What is a firearm?
According to the Criminal Code, a “firearm” is defined as a barrelled weapon that discharges projectiles capable of causing bodily harm or death. In Canada, every firearm is placed into one of three categories: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. A person must have a firearm licence that corresponds to the firearm’s category in order to possess the firearm.
The firearm licence, called a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), can be obtained after taking the appropriate courses and passing the required tests. The rules surrounding owning or possessing a firearm are complicated and depend on a number of factors, including the type of PAL you have and the gun’s dimensions, firing rate, alterations, past ownership, and intended uses.
FIREARMS CAN BE MODIFIED WEAPONS AND HOMEMADE GUNS
One misconception is that a firearm is only a store-purchased gun. However, a firearm can include a hobby weapon, like an airsoft or paintball gun, if it is modified to have its projectile move at speeds above a specific threshold. A homemade barrelled weapon, like a 3D printed gun or a gun made from scrap metal, can also be considered to be a firearm. Creating your own firearm is a serious offence and should be avoided without authorization.
WHAT IS NOT A FIREARM?
For the purposes of the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code, the following devices are generally not considered firearms, unless they are used in a criminal or negligent manner:
- Antique firearms.
- Devices designed exclusively for: signalling, notifying of distress, firing blank cartridges, firing stud cartridges, explosive-driven rivets, and other industrial projectiles.
- Shooting devices designed exclusively for: slaughtering domestic animals, tranquilizing animals, and discharging projectiles with lines attached to them.
- Air guns and other barreled weapons designed to have: a muzzle velocity of 152.4 meters per second or less, or a muzzle energy of 5.7 joules or less.
CAN YOU LEND SOMEONE YOUR FIREARM?
Yes, if you are the owner of a legally obtained firearm, then you can lend that firearm to anyone with a valid PAL that authorizes them to possess that particular category of prohibited firearm. If you lend a prohibited firearm, you must lend the registration certificate as well. It is always best, however, to ensure that you contact the Chief Firearms Officer to ensure that you are following the precise rules relating to lending someone your firearm.
CAN YOU SELL OR GIFT YOUR FIREARM?
You can sell or give a prohibited firearm only to someone with a PAL valid for that category of firearm. When the prohibited firearm changes owners, it must be registered to the new owner. Again, it is always advisable to contact the Chief Firearms Officer before you endeavour to sell or gift your firearm.