Carrying a firearm in Canada


July 9, 2009, 12:03 PM
On the one hand, Canada's gun laws, especially WRT handguns, are more restrictive than they are in most US jurisdictions.

On the other, I get the impression that carrying a .45-70 or somesuch is more common in the Canadian outdoors than it is here in the US.

Can anyone offer a general run-down of guns in Canada (cultural, legal, etc.)?

If one is going on a camping trip north of the border, is it worth the hassle to bring a firearm (long gun, I presume)?

Will it be legal to use it as camp defense, etc.?

Is transport within Canada a hassle or asking for any legal troubles?

Would carrying something like a Guide Gun be seen as perfectly normal in the woods, or would I be likely to find myself face down and handcuffed (politely of course; it is Canada after all)?

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July 9, 2009, 12:57 PM
You should check Canadian Customs website first. IIRC you can't just ride around Canada with a long gun unless you're going hunting, to a competition, etc unless you have a reason. I know Canada will let you bring in a long gun if you're hunting but there are restrictions.

July 9, 2009, 01:28 PM
"Protection from wild animals" is a legitimate reason to declare and bring a long gun into Canada, AFAIK.

I'm wondering, though, how practical this is.

Prince Yamato
July 9, 2009, 01:48 PM
The further west and north you go in Canada, the less liberal the country gets (barring the extremes of Quebec and Vancouver). Even when I lived in Toronto, I found that Canadians tended to be rather lax about laws they found unjust. In Toronto's case, it was usually people bringing dogs into the malls and subways. In the case of western Canada, I'd be willing to bet that they'd look the other way even if it WAS against the law. However, I still would not be willing to do it on the chance that I ran into the one Saskatoon RCMP who voted Liberal or NDP.

July 9, 2009, 01:50 PM
Let me clarify: I don't intend to break any laws. I would just want to give us a fair chance of not becoming dinner.:)

July 9, 2009, 02:06 PM
When we drove into Canada for an afternoon, we crossed that the border entry point just north of Bonners Ferry.

"Do you have any firearms with you" is a stock question.

I don't know what the formalities of bringing one in, and I would imagine your paperwork would need to be in order for the return trip, as US Border & Customs dudes are at the other gate.

I do know they ask.

July 9, 2009, 02:11 PM
We turned around at Bonner's and went to Montana.

Next time, we might want to go farther north.:)

We had several "prohibited" firearms in the car, insofar as I know Canadian law, but we didn't plan to go to Canada at that time anyway.

July 9, 2009, 02:45 PM
Try the RCMP website.

Short form: Most rifles and shotguns are fairly easy, you paper them at Customs. Expect to have to show some reason for soing so. Protection against wildlife is a listed reason.

Pistols are harder. You need an Authorization to Transport (ATT) form, which must be obtained beforehand. Forget about personal protection or hunting, you are pretty well restricted to competition. And there are some pistol types that they won't let you bring in.

And yes, you should register your firearms and other valuables with U.S. Customs before leaving. It establishes that you own them.

July 9, 2009, 02:48 PM
I'm really wondering, though, if I bring in a rifle, what practical use is it?

Where could I actually have it loaded?

What transportation restrictions are there?

I'm not looking for protection from urban crime. Canada isn't a scary place, with the exception of some specific, avoidable locations. I'm interested in camp defense.

Any Canadians out there today?:)

July 9, 2009, 03:36 PM
You need to check out the Canadian Firearms Centre.

Canadian law really doesn't support much defensive use of firearms..... Alot of rules regarding when you may have the firearm loaded... Backwoods camping you may be able to keep the rifle loaded, but in a vehicle or any indoor location, pretty much not... In fact, a lock on the action or trigger is usually required, and generally the ammo is to be stored separately....

All the laws are laid out on the above website, spend some time there. Try not to get too depressed :(.


July 9, 2009, 05:07 PM
Handguns are pretty much a no-go.

If you want to bring a rifle/shotgun into Canada somewhat regularily, I suggest you get a license in Canada, and register your gun with the RCMP. You will then be able to bring your gun in as often as you like for no charge, with few hassles. Temporarily, it is $30 for a 60-day license. The PAL costs $60, and is valid for 5 years.

In terms of use, if you are going camping, the only restricted areas for longguns would be some provincial and national parks. You can carry your gun loaded anywhere you can legally shoot it (crown land, most private land, etc), and can carry it unloaded anywhere.

In terms of transport, just make sure it's unloaded, and in your trunk at customs. Any time you leave the vehicle unattended it must be in the trunk or hidden from view. If you are bringing it into a hotel room it has to be locked with a cable/trigger lock, or in a locked case. If you are camping in the middle of nowhere, it can be loaded.

Using long guns for protection from wild animals is perfectly legal and accepted. Most guys I know tend to carry smaller guns, like 14" 870's and 16" guideguns.

As a general rule, as long as you are not waving the gun around in an urban area, you will be fine.

Hope this helps.

July 9, 2009, 06:39 PM
Oh come on now, if Canada allowed legal carry they'd be hurting the business enterprises of the Hell's Angels, Mongol, Bloods, and Crips, and that would be discrimination. And discrimination is bad. So bad King Lear failed to use it.

July 10, 2009, 05:49 PM
You need to understand the official Canadian government regulations toward guns of any kind, so here goes!

Speaking from my residence in Calgary in 1999 and 2000 while working there (and arranging THAT and living there as an American is another story! Difficult and expensive...intentionally), and a recent hunting visit:

Bringing ANY long gun...rifle, any caliber, or rather iffy. Canada provides its Customs officers with a lot of latitude, and if they choose to, they will prohibit entry even if the rules permit entry. Remember, you are entering a foriegn country, and you have no "rights as an American" have only the rights they choose to allow you to have. Be NICE to the officials...even if they should not be particularly nice or agreeable to you. You have no recourse.

Don't even try to bring in any will be confiscated at the border. Canadian citizens have to really jump through the hoops to legally have one. And .25 and .32 Auto pocket pistols are every bit as illegal as full machineguns.

Resident Canadians cannot have or even borrow a long firearm for hunting unless they possess a central government-issued permit. Unless the son has that card, a father cannot legally loan a gun to his son to hunt or shoot. If the father dies, he cannot bequeath his gun to anyone, including family, who do not have a card...the police simply confiscate and destroy them. In order to get one so I could legally have my hunting rifle...which I was VERY lucky that I was allowed to bring in (Thanks, considerate Customs official!!)...I had to take and pass a stringent hunting safety course lasting over a month (40% of the students failed the very stringent government-administered final practical test!), then take the certificate to the local police chief, fill out a three-page application form for the gun permit, including providing three government official personal references, none of which can be family members, and answer such questions as why I felt the need to have a firearm.

Next step! A uniformed policeman will come to your home and interview your family members, asking if it is OK with them if you have a gun. Next they visit your neighbors with the same question. Any "nos" and your quest is denied and over.

If all replies are affirmative, the police chief will then sign your application and mail it off to the central government. Within 6-months you will receive your firearm card in the mail. You must have the card in possession to buy any ammunition, and few places sell ammunition.

Then you can start the process to get a hunting license, good for one only of one specific type of animal....cheapest for deer at about $25-$30, more expensive for other animals. Want two deer? Buy a second license, no discount. But before you can buy any licenses, you must buy a $10 Wildlife Support card...which is a farce, as fewer Canadians are undergoing the hassle and cost to hunt, and the wildlife population is exploding to the point where the deer, elk, ect are being poisoned or shot and let lay by the ranchers. By the way, ranchers have it much easier to possess long guns than the city folk.

On a pre-arranged elk hunting trip to a game farm in northern Sasketchewan last October, at the border entry point we had to present papers from the game farm, have the rifles in separate locked gun cases packed in the car trunk, have the ammunition in a separate locked case, and pay $25/rifle for the permit. Bringing the rifles back into the United States was more bothersome than the entry into Canada!:fire:

So there you are...this is the legal situation you will be bringing your guns into. On the other hand, Canada treasures the revenue from visiting American hunters, so papered hunters get special consideration.

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