Owning a firearm in Canada is legal for licensed civilians, but there are severe restrictions on their usage. Legislation regarding their purchase and storage is always a hot topic in Ottawa, but nevertheless the rates of ownership in Canada are much lower than in the USA and about at the average for most OECD nations.
The most recent statistics show that guns are often used in murder, assault, harassment and robbery, which have made regulations on their ownership are very strict. Below is a summary of the penalties for firearm offences in Canada.
Gun crimes carry different penalties depending on the nature of the crime. Non-severe penalties for firearm offences include:
- Careless storage or handling – the maximum penalty is between six months plus a $5,000 fine to two years, depending on whether or not it is a summary or indictable offence. The maximum penalty for subsequent offences is 5 years.
- Pointing a firearm – pointing a firearm at another person carries a maximum sentence of six months plus a $5,000 fine to five years in prison.
- Carrying a concealed weapon – a maximum sentence of six months plus a $5,000 fine to five years in prison.
More severe penalties are associated with offences where the perpetrator knowingly disobeys the law. This includes:
- Weapons for dangerous purposes – possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes is a situation when one has a weapon, imitation of a weapon, or unauthorized weapon that they intend to do harm with. This carries a maximum sentence of six months plus a $5,000 fine to ten years in prison.
- Possession of a firearm knowing possession unauthorized – knowingly possessing a firearm that is unauthorized will be seen as intention to commit a crime or engage in other illegal activity. This crime comes with a minimum penalty of one year for the 2nd offence and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
- Possession of restricted weapon with ammunition – the Supreme Court of Canada recently struck down the severe 3-5 year minimum penalty, but the sentencing still ranges between one year plus a $5,000 fine to 10 years in prison.
Staying up-to-date on changes
The new Canadian government is proposing changes to legislation in regards to gun laws. Some proposed bills would limit the transport of weapons, enhance background checks, tighten licensing legislation and make sellers scrutinize buyer credentials. These regulations will be intended to make purchasing, storing and transporting weapons even more difficult within the country.
Although firearm possession is legal in Canada under certain circumstances, breaking these laws will result in fines, jail time (or both) and a criminal record as a result. For those convicted of a firearms related crime and living with a criminal record as a result, obtaining a Canadian pardon can help with getting life back to normal.