Answered here:

    Questions about Handguns, Restricted and Prohibited Firearms in Canada


    STOP! This website has an entire page covering the process for obtaining handguns in Canada.

    Are handguns legal in Canada?

    At the time of writing it is lawful to own handguns or other restricted firearms for the purposes of target practice, target shooting competition, and collecting if you have a licence.

    Owning handguns requires passing a second safety course (the CRFSC), and there is a more rigorous application process. Restricted firearms and their ammunition have more restrictive storage and transportation requirements, and they may generally only be used at RCMP approved ranges.

    Lawful handgun owners in Canada commit virtually no violent crimes with those handguns, and those handguns are almost never stolen or otherwise used in violent crimes by others. The vast majority of handguns used in violent crimes in Canada are obtained illegally, and have not been stolen from lawful handgun owners.

    This website has an entire page covering how to obtain handguns and other restricted firearms in Canada.


    Do I need to be a member of a gun club to own a handgun?

    Generally speaking you will need to join a shooting club. The RCMP CFP will generally not transfer the registration of a restricted firearm like a handgun to you unless you have a provable lawful use for it. This topic is covered in much greater detail in the section on lawful use of the dedicated handguns page of this website.


    What is the difference between Restricted and Prohibited?

    Presently you may obtain a license to acquire and possess restricted firearms by taking and passing an additional safety class and applying for a one.

    It is not generally possible for an individual to be granted an authorization to acquire or possess prohibited firearms except under special circumstances. Restricted basically means "more difficult to own" where as Prohibited basically means "not allowed to own." Although that's not quite complete because some people are allowed to own certain prohibited firearms for certain purposes. However if those purposes don't apply to you, they probably never will. It's not something you can just get if you really, really to want and are willing to do extra paperwork.


    What guns are Restricted?

    The "Restricted Firearms" classification includes:

    • Handguns, which are firearms designed or adapted to be fired with one hand
      Unless they're in the Prohibited class for some specific reason
    • Semi-Automatic firearms with barrels less than 470mm
      Unless they're in the Prohibited class. Semi-automatic firearms fire one projectile with each press of the trigger, not requiring additional action by the user such as operating a bolt.
    • Firearms designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to be less than 660mm long
    • Firearms which the government declares to be Restricted
      Such as the AR-15 which would by its inherent characteristics generally be a Non-Restricted Firearm because it operates the same way as virtually every other semi-automatic rifle.

    The Justice Laws website has a page where you can see the regulations prescribing firearms as either restricted or prohibited despite how they would be classified based on their actual features.


    What guns are Prohibited?

    The "Prohibited Firearms" classification includes:

    • Handguns with barrels of 105mm or less.
      The rational being they're too easily concealed, and not suitable for target shooting.
    • Handguns in 25 or 32 caliber.
      Unless specifically prescribed not to be because the specific firearm is for use in specially governed international competition.
    • Any firearm altered or adapted to be shorter than 660mm
    • Any firearm altered or adapted to have a barrel less than 457mm
    • Automatic Firearms (machine guns)
      Which fire multiple projectiles with a single pressure of the trigger, even if they've been altered to fire only once with each pressure (semi-automatic).
    • Firearms which the government declares to be Prohibited
      Such as all variants of the AK-47, including all semi-automatic ones.

    The Justice Laws website has a page where you can see the regulations prescribing firearms as either restricted or prohibited despite how they would be classified based on their actual features.


    Are assault rifles legal in Canada?

    Assault rifles are prohibited firearms in Canada. An assault rifle is a fully-automatic firearm (machine gun) which fires an intermediate cartridge. That is one which is more powerful than a handgun but less powerful than a full sized rifle cartridge. Since they are machine guns they are prohibited firearms.

    However, many firearms which look like assault rifles but which work differently are legal. How a firearm looks and works are different things. Just because a rifle is clad in black plastic instead of glossy wood, or doesn't have a sleek shape does not make it more dangerous.

    This video by Officer Leroy Pyle of the San Jose, California Police Department does an excellent job of calmly explaining the differences in terminology which has been causing confusion going back many decades:


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