Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coming out of the gun closet part 2

Me attempting to look good in an IPSC competition

Sorry for the lag between posts, kids, work, life and video games keep getting in the way! This is the 2nd post in this series, a link to the preceding post is at the bottom of the post.

Do you need a licence and how do you get one?

Short answer is yes, long answer is that if the gun you have is not considered a firearm then no you do not. These would be pellet guns with a muzzle velocity below 500 feet per second (FPS) and antique guns. Police Officers on duty do not need a licence to carry their issue firearms or taking possession of a firearm while carrying out their duties. It comes to a shock to them that they can’t stroll into a gun store and buy a gun or ammo without the licence. As the executor of a will you can take possession of firearms as part of the estate, see more here.

The current gun licence is commonly referred to as a “PAL” which means Possession and Acquisition Licence. The old licences were called FAC’s and there is also the POL which stands for Possession Only Licence. These are being phased out.

The PAL is a Licence for the Individual. It allows them with restrictions to buy, sell and own guns. It is distinct from the gun registry. To get a PAL you will need to take a course and complete an exam. At which point your application is referred to the RCMP who will investigate you to determine if you have any criminal record or probations. You will need to seek permission from your spouse or guardians (if 16 or less years of age), supply character references. Quebec has Law 9 which is a far more invasive review (and possibly unconstitutional)

Once you have passed successfully through all stages of the review you become the proud holder of a PAL. Make careful note of the expiry date, if you let expire and have guns, you are now a criminal.

What is gun registration and does it work?

The first gun registry in Canada was invoked in 1934 and required you to register your handgun. This was to keep guns out of the hands of undesirables such as union members who were seen as potential communists. The current combined long gun and handgun registry created in 1998 and came into force in 2002 covers both long guns (rifles, shotguns) and handguns. The reason for the implementation of the long gun registry is unclear, proponents claim it helps them keep guns out of the hands of criminals, opponents of the registry claiming the real reason is the eventual confiscation of all firearms. I favour the latter theory as history shows us once the government know what, where and who has them, they will eventually come for them. The former theory is flawed as criminals don’t register guns and handgun crime is rising despite 77 years of a handgun registry. For more on the failures of the registry see my other blog “Epic failures of the gun registry”

How it works
Within the database firearms are identified by what is called a Firearm Reference Table (FRT) Number. Each model of gun known to be in Canada is given a FRT number, without out this number a gun can’t be registered, so if they “withdraw” the FRT number from the database, then the model of gun disappears and the clerks at the CFC can’t find it, convenient way to get rid of unwanted types of guns right?

If I go to a store and say I want to buy a Non-restricted Ruger 10/22 carbine, the store clerk takes my PAL, phones the CFC and requests that a Ruger 10/22 carbine Serial XXXXXX currently registered to the store, be transferred to myself, the CFC checks my record and sees that my PAL is valid and there are no prohibitions on my file. If so they then authorize the store to sell me the rifle, and give them a transfer number. I can then take the gun home, in a couple of weeks (in BC, the CFO office is fairly quick and the ladies are quite nice, Ontario and Quebec not so much) I will get a registration certificate in the mail. I must carry a copy of it with me when using/transporting the gun.
Now if I wanted to buy a restricted rifle or pistol, it gets more complicated, I select the gun and pay the money, the store calls the CFC, they start the transfer process, generally it will take a couple of days to a couple of weeks, when the transfer is complete I can pick up the gun and take home. I will need a Temporary “Authorization to Transport” (ATT), once I get the registration papers, I can then use my long term ATT to transport the gun (more on ATT’s later) anywhere that I am authorized. This process varies between Provinces.

What types of guns can you own?

My Dlask 10/22 target rifle

A non-restricted PAL will allow you to own any non-restricted rifle or shotgun, a restricted PAL will allow to own handguns and restricted firearms such as the AR-15. All handguns except for antiques are either restricted or Prohibited (either by barrel length or calibre). Rifles & shotguns are restricted either by barrel length or by name ( Such as the AR-15 and variants)
Prohibited firearms include pistols with a barrel length of less than 106mm, calibres of .25 & ,32cal. Rifles are generally prohibited by name (FAL, AK-47 and variants) Only individuals that are grandfathers or have certain special licences can posses these. If you let your PAL expire, before getting the new one, you will lose your grandfathered status. If you didn’t bother to convert to the PAL system from the FAC and you own one of these you are screwed.

A Degtyaryov's infantry machine gun (no you can't have one, it's prohibited)

Automatic firearms such as sub-machine guns, automatic rifles, pistols, light and medium machine guns are prohibited firearms, only a select few individuals are grandfathered for these and a number of businesses have licence to posses them, generally for the movie industry. To note I am not aware of any homicide ever committed with a registered automatic firearm. They are just to valuable and expensive.
Lastly antique guns such as early Webely MkII revolvers and old muskets are not considered firearms and do not require a PAL .

Replica guns are prohibited, but the law defining such has been murky, any device designed to look like a firearm that can shoot a projectile such as Airsoft guns are not replicas and are not banned. For more information go to Airsoft Canada.

More to come in “Coming out of the gun closest part III”

Older posts in this series
“Coming out of the gun closest part I”