The Firearms Act, introduced in 1995, was the centrepiece of the gun control scheme enacted through Bill C-68. It replaced the former FAC (firearms acquisition certificate) with a bona fide licensing scheme, through PALs (Possession and Acquisition Licence) and POLs (Possession Only Licence, discontinued in 2001).
The provisions of the Firearms Act were designed to dovetail with the companion sections in the Criminal Code. Indeed, the Code relies on the Act and its Regulations to form the basis of numerous Criminal Code gun offences.
The Act sets out the requirements for licensing and the process to be followed for applications, revocations and appeals. The Act also details the considerable powers of the provincial firearms officers (and their agents) to inspect gun storage, demand compliance and seize firearms.
However, in many ways the most important aspect of the Act for ordinary gun owners relates to the Regulations made pursuant to the Firearms Act. For example, the following Regulations set out some of the most important rules concerning firearms storage, transportation, transfer and use:
- Authorizations to Transport Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Firearms Regulations
- Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations
- Firearms Registration Certificates Regulations
- Firearms Licences Regulations
- Shooting Clubs and Shooting Ranges Regulations
The Firearms Act is a complex piece legislation and competent legal advice should be sought in interpreting and relying upon its provisions.
The complete Firearms Act can be accessed at the Justice Canada site.