There are three general classifications of firearms in Canada, non-restricted, restricted and prohibited.
- Non – Restricted – Generally rifles and shotguns
- Restricted – Generally handguns
- Prohibited – Guns that are deemed to be not allowed for several reasons including function and design (i.e. full auto, short barrel, etc.)
According to the Criminal Code, a prohibited firearm is:
- a handgun that:
- has a barrel equal to or less than 105 mm in length
- is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge, but does not include any such handgun that is prescribed, where the handgun is for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union
- a firearm that is adapted from a rifle or shotgun whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so modified is:
- Less than 660 mm in length, or
- 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length
- an automatic firearm, whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger
- any firearm that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearm
The fascinating thing is, as with many rules, there are exceptions. If, for example, an individual legally owned a firearm before it was delegated as prohibited, they could be grandfathered and permitted to not only retain that firearm but also acquire other firearms in that classification.
Under section 12 of the firearms act, individuals with the following designations on their PAL can legally be in possession of the following:
- s.12(2) – fully automatics
- s.12(3) – converted automatics
- s.12(4) – firearms prohibited by former prohibition order No. 12
- s.12(5) – firearms prohibited by former prohibition order No. 13
- s.12(6) – handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less or that discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition.
“On licences issued on or after April 10, 2005, these firearms will be referred to as 12(6.1) firearms.”
As the vast majority of PAL holders that have prohibited status are those of the 12-6 variety, this article is to discuss what a person can do with those firearms.
First the good news, unlike some prohibited firearms, you can take your 12-6 firearms to the range and shoot them.
Answer: You may transport a prohibited handgun that discharges .25 or .32 calibre ammunition, or that has a barrel length of 105 mm or less to a range. Other prohibited firearms may no longer be transported to a shooting range. However, they can be transported for other purposes, such as a change of residence, a change of ownership, export, repair, participation in a gun show, or lawful disposal.
We already mentioned that the firearm could be transferred to another individual with the same licence conditions on their PAL, but did you know that if you or someone you are related to own a prohibited 12-6 firearm it can be transferred to a next of kin as outlined in section 12-7 of the firearms act:
Next of kin of grandfathered individuals- (7) A particular individual is eligible to hold a licence authorizing the specific individual to possess a particular handgun referred to in subsection (6.1) that was manufactured before 1946 if the particular individual is the spouse or common-law partner or a brother, sister, child or grandchild of an individual who was eligible under this subsection or subsection (6) to hold a licence authorizing the individual to possess the particular handgun.
As there are only a limited number of people who can be in possession of prohibited firearms in Canada, the market for selling them is pretty dry and, unless there is historical or collectible significance, very often owners are unable to sell these firearms for much, or anything at all in Canada which brings us to our next option of selling them outside of Canada.
For prohibited firearms, you will need to apply for an export permit through Global Affairs Canada, and you will also need to notify the RCMP Registrar so that they are aware the firearm is no longer going to be registered to you.
Remember, when exporting a firearm you not only have to comply with Canadian laws but also the laws of the country the firearm will be imported in. While it is not an overly difficult task for those who know what to do, many opt to have a licensed business take care of the red tape which is an added expense but provides a great deal of protection.
There is an option to change the legal classification of a 12-6 firearm, but it must be done by a firearms business that is appropriately licensed by the RCMP to make such a conversion. The legal classification can be changed by installing a longer barrel or by deactivating the firearm. In the following video, we take a couple of short barrel revolvers and install barrels over 105 mm and then take care of the legal paperwork for a client. Watch our YouTube video here.
It is important to note, if you have a licensed business do this work for you, the short barrel that has been removed is now legally considered a prohibited device, virtually the same classification as a suppressor, and unless for some reason you are allowed to be in possession of a prohibited device, which most aren’t, the business has to retain the barrel.
A firearm is defined by law and there are numerous things that can be done so that the firearm no longer meets that definition. As such, the RCMP has put forth guidelines for deactivation which assist in classification change process but it is important to note that these guidelines are not law and the final classification change tends to be at the discretion of the registrar. We have seen firearms that do not meet the legal definition to be called a firearm which the registrar still required to be registered, and we have also seen firearms that exceed the deactivation guidelines which the registrar would not deem deactivated.
Finally, you can turn the firearm over to a properly licensed business or your local police station. Important note, if you intend to turn your firearm over to the police for destruction, make sure to call them ahead of time and explain your intentions so that they can have an officer who is familiar with the process present. To avoid drama, you don’t want to show up at a police station unannounced with a firearm in tow.
To summarize, with your 12-6, or 12-6.1, firearm you can:
- Shoot your firearm at the range
- Sell it to other 12-6 licensed individuals
- Export the firearm from Canada to sell
- Change its classification by altering its barrel length, calibre or deactivating
- Turn the firearm into the police
- Donate to a licensed firearms business
If you have firearms that you wish to dispose of, we encourage you to contact us directly as we have assisted firearms owners across Canada legally dispose of unwanted ammunition, firearms and accessories. In turn, we have used those donations to further firearm safety and education for new and experienced enthusiasts alike.