Many Canadians believe anyone can walk into their local gun store, toss a wad of cash on the counter and walk out with a gun. Worse, this lie is often promoted by reporters and elected officials alike.
It’s critical for Canadians to understand all of the legal hurdles an individual must clear before they are granted a firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence by the RCMP Canadian Firearm Centre.
It’s also the only way to understand just how seriously Canadians take the public safety issues surrounding lawful firearm ownership.
Only by knowing what Canadian law says about firearms can we hold our politicians to account when they lie to us, the media and each other in the House of Commons.
To correct the well-promoted misconception anyone can buy a gun, here are the steps required, including all the hurdles you must jump before you are granted a Canadian firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence.
Section 5 of the Firearms Act sets out the conditions for licence eligibility. The law’s default is to refuse a licence, as evidenced by the language in 5 (1).
A person is not eligible to hold a licence if it is desirable, in the interests of the safety… that the person not possess a firearm…
If the applicant passes the default refusal mechanism, their eligibility to hold a licence is determined by Section 5 (2) parts (a), (b) and (c).
In this section, it says the applicant must not have any convictions under a wide series of criminal offences, must not have a history of mental illness or “history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence on the part of the person against any person.”
If any of these are in your personal history, you do not qualify to hold a licence.
Likewise, if a person is prohibited from owning firearms by court order, they are not eligible for a licence. [Section 6 (1)] Firearm Prohibition Orders are judicial restrictions typically, but not always, ordered against on people who commit violence against another person.
Assuming the individual passes these hurdles, they must meet the safety course requirements set out in Section 7, which include both written and practical exams.
- To legally own Non-Restricted firearms (most rifles and shotguns) the individual must pass the Canadian Firearm Safety Course.
- To legally own Restricted firearms (handguns and some semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15) the individual must also pass the Canadian Restricted Firearm Safety Course.
Completing each course and taking the written and practical exams takes a couple of days, often spread over two weekends or a series of week nights. Registering for a place in an upcoming course can take a few months, and the total cost is about $300.00.
The application form must be filled out and submitted, along with the required fee for processing.
Once the application form is received by the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program and passes initial screening, background checks begin.
The RCMP and/or the applicant’s provincial police force (and possibly their local police) examines their past to ensure the individual is eligible to possess firearms. This process can take three months or more.
Individuals listed as references on the licence application may be called (they aren’t always) and asked a series of questions. These questions are designed to elicit a negative response so your licence application can be denied.
Only by passing all of these requirements and paying all the required fees for training and licencing is a person eligible to hold a licence.
The next time someone says it is easy to legally own firearms in Canada, please set them straight and direct them to this article.
NOTE: I describe the reference check process and list the questions asked in an article about police attitudes toward firearm ownership and my daughter-in-law’s firearm licence application.
What are your experiences with obtaining a firearm licence? Please let me know about your experience with wait times, background and reference checks in the comments section below.
“Many Canadians believe anyone can walk into their local gun store, toss a wad of cash on the counter and walk out with a gun.”
That IS absolutely how it should be. If your argument against that will be that it could be a violent person or a criminal that is doing the buying, ask yourself ‘why is this person freely roaming in society?’
A gun is not the only thing they could use to do harm. But apparently we are only concerned with the harm they could do with a gun, other violence is a-ok, no license or background check needed. If they are so dangerous that they could not pass a background check for a PAL, then they are too dangerous to be running around free in society.
Your next argument will be the person is a good person but does not know how to safely handle a firearm and that should prevent them from buying one. You will get a similar argument from me on this one… where is the licensing for knives, bats, gasoline, pressure cookers, etc? Yeah that’s right, it is not needed. It is called person responsibility (to educate yourself before buying a tool).
Side note: safe gun handling should be taught in high school (not by leftist anti-gun teachers!) as that would address the above and also solve 99% of the gun image problem, and Wendy and Heidi and Blair etc couldn’t make Canadians believe their lies.
“We” as PAL holders know these facts. The problem is that if it not in your back yard then who cares? That is the problem. People are bombarded with misinformation and have no choice but to believe it (human nature) as the real facts are suppressed to a very small demographer which is literally in our back yard. Once again media is a huge influence and is not producing unbiased facts. My question and the question we should all be asking is “WHY”?