Friday, February 25, 2005
Laws Governing the Import and Manufacture of Hollow-point Handgun Ammunition
This area of law is exotic, however, the following principles come into play with respect to the possession and use of hollow-point handgun ammunition..
1. Importation of hollow-point handgun ammunition is governed by the Explosives Act.
2. "Safety cartridges" (ammunition) come under the Act, but are generally exempt from almost all provisions.
3. Many years ago, citing the Hague Convention (which only relates to bullets used by soldiers in war), some dolt in the Explosives Branch put a ban on the importation of "hollow-point handgun ammunition" in place, by classing each such cartridge as a "prohibited explosive."
4. The importation of hollow-point rifle ammunition is not prohibited -- say, for the .44 Magnum Ruger rifles, the .357 Magnum and .38 Special and 9mm and .40 Marlin rifles, .22 rimfire rifles, etc., etc. -- so many people have imported hollow-point rifle ammunition in those calibres. Sometimes, they have been required to attach a little sticker to each box of cartridges, saying "For use in rifles only."
5. The sticker has no effect. Once the ammunition has been legally imported, it comes in as a "permitted explosive" which is not and cannot be a "prohibited explosive." That being so, it cannot be retroactively made a "prohibited explosive" by a person loading it into their handgun.
Therefore, ammunition in boxes with that sticker can legally be fired in handguns, because the only possible charge is possession of a "prohibited explosive" and both the Explosives Branch and Canada Customs certified that each cartridge in the shipment was a "permitted explosive" and not a "prohibited explosive" in order to let them into Canada. It is not possible to prosecute a person for using hollow-point ammunition in a handgun because they would be found innocent as a result of "official misdirection."
6. In the Regulations, at page 2715 of Canada Gazette Part II, Vol 132, No 20, there is a class established by Order in Council SOR 98-462, "prohibited ammunition." It does not include hollow-point ammunition. It covers only handgun ammunition "designed, manufactured or altered so as to be capable of penetrating body armour...", any projectile that is designed to ignite on impact (De Wilde .303, for example), or to explode on impact (7.65mm Argentine spotter cartridges, for example), or any cartridge that contains flechettes.
7. Hollow-point handgun ammunition made in Canada, commercially or privately, does not have to be imported so there is nothing that the Explosives Branch can or does do about it. Such cartridges are perfectly legal.
8. Where hollow-point handgun ammunition has been imported for use by police or other government agencies, and it comes on the market as surplus to requirements, it is legal unless it is stolen property.