Becoming a licensed gun owner in Canada is a somewhat lengthy, but relatively straightforward procedure. Unfortunately, the process can often be confusing for those new to the shooting sports.
Step 1 – Safety course
The first step on the road to legal firearm ownership is the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC).
The Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) was developed in partnership with the provinces and territories, national organizations with an ongoing interest in firearms safety, and many firearms and hunter education course instructors from across Canada.
If you also want the “Restricted” designation (for handgun and restricted rifle ownership), you will also need to learn the material in the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC).
Topics covered in the safety course include:
- the evolution of firearms, major parts, types and actions;
- basic firearms safety practices;
- operating firearm actions;
- safe handling and carry procedures;
- firing techniques and procedures;
- care of firearms;
- responsibilities of the firearms owner/user; and
- safe storage, display, transportation and handling of firearms.
Each course takes roughly a day to complete. The test (discussed in Step 2) is usually administered at the end of the course by the instructor.
Alternatively, anyone can simply challenge the exam without taking the safety courses first. Even you have experience with firearms, it is highly recommended that you study the safety videos and safety course print materials.
Step 2 – Safety exam
The Canadian Firearms Safety Course Exam covers the material taught in the safety course. It has two components: a written multiple choice section and a practical firearms-handling portion. There is no live-fire testing.
The written part of the exam has 50 multiple choice questions. Applicants must answer at least 80% correctly in order to successfully complete this portion of the exam.
The practical portion of the exam requires that applicants handle at least three types of firearms (e.g. pump action, lever action and bolt action) under various different conditions. Points are deducted when an applicant points a gun outside the designated safe area, exercises poor trigger finger discipline, or attempts to load the incorrect ammunition. Like the written portion of the exam, the minimum passing mark is 80%.
Step 3 – The application
For individuals applying for their first firearms licence, this form should be used.
Processing a firearms licence application involves a variety of background checks. In some cases, in-depth investigations are conducted. The RCMP requires a minimum of 45 days to process a firearms licence application.
Step 4 – Waiting period
There is a minimum 28-day waiting period for all applicants who do not presently hold a valid firearms licence. Once this waiting period is complete, the licence should be issued without undue delay.
Step 5 – Authorization to Transport (restricted firearms)
For individuals to possess and acquire restricted firearms (handguns, short-barreled semi-automatic rifles, etc.), an additional paperwork hurdle must be overcome. In order to transport a restricted firearm (to the range, for example), an Authorization to Transport (ATT) must be acquired. In Ontario, handgun owners apply through their shooting clubs for a long-term ATT, which allows the owner to transport the gun to and from the range. These Authorizations usually expire within three years of issue.
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