A Guide to the Ban of so-called “Military Type Assault Rifles”
On May 1, 2020, the Federal Government passed an Order in Council (OIC) that marks the first step in the ban and confiscation of multiple models of firearms that were legally possessed by Canadian firearms owners for the purpose of hunting, collecting or sports shooting. Here is what you need to know, in order to protect your rights, and ensure that you do not run afoul of the law.
- Q: What is a “Military Type Assault Rifle”
A: It is a coined term that is meant to convey that such firearms are not appropriate for hunting or sports shooting. Indeed, true assault rifles, i.e. those that have a select fire capability, have been prohibited in Canada since at least 1969.
- Q: Which firearms are covered by the ban?
A: There are 11 main types of firearms (representing approximately 1500 models and so-called variants”) encompassed in the ban.
The 11 types of now banned firearms are as follows:
- The firearms of the designs commonly known as the SG-550 rifle and SG-551 carbine, and any variants or modified versions of them, including the SAN Swiss Arms
- The firearms of the designs commonly known as the M16, AR-10 and AR-15 rifles and the M4 carbine, and any variants or modified versions of them
- The firearm of the design commonly known as the Ruger Mini-14 rifle, and any variant or modified version of it
- The firearm of the design commonly known as the US Rifle, M14, and any variant or modified version of it
- The firearm of the design commonly known as the Vz58 rifle, and any variant or modified version of it
- The firearm of the design commonly known as the Robinson Armament XCR rifle, and any variant or modified version of it,
- The firearms of the designs commonly known as the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 carbine and CZ Scorpion EVO 3 pistol, and any variants or modified versions of them
- The firearm of the design commonly known as the Beretta Cx4 Storm carbine, and any variant or modified version of it.
- The firearms of the designs commonly known as the SIG Sauer SIG MCX carbine, SIG Sauer SIG MCX pistol, SIG Sauer SIG MPX carbine and SIG Sauer SIG MPX pistol, and any variants or modified versions of them
- Any firearm with a bore diameter of 20 mm or greater
- Any firearm capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 joules
- Q: Is there a list of firearms that are specifically banned?
A: Yes, but the list is not exhaustive. The Order in Council that was published on May 1, 2020 lists specifically banned firearms for each of the 11 categories mentioned above. However, the language used makes it clear that each of the 11 lists is not meant to be exhaustive. Hence, there is a genuine possibility that firearm models not mentioned on the specific list, but that fit the description of one of the 11 banned type, are also banned.
Here is a link to the OIC featuring the list:
- Q: Am I going to be grandfathered, since I already own one or more of these firearms?
A: For now, the answer is no! The Government has elected not to grandfather any of these firearms for now, except for natives engaging in subsistence hunting or exercising treaty rights.
- Q: When is the ban effective?
A: The ban became effective the moment the OIC was passed, on May 1, 2020.
- Q: I have a firearm that is now banned. What can I do with it?
A: Unless you are a native who engages in subsistence hunting or exercises treaty rights, the answer is that you cannot use your firearm. It has become an expensive and useless paperweight. However, the OIC also provides for a two (2) year amnesty period. Hence, until April 30, 2022, you cannot be prosecuted merely because you are in possession of one such firearm. The amnesty applies to banned firearms and to AR upper receivers, which are now considered as prohibited devices.
- Q: I have a firearm that is now banned. Can I sell it?
A: As a general rule, these banned firearms cannot currently be transferred to another owner in Canada. The exceptions are few:
- A firearms business that has stock of these firearms on hand is allowed to return them to the manufacturer or manufacturer representative.
- They can be exported out of Canada, provided export rules are observed and proper authorizations are obtained, as the case may be.
- Q: Will more firearms be banned?
A: In all likelihood: yes!. The OIC mentions that the firearms that were banned on May 1, 2020 represent the most common types of so-called “Military Type Assault Rifles”. Per the OIC, there are at least 1000 samples of each type in Canada. The Government may opt to ban other types/models of firearms at a later date.
- Q: What are the applicable storage rules?
A: The applicable storage rules are those that were applicable to the now banned firearm, immediately before the ban. If the firearm was non-restricted before the ban (e.g. Robinson Armament XCR), it can still be stored as if it were a non-restricted firearm, although it is now prohibited.
- Q: Can I sell my AR-15 upper receiver?
A: No, you cannot! AR-15 upper receivers have now been classified as “prohibited devices”.
- Q: What should I do with my now prohibited firearm or AR upper receiver?
A: You have three options, for now, and two for the future, should you opt to keep them:
Option 1: Legally export the firearm/device
Option 2: Surrender the newly prohibited firearm or device to police for destruction. Hint: Don’t do this now! If you do this now, no compensation will be paid to you.
Option 3: Keep it, until legislation providing for buyback/grandfathering is enacted. At this point, you will have two options:
- Surrender the firearm / upper receiver for compensation per the then applicable confiscation/buy-back program; or
- Keep the firearm and be grandfathered for possession only. In the latter instance, there will be no financial compensation or permitted use. Your firearm will be an expensive and useless paperweight, unless there is a regime change in Ottawa, and the new Government has the courage to reverse this non-sense.
- Q: Until when do I have to make up my mind?
A: The OIC that was enacted on May 1, 2020 provides for a two (2) year amnesty period. During that time, current owners who continue to possess one of the newly prohibited firearms / devices is immune from criminal prosecution, but only for simple possession, as opposed to transportation or usage. At the end of the amnesty period (i.e. April 30, 2022), immunity will end, and buy-back, grandfathering or export will no longer be possible.
- Q: What cartridges are included in the “muzzle energy greater than 10,000 joules” category?
A: This is not spelled out in the OIC. Based upon energy tables, it appears that the following chamberings are likely included:
- 50 BMG
- 408 Chey Tac
- 416 Barrett.
There is also a possibility that 460 Weatherby Magnum is included as well, although the list featured in the OIC does not include any models by Weatherby known to be chambered for that cartridge.
- Q: What are the consequences of not complying with the OIC:
A: Transferring a now prohibited firearm/device to a third party would constitute an infraction under either s. 99 or s. 101 of the Criminal Code (Illegal Transfer). Taking it to the range would constitute an infraction under s. 93 of the Criminal Code (Possession of a firearm in a non-authorized location). Keeping it beyond the amnesty period (without having opted for grandfathering) would constitute an infraction under either s. 91 or 92 of the Criminal Code (Illegal possession). All of these infractions expose the perpetrator, if found guilty, to a criminal record, to potential jail time, and to the almost certain loss of one’s firearms licence for the future.
- Q: Is the OIC legal
A: The Government has the power to ban firearms by way of OIC. That power is derived from the Criminal Code. However, it is possible that certain aspects of this particular OIC, albeit not its totality, may be legally challengeable. That is currently under consideration by the NFA.
- Q: I have a SAN Swiss Arms or CZ-858 rifle that was prohibited, yet as an existing owner, I was grandfathered by Bill C-71. Does that change anything?
A: No, it does not because you were never grandfathered. Those provisions of Bill C-71 although duly adopted by Parliament, have never been put into effect. If they had, you would have been grandfathered, and the resulting rights could not have been taken away by a simple OIC.
- Q: I purchased an AR-15 (or other firearm on the list) prior to May 1, 2020 but the transfer has not been approved. Will it be approved?
A: Apparently, all transfers initiated prior to May 1, 2020 will be approved in due course. If you bought it from a licenced business, you may want to call and see if you can void the sale. The merchant may be able to return it to the manufacturer.
- Q: Will I be issued a registration certificate for my now banned firearm?
A: Probably not. The Government has opted (rightly or wrongly) not to grandfather any of the banned firearms. Thus, no new registration certificates will be issued. It is quite likely that existing owners whose firearms were registered as restricted firearms will receive a notice stating that their current registration certificate is revoked.
- Q: What is the NFA doing about this gun ban, and how can I help?
A: The NFA is researching legal and political options. These may involve legal actions, which will be expensive. In addition, we are continuing to engage the public and politicians through media, and lobbying. Please get involved in political activity at all levels, and support firearm friendly candidates. Contact your elected representatives.
Also, it is essential that you join the NFA and contribute to our efforts.