How to Get a Gun, Licensing, Registration

Getting Licensed
Getting licensed in Canada is straightforward, as long as you can meet the following conditions (source):

  • Be a resident or Canadian Citizen
  • Passed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (find an instructor)
  • Passed the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course, if wishing to buy restricted firearms such as handguns
  • Have a clean background and provide personal references
    • Those who lived in Canada less than five years must also provide a police reference from their country of origin

That’s about it. With a tiny bit of patience and effort, and a clean past, you will have Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) for non-restricted firearms, or a Restricted PAL (RPAL) for both non-restricted and restricted firearms.

Licenses must be renewed every five years. All (R)PAL holders are automatically police-checked every night for Continuous Eligibility Screening.

Non-Restricted, Restricted, and Prohibited Firearms
Firearms are classified in the Criminal Code (source). They are divided into three classes:
Any long gun that isn’t specifically restricted or prohibited. Most long guns in Canada are non-restricted.

  • Can be used for hunting and target shooting
  • Must be unloaded otherwise
  • Single-locked for safe storage
  • No registration
  • Cannot be sold to a person without a PAL

Most handguns, and “short” long guns are restricted. The AR-15 is restricted regardless of length.

  • Can be used for target shooting, but not hunting
  • Must be unloaded otherwise
  • Must be transported directly to/from home and an approved location, such as a shooting range
  • Double-locked for safe storage and transport
  • Mandatory registration
  • Cannot be sold to a person without an RPAL
  • Sales and transfers are monitored and approved by the Chief Firearms Office

Short-barrel handguns and .25 and .32 caliber handguns are prohibited. Full-automatic guns, guns that were converted from full-automatic, and guns declared to be such, regardless of function, are also prohibited.

  • Only prohibited handguns can currently be transported for target shooting
  • Restricted storage, and registration rules apply
  • Possession and transfers allowed only among those who held a particular class before being prohibited (grandfathering)
  • None can legally be imported into Canada, unless for government use (police, army etc)

Guns that have been “sawn-off” by the owner are outright illegal.

Regardless of classification, most semi-automatic long guns have a five-round magazine limit, and most semi-automatic handguns have a ten-round magazine limit.

Naturally, the complete laws and regulations are a bit more complex and involve special cases, but the above rules cover most situations.