A lot has happened in America and Canada since a white domestic terrorist came to Buffalo and allegedly killed 10 people in a racist attack. Since May 14, 2022, there have been additional mass shootings in America, including Ulvadi, Texas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

These extremely violent events have restarted the debate around gun rules, laws, and control. While the vast majority of mass shootings occur in America, the United States isn't the only country discussing changing its laws.

While both the United States Congress and the New York State Legislature have bills up for debate that would amend current gun laws, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Canadian Parliament are also making changes to their gun laws.

Those changes, if enacted as currently planned, include an all our assault weapon ban along with further restrictions on other semi-automatic weapons in the country. If all of these things come to bear in Canada, it would be just about impossible to purchase a weapon in the country.

Knowing that fact made me wonder, exactly how difficult is it to purchase a firearm in Canada? I'm wondering specifically about Ontario since it's our closest neighbor here in Buffalo.

How To Buy A Gun In Ontario

Gun ownership in Canada is regulated by the Canadian Firearms Act and its Canadian Firearms Program (CFP). This program manages firearms licenses and registration and maintains national safety training standards. In order to own a firearm in Canada you have to be an adult (at least 18 years old) and already have your Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) for the type of weapon you want to acquire. The rules for gun ownership are managed on a country level, so it's essentially the same regardless of the province you are in.

Firearms Safety Course

In order to apply for a PAL, you have to be at least 18 years old and pass a Firearms Safety Course. There are different courses depending on the type of firearm you want to get. Guns are separated into different classes or classifications of weapons:

  • non-restricted firearms,
    • such as
      • Most rifles and shotguns are non-restricted, but there are plenty of exceptions.
  • restricted firearms,
    • like
      • Handguns that are not otherwise prohibited,
      • Shotguns and most centerfire rifles with barrels shorter than 19 inches,
      • and rifles and shotguns that can fine when their length is reduced to less than 26 inches by a folding telescoping stock,
  • and prohibited firearms
    • such as
      • Handguns with a barrel shorter than 4.2 inches,
      • Handguns that are designed to shoot .25 or .32 caliber rounds
      • and guns that have been adapted from a rifle or shotgun that has been cut, sawed, or altered, and are shorter than 26 inches in length.

The safety course you need will be determined by the type of gun you want.

Firearms License

Once you pass your safety course, you can apply for a license. The fees can range from approximately $100CAD to more than $500CAD. Applicants will need proof of identity and citizenship. During the application process, officials do a variety of background and reference checks. These include a lifetime background check for mental health, financial, and other personal issues. Any past run-ins with the law or domestic issues may disqualify you. Officials also require several references.

You may also be interviewed by investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police surrounding your desire to own a weapon.

Purchase Your Firearm

If you pass your background checks and are approved for a license, then you are free to purchase a weapon from a gunshop or a private individual in Canada. All gun sales in Canada must be made through a firearms dealer, so even if you buy one from your friend, you will need your PAL and other forms to purchase and register your gun. Most firearms in Canada must be registered, and the registration process is highly regulated.

There are also several mandatory minimum waiting periods for each step in the gun buying process. At a minimum, someone would have to wait at least 28 days between starting and finishing the gun buying process.

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