Canadian Judges Reclassify Air Rifles as Firearms

Yes, yes, I know . . . Lewis & Clark fed their party and amazed the locals with their lethal Girandoni air gun in the early 1800’s. But that doesn’t change the fact that an airgun is not a firearm per se. Of course, “firearm” is also a legal term. Our neighbors to the north have a thing about guns – especially unlicensed, unregistered and unrestricted guns. And so a panel of judges decided that an air rifle is a firearm – regardless of the firing system or the feet per second rate of the ejected pellet. Air rifles are now subject to the same gun control laws bedeviling firearms-owning Canadians. Or are they? Apparently, the legislature’s going to sort it all out. Of course, the Parliament and Premier won’t add any additional regulations for air guns while they’re at it, right?


  1. avatar WRH says:

    It just keeps getting better for me and my countrymen.

    1. avatar Gene says:

      Time to write a strongly worded letter and enjoy a Labatt’s

      1. avatar WRH says:

        We don’t write strongly worded letters. It’s not polite to use strong language. And for the record, if you don’t mind my saying so, I believe that Moosehead is much better.

        1. avatar Gene says:

          Moosehead is good, Molson Canadian for me, and please consider the difference between strongly vs harshly worded. Export more poutine, please.

        2. avatar fishydude says:

          With so many microbrews around, why drink mass produced crap? 🙂
          (I don’t drink at all. Missed the microbrew explosion. Liked Molson better than all the American beers at the time. But back then there were only a few choices. Now one can walk into a single store and have close to 2500 different beers to choose from)

  2. avatar Jake says:

    You ever read an article and your only reason is “WTF?”

  3. avatar Patrick says:

    Is mayonnaise a firearm?

    1. avatar JimmyDelta says:

      You f$cker! I just spewed Gatorade out of my nose onto my laptop!

    2. avatar JoshtheViking says:

      No Patrick, Mayonnaise is not a Firearm. Horseradish isn’t a firearm either.

      1. avatar Sheepdog6 says:

        Horseradish is a weapon though. Trust me. I’m a member of parliament.

        1. avatar JoshtheViking says:

          True, horseradish can be pretty painful.

        2. avatar jsallison says:

          As are Moose bytes.

        3. avatar William says:

          Mind you, moose bites can be pretty nasty.

  4. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    Firearm: In Canada, no fire required.

    1. avatar tmm says:

      Just what I was thinking.

      Up next, “we don’t want to take your guns” (note to self: redefine “guns”).

  5. avatar jwm says:

    I’ve wondered when they’ll start this nonsense here. During barry’s first ammo draught I bought a cheap break barrel .177 from wal mart to practice with. I was shocked and pleased at how powerful this thing is.

    Even here in CA, the state that never met a regulation or tax it didn’t like, these things are only regulated by age of purchaser and if you actually misuse it after you take it out of the store. You know, like real guns should be.

    1. avatar JeffR says:

      In Illinois, any pneumatic gun, spring gun, bb gun, or paint ball gun that expels a projectile exceeding .18 inches in diameter or in excess of 700 feet per second is defined as a “firearm” and is subject to our FOID requirements and firearms laws. Illinois’s ability to regulate anything and everything is truly amazing.

      1. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

        NJ classifies bb and pellet rifles the exact same way.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          Yup. Was just coming here to welcome out northern neighbors to the Jersey way of thinking.

          Just think… a kid carrying a bb pistol on a walk to go plinking is committing the same crime as a gangbanger walking down the street with a 9mm tucked in his waistband. Makes sense, don’t it?

      2. avatar John L. says:

        So my secret 1mm bore railgun “needler” project is safe. Phew!

        1. avatar jsallison says:

          I’d be interested in the .1mm variant for deep cover operating.

    2. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

      Federal law specifically exempts air rifles as not a firearm. They are not fired with an explosive powder, but rather a compression of air, or CO2. There are areas that prevent felons and people on parole from possessing them, and I happen to agree with it.

      I have two air rifles which one has the same energy of that of the weakest .22 short, or about 60 foot pounds. Both of these are .22 PCP rifles, with my other being a suppressed .22 PCP. I ended up with two because that first one, the powerful one is damn loud. Too loud to be used around my place. My new one is virtually silent.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t have any problem with people who are disabled from owning a firearm from being prohibited from owning air rifles. These things are NOT a Daisy Red Ryder. Some of these rifles are 9mm and even .50 caliber. They are quite deadly and very capable of taking big game at closer ranges.

      1. avatar RLC2 says:

        +1. Time to buy a couple before the Feds or State declare executive acfion and do same here.
        Would not be surprised to hear The Nitwits In Sacramento have it on a list of to do’s.

    3. avatar RLC2 says:

      Just be careful you don’t ake it out of the box, and wander around absent mindedly handling it while talking on your cell phone. Some Mom Demanding Swatting Action would be only to happy to dime you out. Just ask Dean.

    4. avatar FedUp says:

      In Michigan, it’s anything over .18 cal or having a rifled barrel. Therefore anything more interesting than a smoothbore BB gun is a ‘firearm’. For long guns it doesn’t mean much of anything, but in the case of hand guns, it means that you need a permit to purchase that $40 Crosman CO2 pistol and have to register it with the state police in order to legally possess it.

  6. avatar Rufus says:

    next up…..staple guns!

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      And then:

      Jerky Guns
      Caulk Guns
      Paint Guns
      Squirt Guns
      Nerf Guns
      Lego Guns (the really little, tiny ones characters hold)
      Gun Safes
      Heat Guns
      Glue Guns

      Because guns.

  7. avatar John Doe says:

    Wow. How ignorant are they? “Firearm” is something that launches a projectile through the force of burning gunpowder. A “gun” is really anything that launches a projectile, like Nerf guns or air guns. An easy way to tell the difference: FIREarm.

  8. avatar PeterC says:

    You’ll shoot your eye out!

  9. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    So, back in junior high, the boys used to take ink pens, unscrew them, and then use the barrel to project spitwads.

    It would appear that Canada would now consider an ink pen barrel as a “firearm”*.

    Oy vey.

    * Not really. Some quick googling reveals that 214 ft/s might be the magic threshold?


  10. avatar Wildman says:

    Canadian ‘authorities’ still have cross bows and sling shots to immediately consider.

    1. avatar Gene says:

      Straws and spitwads, too.

  11. avatar Gs650g says:

    5 pounds of muzzle energy. Spare the children

  12. avatar ColdNorth says:

    Quick correction – ” Parliament and Premier”- it should be Prime Minister.

    As for the airguns, the decision exempts them from all the standard nonsense around NR/R/P firearms, but they must be stored safely, along with some considerations around how they are transported. Safely is left nebulous, as with all Canadian law. If putting a trigger lock on a NR firearm is enough for it to be considered as “stored safely”, then an airgun could be similarly treated.

    If anything, there will be fewer laws around guns soon. Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Act (temporarily delayed due to the terrorist attack in October) is set to reduce the onerous restrictions on firearms owners a tiny bit. It’s not the current Prime Minster that needs to be worried about- it’s every single other potential prime minister who is a threat to Canadian’s gun rights. Some bigger than others.

  13. avatar cmeat says:

    can i still cross the border with my red rider?

    1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

      It’s Red Ryder and no you can’t. I got thrown out of Canada, at night, in the snow on Thanksgiving at the border for much less. I’ve traveled all over the world, had guards armed with automatic weapons board my tour bus and never had a problem, but I get thrown out of Canada!

  14. avatar Tommy G says:

    Great..So now the are going to put some 12 year old in cuffs for being in possession of a Daisy Red Ryder.

  15. avatar the ruester says:

    The Truth Aboot Air Rifles, eh?

  16. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    I had a Crossman single shot .22 pistol that would leave a nice dent in scrap aluminum siding and occasionally penetrate. Of course it went through pop cans easily. I was about 13- 14 when my great grandmother gave it to me. I was responsible with it and never shot at people or animals and I didn’t have supervision while using it. Sometimes my friends and I would be in the backyard after school without my parents home plinking away at cans or targets we made out of junk. Again, years of fun and nobody was injured or hurt. If the pistol was classified as a firearm, there is almost no way my friends and I could have had that much fun after school plinking away. This was only 20 sone years ago. I’m sure they will make it so teenage kids get screwed over through the legal system over air guns. Can’t have kids liking guns! They might get ideas!

    1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

      Ahhhh, you’re the little douche who shot out all the street lights!

  17. avatar Ralph says:

    Oh Canada! We stand on guard for thee — with broomsticks and flagpoles.

  18. avatar Fuque says:

    Up Next..confiscation of Hot glue guns, caulk guns, Potato guns, and the redesign and re naming of GUN-nels on Boats.

  19. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Air rifles and BB guns have always been classified as firearms in my part of the world.

  20. avatar Gene says:

    Did the Rhinocerous Party introduce this? I thought they had better sense than that.

  21. avatar SWAMP DADDY says:

    Canadian sheep get what they deserve………

  22. avatar former water walker says:

    Yep the frozen north is pathetic. As is Illinois. And I think my knife I carry is a quarter inch too long 🙂

  23. avatar Anonymous says:

    So what was the court’s reasoning here? It seems that they just created new law out of whole cloth. Are they able to do that up there?

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Yes. Because they know the following:

      A) The “progressive” Canadians outnumber the freedom-loving, rights oriented Canadians.
      B) The freedom-loving, rights oriented Canadians are too polite and non-disruptive to go against social “progress.”
      C) The RMCP (Royal Mounted Canadian Police) – keyword “royal” are ecstatically flamboyant and glowing with pride regarding:
      • Their uniform.
      • Protecting the public from “guns,” “gun people,” and “gun culturists”
      • Making the masses feel good about being in a “safe” and “peaceful” nation and assuming credit for such.
      D) Politicians (especially the french speaking kind) just whip out any opinion they like and get it passed. Who cares about reasoning. Lets enforce “opinions” with no rational debate – nationwide. Just pass the new order over to the glowing RMCP.

  24. avatar Gof says:

    I wonder if I set my arm on fire and throw a pellet if it will be considered a fire arm?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Be an interesting experiment.

      1 can of lighter fluid. 3.50

      1 bic lighter. 1.29

      1 .177 cal. pellet. .02 cents.

      Look on the cops face when they get the fire put out. Priceless.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        The look on your face when you get the bill from the burn unit at the hospital –

        Epic Priceless

  25. avatar chris g says:

    I thought the Canadian regulations were based on min. velocity ( >500fps) and a min. energy ( >4.2 flbs)

    What I wonder, is if there was a powder cartridge that didn’t meet these specs (& the gun couldn’t be quickly loaded with a more powerful round), if it would be classified as a firearm? The tenet of the regs would suggest not (remember the old cap guns that let you load some caps in the barrel and fire wooden balls?)

  26. avatar georgr from fort worth says:

    canucks are way behind….in the town where i live, any object capable of accelerating a projectile is classified as a firearm. bb guns, pellet guns, slingshots, zip guns, nerf guns, water guns, spoons used to launch peas at your tablemate, kicking a rock at a neighbor or someone you dislike can result in your foot/leg being considered a firearm. and, of course, it is a major crime to discharge a firearm in the city limits (regardless of the circumstances).

    cheers, ya’ll

  27. avatar Anonymous says:

    StartPage Rod Class DC firearm court case. He dug into laws c. 1920s-30s to see what “firearm” means.

  28. avatar ChiGurh says:

    Better than Japan, where airsoft is allowed as long as the projectile doesn’t exceed ONE joule of energy. That about an half ft-lbf. Seems like Canada might not be that far off though.

  29. avatar Paladin says:

    I should clarify some things with regards to Canadian firearms laws.

    Under Canadian law firearm “means a barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person”

    This decision is not a reclassification of airguns. Under the law they were already firearms, this case simply affirms that. Any airgun firing a .177 pellet or bb at or over 214 FPS is capable of penetrating the eyeball, which is the standard for serious bodily harm, thus any airgun producing velocities over 214 FPS is a barreled weapon capable of discharging a projectile capable of causing serious bodily harm, and therefore a firearm.

    The thing is you can still walk into any Canadian Tire and pick up an air rifle without any more hassle than it would take to get a fishing rod. Why? Because under Canadian law not all firearms are created equal. Most people who know a little about Canadian firearms law are familiar with the non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited classifications, but there are also two other possible classifications, antiques and uncontrolled firearms. While the uncontrolled firearm classification is not explicitly mentioned in law it is a consequence of the wording of other firearms laws. Specifically, the requirements for licencing, storage, registration and transportation are dependent upon a muzzle velocity and energy requirement above and beyond the serious bodily harm threshold, they only apply to firearms with a muzzle velocity greater than 500FPS, or a muzzle energy greater than 5.7 Joules. What this means is that airguns over 214FPS but under 500FPS and 5.7 Joules, while legally considered firearms are not subject to the more restrictive laws.

    1. avatar LordGopu says:

      Good to know. I haven’t been following Canadian gun politics lately so seeing this here made me think I wouldn’t be able to go to Canadian tire and get a red Ryder.

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