By: John Elliott

The right of U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms is always being threatened by proposals for stricter gun control laws. In Canada, the situation is the same, and our northern neighbors have been feeling the tightening grip of gun regulation for years.

“Canada’s federal Liberals have unveiled long-awaited gun control measures,” the BBC reported in March. “…The tighter measures could cost the Liberals support in rural ridings in the coming 2019 federal election.”

Current Gun Control
Canada started requiring the registration of handguns way back in 1934. In 1951 came laws requiring semi-automatic and automatic firearms registrations. And in 1969, Canada passed a law requiring firearms to be classified as “non-restrictive,” “restricted,” or “prohibited.”

Canadian laws dictate that “prohibited” firearms include handguns with barrel lengths of less than 4.1 inches or any pistol designed to discharge .25 or .32 caliber rounds. Prohibited firearms also include any rifles or shotguns that may have been altered by sawing off or cutting the barrels to a length of less than 18 inches, or a total length of less than 26 inches, as well as any and all weapons that have fully automatic firing capabilities, or are small and designed to fit in the palm of your hand.

“Restricted” firearms include any handgun that is not prohibited – anything with a barrel length of less than 18.5 inches (for long guns); weapons capable of discharging centerfire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner; any variant of what can be known as the M-16 rifle, including anything with AR-15 designations; all .22 caliber rimfire variants; and a nearly endless list of weapons produced by certain manufactures in the United States and abroad.

“Non-restrictive” firearms are those very few not listed in the restricted and prohibited categories, and that is, obviously, not very many!

Canadians must obtain a clearance from their local police department or from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to purchase a firearm. Unless a person lives in Québec, a place some believe to be something of a “breakaway” republic from the rest of the country, all firearms except those listed as non-restricted are required to be registered with the local government. But now even Québec has changed its policies by passing Bill 64, which will give residents until January 2019 to register all their non-restricted firearms.

Gun control measures have been a constant feature of Canadian history. Certain controls on the civilian use of firearms have existed since the very early years of the country’s Confederation, when severe penalties could be imposed on individuals for carrying a handgun without reasonable cause.

Here in the United States, the laws concerning the purchase of firearms vary from state to state, with some, like California and Illinois, being extremely prohibitive, while others are comparatively open and free. The one common denominator, however, is that all gun sales must go through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The only exception to the NICS policy is a few states that do not require private sellers and buyers to conduct such background checks.

In Canada, on the other hand, any individual who wishes to acquire or possess a firearm must hold a valid possession-only or possession-acquisition license, and those are only issued through the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program, which falls under the umbrella of the Deputy Commissioner Policing Support Services. There are also laws in place that control and regulate the types and amounts of ammunition one may purchase, as well as restrictions on magazine capacities.

Purchasers must also wait up to two weeks to take possession of their gun, and even then, the gun owner isn’t free to go out and practice.

“Once someone has purchased a restricted firearm, [a Canadian gun store manager] says there are many rules you must follow, including always having the proper paperwork when you’re in possession of the gun and not making any stops between your home and the shooting range, the only place you can legally fire the gun,” CBC News reported in March.

Violent Crime Rates in Canada
Suffice it to say that Canada’s gun laws are far more restrictive than what we experience here in the good old USA. But what of the crime rates in Canada as they correlate to gun-related violence, and how does Canadian violence compare to that of the United States?

“Crime rates in Canada have been on a long decline, but gun-related homicides and gun violence have increased,” the BBC reported. “Firearm offences have also been on the rise in Canada in recent years. In 2016, there were 2,465 criminal violations involving firearms, an increase of 30 percent since 2013, according to figures released by the federal government.”

More Gun Control Proposed
The increasing gun-related homicides and gun violence are the reason for the progressive gun control agenda proposed by the Liberal party ahead of the 2019 elections.

The Liberal agenda includes a requirement that gun buyers “show valid licenses when transferring firearm ownership enhanced background checks that will look at a person’s entire life history, including a criminal record search and screening for mental illness associated with violence, [and a requirement for authorization] for transporting legally owned restricted and prohibited firearms like handguns and assault weapons,” the BBC reported.

As is the case in the States, Canada has a large rural population that will not sit and watch in silence as their gun rights erode.

John Elliott is a 44-year veteran of law enforcement, writing from Illinois. Contact him at

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