The Firearms Act divides firearms generally into three categories: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. In addition, antique firearms could be said to comprise a unique category of firearm.
Each class of firearms is governed by different rules regarding storage, transportation, acquisition and lawful use.
Firearms can be prohibited for a wide range of reasons, ranging from barrel length and action type to appearance and model name.
The following are examples of prohibited firearms:
- Handguns with a barrel length less than 106 mm (4.17 inches).
- Handguns in .32 or .25 caliber.
- Full-automatic firearms.
- Firearms that have been permanently converted from full-automatic to semi-automatic.
Also, many firearms have been classified as prohibited by executive “Order-in-Council”, for reasons other than barrel length or function. Many “scary-looking” military-style rifles were prohibited on this basis, such as the AK-47 and the FN FAL.
In general, owners of prohibited class firearms were grandfathered into the new regime, meaning that they could keep their firearms but could not transfer them to non-grandfathered individuals. In addition, no new prohibited firearms can be imported into the country.
There are several different categories of restricted firearms. They include:
- All handguns that are not prohibited.
- Any non-prohibited semi-automatic centrefire rifle with a barrel length of less than 470 mm (18.5 inches).
- Any firearm that can be fired when it can be reduced by folding, telescopic stock, etc. to an overall length of less than 660 mm (26 inches).
- Firearms prescribed as restricted by Order-in-Council (such as the AR-15 family of rifles)
The non-restricted class of firearms comprises all other rifles and shotguns that do not fall into the above categories.