sure where to send this message, but I am a Canadian citizen living in Canada and an avid reader of I thought I’d send a brief description of what I live with here in Toronto as a firearms owner abiding with regulations of firearms as dictated by my government. You may want to post this so others across the USA see what may be in your future . . .

I won’t go into the details of Canadian Firearms classification but interested people can look here. Background: I am a 48-year-old male, born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I possessed my first long rifle in 1980 at the age of 16.

I now hold a Restricted Possession/Acquisition licence which must be renewed every five years. I’m allowed to own and shoot pistols, long rifles and shotguns of any time except full-auto and pistols with barrels shorter than 4.2″. Those are prohibited and require a special classification on your licence which isn’t given any longer. Only people grandfathered into the firearms program from previous ownership get that special classification.

I own a .45 pistol and can’t take it out of the house except to a range that allows restricted weapon use. I can head to the range any time of the day or night, but it must be a direct trip without stops along the way. The gun must be securely locked in my trunk in its own case with trigger lock and the ammo kept in a separate case. I must hold an ATT (Authorization To Transport) certificate in order to take my guns to the range and the range was required to tell the government I had a membership in order for me to get the ATT in the first place. If I cancel my range membership, I lose my ATT.

The same rules apply to shooting my semi-auto .223. It has an 8.9″ barrel so it’s also classified as restricted and may only be shot at a range. I can’t shoot it on a family member’s farm as that is illegal.

My magazines are limited to 10 rounds (pistol) and 5 rounds (!) for a Long Rifle. My 30-round magazines are pinned so they only accept 5 rounds. If the rivet (pin) gets loose or falls out, I am holding a prohibited device and will go to jail if caught. There is a legal loophole that allows one type of 10 round AR-style magazine to be used in Long Rifles since that particular magazine was designed for pistols. ???

To sell or buy a restricted firearm, I must pass a check with the government, providing my licence info and telling them the make, model, calibre, barrel length and serial number of my purchase and then wait up to a week for the sale to be authorized. I am then issued a piece of paper that I must carry to the range in my gun case stating I’m the legal holder of the gun in the event the police stop and question me. Oh, and if I’m transferring or selling a restricted gun, I’m supposed to get a temporary ATT so I may take the gun to the post office to ship it. It’s issued for one day only and it’s only good to transport the gun from my house to the post office.

I also have a non-restricted shotgun. Its a Chinese made Remington 870 clone with an 8.5″ barrel. Somehow this is classified as non-restricted and I can legally shoot it on a farm for example. Although, if I sawed off a barrel of a regular 870 to make it 8.5″, I would go to jail for having a prohibited weapon.

I need to show my Firearm licence photo ID when I buy ammo and the store keeps a paper ledger notepad with my licence number and name plus a list of what I purchased. If a criminal steals the ledger, he would have access to this data and a convenient list of gun owners to rob.

There is no CCW here in Canada for civilians.

Although we are no longer registering non-restricted firearms, there is still much to be done to reverse the unfairness to legal gun ownership in Canada. I hope you folks never get to this stage.

Your brother in arms,

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  1. Sadly it’s not too much different than what we have here in Massachusetts, more extreme but a lot of the same principles exist.

    No anti-gun person will understand the issues with the Canadian system, they’ll think it’s a great idea. People refuse to understand that places like Canada, the UK and others never had the violent crime we do. Even if they eliminated all gun control in Canada, they wouldn’t have any more gun deaths.

      • The trouble with that statistic is it leaves the door open for an anti to argue “Well, yeah, but since they don’t have guns there are fewer murders.”

        I find it’s best (with the UK, anyway) to point out that their murder rate is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago before they passed three rounds of strict gun control measures, and that our non-firearms homicide rate is higher than their overall homicide rate. In short – it ain’t the guns.

    • “others never had the violent crime we do”

      Let’s not lose sight of the fact most gun murders are among certain demographic groups, usually connected to drugs and gang activity.

    • If my memory serves me, I had to pay $75 for the license plus mandatory training cost around $230 from a designated firearm safety trainer.
      One point I wanted to make in my story was how confusing the laws are since as seen with my shotgun, it’s non restricted with its 8.5″ barrel. And if I had an AR, I could use an LAR 10 round Mag and get around the semi auto mag limit of 5rounds. Scary guns like an AK clone is prohibited but my Sig 552 civilian semi isn’t prohibited … For the time being.

      Thanks for posting my story and apologies for the poor grammar and typos.

      • No way its a 552. Probably just a shortened 540. I’m only correcting you because the RCMP will take any excuse to classify a gun prohibited. We can’t afford even the simplest mistakes.

        You know, common sense Canadian gun laws that prohibit Sig 550 variants but not the Sig 540.

        • My gun is branded a Swiss Arms CQB and is apart from being semi, identical to a SIG 552 in every way. I call it a semi auto SIG 552 for ease of understnding to those not in Canada who already familiar with the Swiss Arms brand. I don’t think any stores in Canada have sold any SIG 553’s yet with the 8.9″ bbl.

  2. my experience in canada: great people – bad gun laws. It should be a bit beter without the long gun registry.

  3. The Canuck is mistaken. Our laws will be far worse and include complete bans on ownership, not licensing restrictions.

  4. Same old story – “allowed to own” and “and require a special classification on your licence which isn’t given any longer”

    Any registry or permits we allow will without question be the road to outlaw of ownership.

  5. “A Look Into Our Future from the Great White North”

    Am I the only TTAG reader who is insulted by the presumption of this title? It is not, as the wording implies, inevitable that we go down this road. With the appropriate amount of fortitude, political organization, litigation and wide spread civil disobedience we don’t have to go this route at all.

    Unlike Canadian gun owners we are fortunate to have strong and well funded gun rights organizations and a specific constitutional right to own and use small arms for sport, self defense and militia purposes. To steal a phrase from The Dear Leader, we have every opportunity to move FORWARD! in the long run, though we may encounter a few road blocks and detours along the way. No retreat, no phony compromise and no surrender. We can win, we should win and we will win if we let our voices be heard and make it known that we will not comply with any laws that violate our fundamental rights.

    • No, you’re not the only one insulted by the presumption of inevitability.

      At the very least this article should include a foreword from the editorial staff noting that this is our future if we don’t act to preserve and restore our 2A rights.

      • For goodness sake! It’s a WARNING, not an insult!! It’s not presented as an absolute inevitability. Grow up.

  6. Hey Marty, thanks for the write up and reminding us all that we must be ever vigilant to preserve our freedoms here in the US. If you ever want to experience an AR full mag dump and you happen to be in the US, drop me a line.

  7. Thank you for sharing this, Marty. Are the laws the same throughout Canada or different from one provence to another? Do indavidual provences have the ability to set their own laws or defy them? For instance how some of our states already have very strict laws while others are telling our federal government they will not comply.

    • The laws are federal so they apply country wide except for Quebec who insisted on keeping the useless long gun registry for their province. Non restricted firearms are still registered there.

    • They’re the same throughout the country. The federal government is responsible for making the laws although the government of Quebec is fighting the feds in court to try and keep the long-gun registry data for Quebec.

      On a technicality, we do have carry permits in Canada for civilians. They’re called ATC (authorization to carry) class 3 permits but they require extensive hoops to jump through that make it all but impossible to qualify.

  8. So why don’t liberals just move to Canada? Seems like it’s close and has the kind of laws they want…they even have CanadaCare. That’s what you do when you works someplace you don’t like, you change jobs, not lobby to have things changed.

  9. Also, my recollection is that Cdn gun storage laws mean that effective self defense use in the home is near impossible.

    • Correct. They must all be stored in a safe with the ammo kept locked in the safe as well or in a case with trigger lock ammo kept separate (if using a case). I use a biometric safe with 10 rounds of +P hollow points at the ready and am legal with my storage. The castle law doesn’t exist here so if I stopped a burglar, I’d surely be charged with attempted murder and up for a long battle.

      • Hi Marty – don’t forget that storage laws only apply when you’re not using your firearms… Shooting, cleaning, admiring, etc, all count as in use. There’s nothing at all stopping anyone from carrying a firearm – restricted or not – around at home should they so wish. Once you leave the firearms unattended, then they need to be in storage.

        We also do indeed have the castle doctrine enshrined in the CC, sec 40 if my memory serves. You, or anyone assisting you, can use as much force as necessary to prevent someone entering your dwelling, or to remove them if they’re already in, and there’s no duty to retreat like with the other CC sections covering self defence.

  10. Every Canadian I’ve known has been a decent person, and my experiences give me a lot of respect for the people of that country. I wish we could copy their healthcare system, as that would give a lot of freedom to many in this country, myself included. But the sad fact appears to be that government can’t be helpful without also wanting to control.

    What’s wrong with a government that offers a hand up when someone needs it, works with the people on goals that we share, but otherwise lets citizens get on with their lives as they see fit?

    • Nothing Greg. We do need government and the services it provides. What we have to correct in this country is the idea that some pols have that the citizens are here to serve the G. We are not, they are here to serve us.

      What will it take to make that correction? I am still hopefull that it can be done peacefully.

    • You should do a due diligence about the Canadian health care system. Sounds like you’ve been listening to socialized HC proponents. The price you pay for “free” health care is availability.

    • You… want to wait five months past your life expectancy if you need a cancer scan? Ok cool, go there and get that if you want. Please don’t try to give it to those of use whose lineage is a minefield of cancer and would rather not spend the rest of our lives in lines that will never end.

      And before you jump I am partly descended from French Canadians, and two of my direct relatives have died because they were stuck in line and didn’t want to come down here to get taken care of. Stubborn and stupid on their part, I won’t deny, but still.

      • Canadian here. My dad recently had a brain tumour and went through all of the surgery and treatments related to it over a 4 month period.

        The level of service, speed and responsiveness was absolutely amazing – right down to having volunteers pick him up and drive him once a week to the treatment centre one hour away.

        This is not an unusual level of service – in fact it is available to anyone in Canada’s largest city – Toronto.

        Cost = Free. We didn’t even have to pay for the gas to get there.

        I’ve had broken noses, collarbones, cuts and several types of surgeries in my life. Never once an issue. never once cost me a thing.

        You’ll find my experience is fairly common across our country.

        And yes, our gun laws suck.

  11. To the past nasty comments regarding people in NY ” deserving” what they got. Hate to say it, but everyone…the whole country is in for the same rediculous rules and bans we just passed here. Shit slides down hill…Get ready. Its just the nasty truth and NO ONE can deny it.

  12. Hi Marty, thanks for the summary. In Canada, would a lever-action rifle with more than five rounds in the tube be considered restricted or prohibited? Would the gun’s tube need to be blocked to limit it to five rounds?

    • To my knowledge there is NO restriction on the amount of ammo a leve action long rifle can hold. And we can buy the shorty ‘Ranch Hand’ type levers that are popular. Further proof that scary black guns with scary picatinny rails are forced to be compliant….because they’re scary. Although Chuck Connors on the Rifleman was pretty damn fast at using his rifle so I hope no Canadian Gov’t idiots watch TV re-runs lol.

  13. I live in Iowa where anyone can get a CCW with a 2 hour online course and $50 for 5 years. There are no restrictions on magazine capacities, although noise suppressors are strictly verboten. The murder rate in Canada is 1.6 per 100,000. The murder rate in Iowa is 1.36 per 100,000. Guns are used in less than half of the murders. I live in a town of 60,000. The last murder here was 5 or 6 years ago. Usually about 1 per decade.

    The USA has by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world –
    Yet is right in the middle when it comes to the murder rate –

    Something tells me these restrictions do absolutely nothing to stop violent crime.

  14. What if your certificate gets destroyed in a house fire? You go to jail?

    Oh, it’s in the bank’s safe deposit box? Well, it’s Friday night, sorry, you go to jail. You see we found this gun in the wreckage of your house…

    • I’ve never been stopped on the way to the range. The cop is supposed to check on his/her computer that your licence and documents are in order. I don’t carry originals, just copies….which is legal, but I hear that a lot of city police are clueless about correct storage / transport procedures. I don’t imagine thay encounter it too often.

      If you lose a document, you simply call and they send a new one for free.

  15. Part of the motivation behind these laws is to create a chilling effect. People who have the thought of purchasing a firearm quickly extinguish that thought when they see how difficult and risky it is.

    Needed to get gas on the way home from the range? Sorry, you’re going to jail.

  16. This sounds like a horrible proposal for a dystopian alternate-reality movie.

    Let’s redouble our efforts to ensure that this never, ever happens in the US, mmmkay?

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