Firearm control has been in place almost as long as firearms have been around, firearm controls are necessary to a point to ensure safety and security to all citizens whether or not they own firearms. Join me as we take a walk through history and explore the Canadian fire arms control laws through the years. This is going to be part one of a three part series so be sure to stay with us so you can explore the entire history with us.
It all began a little before 1892 when Justices of the Peace would have the authority to give a six-month jail term to anyone who was carrying a handgun with no reasonable need to fear assault towards themselves or their property. How would you prove whether you had reasonable need or not though?
Once 1892 came around so did the first Criminal Code, this code required citizens to carry a basic permit, known at that time as a “Certificate of Exemption,” in order to carry a handgun. This Code meant that anyone with the permit could carry a handgun even if they did not have reasonable concern to fear an assault against themselves or their property. Also at this point you had to be 16 or older to purchase a handgun, and anyone caught selling to a minor would suffer the consequences. It was at this point that the official record of sale was kept by vendors.
In 1913 if you were caught carrying your handgun outside of your home or place of business without a permit you could suffer a three month jail sentence. It was also in this year that the first specific search, seizure, and forfeiture powers for guns as well as other weapons were created.
Fast forward a few years to 1919-1920 and you can see the Criminal Code was amended to require citizens to obtain a permit to possess a firearm no matter where the firearm was kept. You could only get a permit from the magistrate, chief of police, or the RCMP and would need renewed annually. Records were still only kept at the local level; there was no central registry at this time.
Let’s travel to 1921 where the Criminal Code was again amended, this time the amendement repealed the requirement for everyone who owned a firearm to have a permit. Instead only “aliens” or immigrants needed a permit.
The firearms controls stayed pretty consistent for the next few years, until 1932-1933 when there were now specific requirements set up for issuing handgun permits. It was during this time that the age for possessing a firearm was dropped from 16 years to 12 years of age. It was also at this time when mandatory minimum consecutive sentences were put in place. It was 2 years for the possession of a firearm or concealed firearm while committing a crime, and the punishment for carrying a handgun outside the home or business rose from three months to five years maximum.
It was 1934 when the first real registration requirement was created. The changes now require records of the owner, such as name, address, birthdate, as well as the firearm information must be recorded and kept on file. The records were kept by the Commissioner of the RCMP or the police departments designated as firearms registries.
That about wraps up Part one of our journey through Canadian firearms control, join us for part two next time.