Saskatchewan Hunter Safety Course


Firearm Laws in Canada

As a firearm owner, you have a responsibility to know and obey the laws that control gun ownership and use. Laws are passed to help meet what society expects of firearm owners.

We all want to do what we can to ensure gun owners are safe, responsible people. As responsible gun owners, we also want to guard against firearms falling into untrained hands. In this section, we will learn about the law, who makes them, what we have to do to be legal and how we can do that.

Who Makes the Laws?

There are different levels of government in Canada. Government starts at the municipal, or local level. This is the town council or Rural Municipality level.

From there, we go to the Provincial Government and then to the Federal Government. Each level has certain responsibilities and restrictions within which to work.

For example, at the local level, the Rural Municipality may want to restrict what types of firearms can be used when within its' boundaries. We see this type of law in "Archery Only" areas or "Shotgun Only" areas. These types of laws may be passed because of the way houses or livestock are distributed within an area. Municipal government may also have laws that restrict the use of firearms within a rural municipality or city limits.

At the provincial level, the Provincial Government sets season dates, bag limits and general laws that apply to the whole province. They work closely with the local governments to address everyone's concerns. Sometimes, the Provincial Government has to administer laws that are set by the Federal Government in a way that best suits the province.

At the federal level, the Federal Government sets down laws that apply all across Canada such as restrictions on the barrel lengths of firearms and magazine capacities. They also set laws about who can and cannot own firearms and how firearm owners are screened.

Sometimes there are special agencies responsible for laws in a specific area. For example, transportation departments may make regulations about how gunpowder must be transported.

Let's explore the requirements for obtaining and possessing a firearm. The law states that in order to possess or acquire a firearm you must have a federal firearms licence.

Acquiring a firearm licence includes:

  • Buying
  • Receiving as a gift or from an estate
  • Or any other method in which you take possession of a firearm

There are currently two federal firearms licences available depending on your age:

  • 12 to 17 years old - Minor's Licence
  • 18 years and older - Possession Acquisition Licence (PAL)