Firearms Ban RIAS, RCMP Release on FRT

Date:   June 25, 2020
Classification: Unclassified
Branch / Agency: CCSB/ Public Safety

Proposed Response:





On May 1, 2020, the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted were amended to prescribe as prohibited approximately 1,500 models of firearms and their variants, along with upper receivers for some newly-prohibited firearms. Of those, nine principal models of assault-style firearms are prohibited as they have semi-automatic action with sustained rapid-fire capability (tactical military design with large magazine capacity); are of modern design; and are present in large volumes in the Canadian market.  Also included are two categories of firearm that exceed safe civilian use: firearms with 20 mm bore or greater or with a muzzle energy of greater than 10,000 Joules.

Firearms Reference Table

In 2020, the Firearms Reference Table (FRT) was made available to the general public in order to increase transparency of information on firearms.

The public-facing version of the FRT is updated periodically and is dated.  Following the May 1, 2020 prohibition announcement firearms businesses and other stakeholders have noted that ongoing changes to the Firearms Reference Table has created confusion and uncertainty on what firearms may be captured under the prohibition.

Should any additional variants be identified, these will be updated in the FRT and posted on the CFP website. A link has been added to the public version of the FRT that provides a list of the newly prohibited firearms.

Use of Orders in Council to Re-Classify Firearms

Bill C-150 received Royal Assent in June 1969 and created the categories of “restricted weapon” (included handguns and fully automatic firearms, which had to be registered and required a permit to transport) and “prohibited weapon” (weapons such as brass knuckles or silencers). The definitions of both of these categories also included an authority for the Governor in Council (GIC) to prescribe by Order in Council firearms as “restricted weapons” or “prohibited weapons.” A firearm could not be prescribed as either a restricted weapon or a prohibited weapon if it “was commonly used for hunting or sporting purposes.”

The authority was used sparingly and prescribed according to the name of the firearm, which resulted in manufacturers simply changing minor aspects of the firearms to avoid being captured in the prohibited weapon category.

Bill C-17 received Senate approval and Royal Assent on December 5, 1991, and then came into force between 1992 and 1994. Bill C-17 created the authority for the GIC to prescribe specific makes and models and variants of military or paramilitary firearms, not commonly used in Canada for a hunting or sporting purpose, as prohibited or restricted. This was a broader scope (listing by makes and models and including variants) than the power to prescribe by name only. The Bill also:

Three Orders in Council effective as of October 1, 1992, dealt with three classes of weapons (except as otherwise noted):

In 1995, the Firearms Act (Bill C-68) was passed and created three new categories of firearms (no longer referring to them as ‘weapons’): non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. With regard to the classification of restricted and prohibited firearms, the Act added the power of the Government to prescribe firearms as prohibited or restricted firearms via regulation, as long as they are “not reasonable for use in Canada” for hunting or sporting purposes.  This amendment gave the GIC a broader discretion than the previous language in Bill C-150 of “commonly used in hunting or sport shooting”).

In 1998, the Governor in Council used the power (in current section 117.15 of the Criminal Code) to make the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted, which incorporated the 1992 Orders in Council and prohibited additional semi-automatic military weapons (examples: AK-47 variants, Commando Arms Carbine, FN variants, Heckler & Koch HK-91).

Bill C-42 came into force in 2015 and created a “deeming provision,” which gave the GIC the authority to prescribe a firearm to be non-restricted, even if it met the Criminal Code definition of a restricted firearm or a prohibited firearm. This authority was used in 2015 to prescribe the Swiss Arms family and CZ 858 rifles to be non-restricted. This authority was repealed by Bill C-71 in 2018; however, those provisions of the former Bill have not been brought into force. The non-restricted Swiss Arms and CZ 858 firearms were prescribed to be prohibited in the Regulations announced on May 1, 2020.

Bill C-71, An Act to amend Certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

Several provisions, including those clarifying that firearms seized by police are considered forfeited to the Crown, and those allowing remaining long-gun registration records specific to Quebec  to be transferred to that province,  came into force upon Royal Assent.

Provisions in the Act that will come into force at a later date, by Order-in-Council and once administrative changes have been made, will:

Current Status of C-71

Bringing C-71 regulations into force will require a series of both parallel and sequential initiatives. First, a funding decision will be required to facilitate the administrative and technical changes needed to support the regulatory changes. The draft regulations will need to be finalized, which will involve consultations with implicated parties. The regulations would then need to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament for at least 30 sitting days, before being brought into force through Orders-in-Council.

In parallel, the RCMP would require up to 24 months to implement the new provisions, with “deeming” and ATT provisions to be completed within the first 12 months and the remaining provisions thereafter (licence verification, licence eligibility, and vendor record-keeping). Work is underway to develop a funding proposal to support the new provisions.

Border Issue

The cross-border smuggling of firearms poses a threat to the safety and security of Canada. Given the availability of firearms in the United States, including firearms that are strictly controlled or prohibited in Canada, most seizures happen at the Canada-US land border. The CBSA seizes large quantities of firearms every year from U.S. citizens, mostly from non-compliant travellers attempting to retain their personal firearms while travelling. There is no doubt, however, that there are firearms entering the country undetected, as evidenced through gun crimes in Canada that involve illicit firearms.

The CBSA is leveraging investments made through the Initiative to Take Action against Gun and Gang Violence to enhance its capacity to stem the flow of inadmissible travellers and illegal firearms entering Canada at vulnerable points of entry and through postal facilities. It is also procuring equipment to enhance air cargo security and pallet imaging, enhancing intelligence collection and production abilities, and improving border operations through measures aimed at enhancing the CBSA’s capacity to detect and interdict illegal firearms at the border.

NB: Information in the section on the use of Orders in Council to re-classify firearms was prepared by the Department of Justice and has been provided by Justice to their Minister’s office.


Prepared by:  [Redacted], Policy Advisor, [Redacted] (cell)
[Redacted], Senior Policy Advisor, [Redacted] (cell)
Approved by: Trevor Bhupsingh, A/Assistant Deputy Minister

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