Criminal Code

The Criminal Code of Canada is the federal legislation which  is at the heart of Canada’s criminal justice system. The Criminal Code creates the majority of true criminal offences and sets out the procedure for most aspects of the judicial process.

In addition, much of the firearms regulatory framework is implemented by the Criminal Code. Part III (“Firearms and Other Weapons”) of the Code creates the statutory requirements for licensing, registration and transportation permits.

Offences relating to all aspects of gun use, including possession, acquisition, storage and transportation, are set out in Part III (sections 84 – 117.11) of the Code.

In addition, Regulations (laws made by the executive via delegated legislative authority) made pursuant to the Criminal Code, further expand upon the provisions set out in the Criminal Code.  Some of those important Regulations include:

  • Regulations Prescribing Antique Firearms
  • Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted
  • Regulations Proscribing the Extension of Amnesty Periods

The Criminal Code gun provisions, and specifically their interplay with the Firearms Act, are complex and can be difficult to understand in their entirety. Well-intentioned gun owners can, and do, fall between the cracks and inadvertently run afoul of the law.

The starting point for the criminal law regulation of firearms is section 91 (1) of the Criminal Code which criminalizes the possession of a firearm without the proper licence and registration certificate:

91. (1) Subject to subsections (4) and (5), every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm without being the holder of

(a) a licence under which the person may possess it; and

(b) a registration certificate for the firearm.

The Code creates the following relatively common firearms offences:

  • Careless use of a firearm – s. 86 (1)
  • Improper storage – s. 86 (2)
  • Pointing a firearm – s. 87 (1)
  • Losing firearm and not reporting – s. 105 (1)

Section 109 of the Code sets out the system for firearms prohibition order, where individuals convicted of certain offences may be banned from owning firearms for periods ranging from ten years to life.

Section 117.05 allows for the police (or similar official) to apply to a judge for an order to allow for the forfeiture of firearms or other weapons, where the police believe that “it is not desirable in the interests of the safety” of the public or that individual for the person to continue to possess said items. This procedure often follows the execution of a search warrant pursuant to s. 117.04, wherein firearms and related material is seized by police.

View the Criminal Code at the Justice Canada website.

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