Canada’s firearms rights organizations are united in their call for Blair’s removal from Public Safety

The organizations representing law abiding Canadian firearms owners and firearms businesses have issued united press releases demanding the immediate removal of Liberal MP Bill Blair from his current role as Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness. 

You can read the statements here:






September-October 2019

Election Time – The next election is always the most important one. The 2019 Canadian federal election is certainly a critical one for firearm owners. We have already seen the designs of the Liberal, NDP and Greens in their nearunanimous calls for more gun control. While the other option can fairly be accused of short-term thinking on firearms law matters, clearly any electoral prospect which increases the likelihood of the current government and its fellow travellers remaining in power is unacceptable.

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The Canadian Government has made it clear that it intends to ban so-called “military style assault rifles” (“MSAR”).  Since there is currently no legal definition of that expression in Canadian law, it is impossible to predict with certainty what exactly will be banned.  However, we can most certainly expect that certain firearms, such as the AR-15, will be on the list of banned rifles.

The process that will be followed is also uncertain, although clues have been given out in declarations by Minister Bill Blair, and in the recent mandate letter given to Mr. Blair.

Here is what we know:

1. A list of guns to be banned is being made up and will be made public soon;

2. The Government expects to implement a mandatory buy-back program; and

3. There will be a two-year amnesty period.

Since a buy-back program and related amnesty are announced, it is not expected (albeit, not impossible) that there will be immediate confiscations.

How a MSAR Ban will likely unfold

Again, there is no certainty as to this scenario, but it appears as the most plausible, given the existing legal context.

1. First, the Government will make a list of specific firearms to be banned and will likely include the list in regulations to be enacted by way of Order in Council (“OIC”). We expect those regulations to include temporary grandfathering provisions, pursuant to either paragraphs 12(8) or 12(9) of the Firearms Act. This situation will prevail until buy-back time, which is part of Stage 2, as described below.

A few remarks about the foregoing:

A.Whether or not there will be temporary grandfathering is a key consideration. Indeed, if there is no grandfathering, even temporary, affected gun owners will be required to turn over their firearms to police or face prosecution. The manner to address this potential situation is discussed below.

B. Assuming temporary grandfathering of existing owners, the affected owners will continue to possess their MSAR, although use will likely be limited to approved ranges, in a best-case scenario.

i. If the newly prohibited MSAR was formerly in the “restricted” class, the existing registration certificate will be revoked and a new one will be issued, referring to the new classification. Owners will also receive a new licence card (PAL) referring to Class 12(9).

ii. If the newly prohibited firearm was formerly classified as “non-restricted”, existing owners will likely be required to register their firearm as prohibited, to qualify for grandfathering  and/or buy-back. There will be a deadline attached.

2. Second, the Government will introduce new legislation in the House of Commons to implement its buy-back scheme. This step will likely happen almost simultaneously with the enactment of the Regulations referred to above. This entails amending existing legislation (Criminal Code, Firearms Act and Regulations) to end all licence rights (i.e. 12(8) or 12(9) grandfathering) and revoke all registration certificates attached to MSARs.   Once the legislation comes into effect, there will be a two-year amnesty period.  During the amnesty period, owners will be immune from prosecution for mere possession of MSARs.  It remains to be seen whether usage (at shooting ranges) will be permitted during the amnesty period. The Government may elect to disallow usage, in order to entice owners to hand over their MSARs.

If the New-Zealand experience is any indication, the amnesty period will coincide with the buy-back period.  The Government will enact Regulations providing for buy-back prices or a formula to determine pricing.  There may or may not be a mechanism to dispute the amount offered as compensation.  Of course, “buy-back” is a euphemism for “confiscation with compensation”, since the seller will not be at liberty to sell.

3. Third, upon the end of the amnesty/buy-back period, owners who shall remain in possession after the end of the amnesty period will be subject to criminal prosecution.

What to do if there is no temporary grandfathering

Again, although we expect temporary grandfathering of existing owners, the Government may attempt a speedier confiscation process in respect of specific MSARs.

In that event:

1. Affected owners whose MSAR is currently registered as “restricted” will likely receive a notice in the mail, revoking their existing registration certificate, but no new registration certificate. The notice will instruct them to turn over their MSAR to police or to a party legally authorized to possess prohibited firearms of that class, likely within thirty (30) days.

Affected owners who wish to contest the confiscation of their MSAR must do so within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the notice revoking their registration certificate.  Such contestation is done by way of a “Reference” under s. 74 of the Firearms Act.  The appropriate forum to file is the provincial court of the locality where the owner resides.  The Registrar of Firearms (RCMP) must be designated as a Respondent.  You do not need a lawyer to file a Reference, although it is recommended that you hire one.  The NFA will assist in the process by publishing templates of documents that may be used to file a Reference.  Once the Reference is filed, it may be incumbent upon you to serve it upon the Registrar of Firearms. It is too early to fully articulate the legal grounds under which such a Notice of revocation could be legally challenged.  However, recent amendments to the Firearms Act, more specifically the addition of paragraph 12(9) suggests that whenever firearms are to be prohibited by way of Regulations, their respective owners must be grandfathered.  Hence, if existing owners were not to be grandfathered further to the enactment of Regulations, a contestation may likely be filed on that basis.

2. Affected owners whose MSAR is currently considered as “non-restricted” may not receive any notice of the change of status of their firearm, simply because non-restricted firearms are not registered. However, we would like to remind you that Quebec has created its own registry of non-restricted firearms, and that the data of the old federal long gun registry still exists and is available to the Government.

What if police show up?

Should police show up at your doorstep and ask that you surrender your MSAR, here is what to do:

1. Before you let them in, ask the police if they have a warrant.

A. If the answer is “no”, tell them politely to come back when they have a warrant. Never let them in voluntarily if they do not have a warrant. If they force their way in, do not resist, and call a lawyer.

B.If the answer to the warrant question is “yes”, ask to see the warrant.

2. Assuming that a satisfactory warrant is shown by police, let them in. Do not let them go anywhere that is not covered by the warrant (e.g. other address or location). Do not obstruct the work of the police. Open any containers or rooms that you are asked to open.

3. Take pictures of everything and make a list of all seized items.

4. You do not legally have to answer any questions from police, other than identifying yourself.

5. Do not volunteer any information that is not asked for.

6. Call a lawyer as soon as you can, preferably before the search starts.


This is a fluid situation.  We also made certain assumptions that may ultimately prove to be incorrect.  As more becomes known about the upcoming MSAR ban, we will update this page.  Please check it regularly.

We may, in due course, consider engaging in litigation to challenge the validity of the legislation purporting to implement a MSAR ban (Regulations or Statute) or certain aspects thereof, should we determine that there are valid grounds to do so.


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How the upcoming Liberal ban of so-called “assault rifles” will likely unfold:

1. As a first step, it is most likely that draft Regulations will be filed before the House of Commons and Senate, purporting to list all specific models of firearms to be banned. It is “most likely” because Regulations enacted pursuant to the Criminal Code do not need to be filed before Parliament, whereas those enacted pursuant to the Firearms Act do need to be filed before both houses of Parliament. In this instance, these Regulations would be a hybrid if they entail any grandfathering (pursuant to the Firearms Act), as per Paragraph 2 below.

In effect, these Regulations will reclassify a certain number of firearms from their current category (either restricted or non-restricted) to prohibited status.  This is allowed pursuant to s. 84(1) and 117.15 (1) of the Criminal Code.

After review in Committee, the Regulations will be returned to the Governor in council and will become law by way of Order in Council (“OIC”).

Once the OIC is passed, the “tap will, be closed”.  No new so-called “assault rifles” can be manufactured or imported (except of course, to fulfill the needs of police, the armed forces and other government agencies).  Only those with grandfathered rights will be allowed to buy them.

What will be on the list is anyone’s guess.  It is worth mentioning that in New Zealand, the list of banned rifles included rifles such as the Browning BAR. It is not impossible that the Canadian government may follow suit.

2. In all likelyhood, the Regulations referred to in Paragraph 1 will also feature either one or both of the following:

a) The Regulations will provide for the grandfathering (albeit temporary) of individuals who own such firearms as of a “prescribed date»”, provided they are already registered, and/or the individuals register them by a “prescribed date” (i.e. deadline). Grandfathering is allowed pursuant to s. 12(9) of the Firearms Act, which was added by Bill C-71; and/or
b) The Regulations will provide for an amnesty period, during which any person who possesses such a firearm cannot be prosecuted, provided the firearm was legally acquired;

At least one of these features is essential to avoid turning all current owners of such firearms into overnight criminals, thus requiring that all such firearms be turned over to police overnight.  The Liberals will likely justify the grandfathering/amnesty by arguing that since a large number of such firearms are no longer registered (which they will blame on the CPC), some unscrupulous owners might be tempted to sell on the “black market”.  The registration requirement (for grandfathering) will also let them know who has what.

3.New legislation will be filed before the House of Commons. The proposed legislation will likely:

a) Create a mandatory buy-back scheme, and potentially allocate credits to the scheme;
b) Extend the amnesty period to the end of the buy-back period;
c) Extinguish licence rights (i.e. s. 12(9)) as of the end of the prescribed buy-back period. Hence, any individuals who will not comply will become criminals as of the end date of the buy-back period.

4. Passing of such legislation will follow the usual path through the HOC and the Senate. Its coming into force will likely require further OICs.  As a matter of fact, Minister Blair recently declared that we are likely two years away from implementation of a buy back scheme.