Penalties for offences related to firearm possession are severe. The Criminal Code regulates firearm possession and use in Canada, while the Canadian Firearms Act is an important piece of legislation that also affects gun rights in Canada. Individuals without a legal education may therefore find it difficult to understand these regulations.
Firearms are categorized as inherently dangerous items in Canada, as guns are often used to commit crimes, and criminal organizations often participate in the purchase and sale of firearms. However, not every Canadian citizen who owns a firearm has criminal intent. Therefore, many firearms offences can be charged as summary conviction cases that do not carry mandatory minimum sentences.
Types of Firearm-Related Charges
Individuals who possess firearms in Canada must have a firearms license. Firearms charges in Canada are diverse, and many different types of firearms offences exist. For example, a person may be charged with improperly storing a gun or using a firearm while committing a criminal offence.
The following are the most common firearms-related offences in Ontario:
- Robbery with a firearm
- Aggravated assault with a firearm
- Firearms trafficking
- Possessing and carrying concealed firearms
- Possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose
- Directing a firearm at individuals in a threatening display
- Improperly storing firearms and ammunition
- Carelessly using a firearm
- Possessing a firearm with a license
Gun Control Legislation in Canada
The first restrictions on firearms ownership were made part of Canada’s Criminal Code in the year 1892. In the present day, the Firearms Act is the primary legislation related to gun control in Canada. Firearms are placed into one of the following three categories:
These categories affect licensing and ownership. Specific provisions of the Firearms Act affect altering, importing, and trafficking firearms. Individuals must be aware of the specific provisions of the Firearms Act that may apply to them. You may be a gun owner and be in violation of Canadian law because of the manner in which you store or transport your firearms. Most violations regarding firearms constitute criminal offences under Canadian law. Being convicted of an offence means you will have a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult for you to obtain housing and employment.
Authorized Possession of a Firearm
Canada’s Firearms Act imposes requirements on citizens who want to own firearms. The provisions of the Firearms Act state who can own firearms in Canada, and the firearms licensing scheme provides citizens with the right to possess a gun. Distinct categories of firearms have corresponding authorizations. These regulations also govern other activities associated with firearms, such as transportation, sales, and imports.
Individuals who want to legally possess a firearm in Canada must acquire a Possession and Acquisition License. This license enables a person to use, own, possess, and purchase firearms in Canada. The Possession and Acquisition license remains effective for five years before it must be renewed. Those who own firearms with an expired Possession and Acquisition license can be charged with unauthorized possession under Canadian law.
The following requirements must be met for an individual to qualify for a Possession and Acquisition License:
- Satisfactory scores on the Canadian Firearms Safety Course
- Mental health background check
- Zero court orders limiting communications with other people
- Zero court orders limiting travel to specific places
- No record of drug offences
- No record of violent offences
- No record of threats or assault
- The applicant must be eighteen years of age or older
Classes of firearms are more restricted in Canada. High-capacity rifles, short-barrelled guns, and pistols are more restricted than limited-capacity firearms and guns designed for hunting. Individuals must meet additional licensing requirements to own these more restricted firearms.
Military weapons are restricted under Canadian law. However, some individuals may have the right to own these firearms under grandfathering measures. These individuals still must meet additional authorizations. Some firearms require an Authorization to Transport license. It can help to speak with an experienced lawyer to learn more about the specific licenses you may need to own and transport firearms in Canada.
Those who own firearms are also tasked with securing their guns are unloaded and trigger-locked in a secure area. It is important for gun owners to understand how they must store their firearms. Being ignorant of these provisions is no excuse for violating Canadian law.
Penalties for Possession, Use, and Other Firearms Offences
Offences regarding possession of a firearm can be charged as summary conviction offences. Some possession offences may be charged either as indictable offences or as summary conviction offences. The maximum sentence for possession offences when charged as indictable offences is five to ten years imprisonment. Individuals who commit a robbery to steal firearms face a life sentence.
Firearms use offences under Canadian law include directing a gun at other people, using a real firearm or a replica of a firearm during the commission of an indictable offence, and careless use of firearms and ammunition.
Serious firearms offences also include the following:
- Providing false statements to an officer
- Altering the serial number on a firearm
- Not reporting a lost firearm to a law enforcement agency
- Not reporting a found firearm to a law enforcement agency
- Creating a homemade automatic firearm
- Importing or exporting firearms without the required license
- Firearms trafficking
Many firearms offences can be charged as either summary offences or as indictable offences. Indictable offences are more severe than summary conviction offences. Many indictable offences come with mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Call a Toronto Criminal Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
Being charged with a firearms offence is a serious matter, and being arrested for a firearms offence can affect every aspect of your life. If you need a criminal defence lawyer, contact Vilkhov Law today at (647) 977-5852 to schedule a free consultation.
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