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Legislative Background

The fight for sensible gun control laws in Canada is a long and continuing process, with many legislative battles already fought and a strong likelihood of more in the future.

Bill C-19

Passed in April 2012, Bill C-19 is principally known for eliminating the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns. This Bill went much farther in weakening gun control in Canada however, eliminating the mandatory validation of licences before firearms sales as well as the obligation for gun dealers to maintain records of sales. Here you will find the background on Bill C-19, as well as briefs and releases from a variety of public health and safety experts and concerned Canadians against this Bill.

Firearms Legislative History

Here you will find a summary of important Canadian milestones and challenges in the fight to implement sensible control on all firearms.

The regulations on firearms in Canada have changed a lot over the years. In Firearms Regulations Then and Now, you will find an overview of how rules on licensing, prohibited firearms, records, and more, have evolved over time.

The Case for Licensing all Gun Owners and Registering all Firearms

Screening and licensing firearm owners reduces the risks that dangerous people will have access to weapons and registration reinforces licensing, as it holds gun owners accountable for their firearms and reduces the chances that their guns will be diverted to unlicensed owners. That link between licensing of firearm owners and the registration of their firearms was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in a unanimous decision on the constitutionality of the Firearms Act in 2000. You can find information on licensing firearm owners here. Most countries register firearms, here you will find information on why registration is an essential public safety tool.

Controls on Restricted Firearms (including Handguns)

The Firearms Act and its regulations include specific measures for firearms that are classified as restricted. Click here to find more about controls on restricted firearms including handguns.

Restrictions on Military Assault Weapons

Military weapons are not designed for hunting or target shooting, but for killing people during combat and are easy to use. They have no place in the hands of civilians. Click here to learn about Canadian controls on these firearms.

How do Canada’s Regulations Compare Internationally?

For information on how Canada’s legislation and regulations on firearms compare to other countries:

  • Consult comparative legislative tool and Canadian analysis here.
  • Consult Chapter 9-Balancing Acts: Regulation of Civilian Firearm Possession of the 2011 Small Arms Survey here.
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