The Law and the Orders in Council

NFA BRIEFING DOCUMENT 17 VERSION 1

Firearms control law consists of three parts — the Firearms Act, the Criminal Code sections that affect firearms, and the Orders in Council that affect firearms.

Regarding both the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code, the solution to your need to “know the law” is simple.  Go to the law and read it.  You can be foxed by the Criminal Code, though; it has Part III, “Firearms And Other Offensive Weapons,” as sections 84 to 117.15 inclusive — but there are many other sections that are important if you want to understand firearms law.  For example, the definition of “firearm” is in section 2, far away from Part III.

The worst area is the Regulations, prescriptions and definitions that lurk in Orders in Council.  Most people don’t even know what an Order in Council is, let alone how to find out what’s in it. An Order in Council is a document having force of law that is issued by the Governor in Council.

It is just like any other law in its effects.  A violation can send you to prison for years.

An Order in Council cannot legally be “made” unless the legislation itself specifically authorizes the Governor in Council to make Orders in Council in that area of law.  The government sometimes violates that principle, and a bad Order in Council can be struck down by the courts.

Orders in Council regarding firearms are “made” under the authority of Firearms Act section [FA s.] 117(a) to (w) inclusive, or under Criminal Code section [CC s.] 117.14 or 117.15.

However, the worst problem with Orders in Council is that judges, Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers often do not know that they exist.  In a fairly recent case, an accused was supposed to have violated the law regarding storage in accordance with the Regulations (which are made by Order in Council), CC s. 86(2).

After a long and complex trial, which turned on the meaning of the word “with” in the Regulation — Was the firearm stored “with” ammunition or not? — the accused was found to be innocent.

The trial took place in 2000, and the offence took place in 1999.  The Order in Council Regulation that was being argued was replaced, on 01 Dec 1998, by a different Order in Council Regulation.  The Crown and defence lawyers never noticed that they were arguing about the language of a Regulation that was no longer in force.  The language of the new Regulation differed from the language of the obsolete Regulation, so the entire case was nonsense.  It was Regina V. Rusk, Saskatchewan Provincial Court, SJ No. 518, Information No. 24043555, and the 21-paragraph decision was issued on 02 Aug 2000.

That is not unusual.  Police, Crown prosecutors, judges and defence lawyers have no good way to keep track of the stream of Orders in Council coming from Ottawa.

The NFA thinks that you need this reference list, accurate for the period from 01 Dec 1998 to 31 Mar 2002.   The first “s.” number is the section in the initial Order in Council, and the rest are the sections in the replacement OICs that changed the older rule.


Interpretation Example:

Public Agents Firearms Regulations — SOR/98-203
Modifications: s. 2, SOR/98-468, s. 2
s. 8, SOR/99-109, s. 2; SOR/2001-9, s. 1

The original OIC, SOR/98-203, established these regulations in 1998.
Then section 2 of SOR/98-203 was changed, in 1998, by SOR/98-468’s section 2.
Then section 8 of SOR/98-203 was changed, in 1999, by SOR/99-109’s section 2; then the SOR/99-109’s section 2 version was changed again, in 2001, by SOR/2001-9’s section 1.


Regulations made under the authority of Firearms Act sections (a) to (w) inclusive:

Aboriginal Peoples Adaptations Regulations — SOR/98-205
Modifications: s. 21, SOR/98-471, s. 15

Export/Import of Firearms by Businesses Regulations — SOR/98-214
Modifications: s. 12, SOR98/469, s. 1; SOR/99-110, s. 1; SOR2001-11, s. 1

Authorization to Carry Restricted Firearms Regulations — SOR/98-207
Modifications: s. 10, SOR/98-471, s. 17

Authorizations to Transport Restricted/Prohibited Firearms — SOR/98-206
Modifications: s. 7, SOR/98-471, s. 15

Conditions of Transferring Firearms and Other Weapons — SOR/98-202
Modifications: s. 14, SOR/98-471, s. 4

Firearms Fees Regulations — SOR/98-204
Modifications: s. 5, SOR/98-471 s. 6
s. 5.1, SOR 2000-224, s. 1; SOR/2000-385, s. 1
s. 10, SOR98-471, s. 7
s. 15.1, added, SOR/2000-224, s. 2; SOR/2001-12, s. 1; SOR/2001-232, s. 1
s. 15.2, added, SOR/2001-336, s. 1
s. 21, SOR/98-471, s. 8
s. 21.1, added, SOR/2000-224, s. 3; repealed, SOR/2000-259, s. 1
s. 22, SOR/98-471, s. 9
Sch 1, SOR/98-471, s. 10 and 11
Sch 2, SOR/98-471, s. 12
Sch 3, SOR/98-471, s. 13 and 14

Firearms Licences Regulations — SOR/98-199
Modifications: s. 1.1, added, SOR/2000-225, s. 1
s. 3, SOR/2000-225, s. 2
s. 8, SOR/2000-225, s. 3
s. 11, SOR/2000-225, s. 4
s. 27, SOR/98-471, s. 1

Firearms Records Regulations — SOR/98-213
Modifications: s. 8, SOR/98-471, s. 22

Firearms Registration Certificates Regulations — SOR/98-201
Modifications: s. 12, SOR/98-471, s. 3

Gun Shows Regulations — SOR/98-211
Modifications: s. 15, SOR/98-470, s. 1; SOR/99-111, s. 1; SOR/99-453, s. 1

Import/Export of Firearms by Individuals Regulations — SOR/98-215
Modifications: s. 15, SOR/2001-10, s. 1

Non-Prohibited Ammunition Transfer Regulations — SOR/98-200
Modifications: s. 2, SOR/98-471, s. 2

Public Agents Firearms Regulations — SOR/98-203
Modifications: s. 2, SOR/98-468, s. 2
s. 8, SOR/99-109, s. 2; SOR/2001-9, s. 1
s. 9, SOR/99-109, s. 2; SOR/2001-9, s. 2
s. 10, SOR/99-109, s. 2; SOR/2001-9, s. 3
s. 18, SOR/98-468, s. 1; SOR/98-471, s. 5; SOR/99-109, s. 1; SOR/2001-9, s. 4

Shooting Clubs and Ranges Regulations — SOR/98-212
Modifications: s. 17, SOR/98-471, s. 21

Special Authority to Possess Regulations — SOR/98-208
Modifications: s. 16, SOR/98-471, s. 18

Storage/Display/Transport by Business — SOR/98-210
Modifications: s. 17, SOR/98-471, s. 20

Storage/Display/Transport by Individuals — SOR/98-209
Modifications: s. 18, SOR/98-471, s. 19

 

OICs made under the authority of Criminal Code section 117.14:

Amnesty for restricted and prohibited firearms — SOR/98-467
Modifications: s. 2, SOR/98-472, s. 6; SOR/99-452, s. 1; SOR/2001-13, s. 1; SOR/2001-233,
s. 1
s. 3, SOR/98-472, s. 7; SOR/99-452, s. 2; SOR/2001-13, s. 2; SOR/2001-233, s. 1
s. 4, SOR/98-472, s. 8; SOR/99-452, s. 2; SOR/2001-13, s. 2; SOR/2001-233, s. 1
s. 5, SOR/98-472, s. 9; SOR/99-452, s. 2; SOR/2001-13, s. 2; SOR/2001-233, s. 1
s. 6, SOR/98-472, s. 10; SOR/99-452, s. 2; SOR/2001-13, s. 2; SOR/2001-233, s. 1
s. 7, SOR/98-472, s. 11; SOR/99-229, s. 1; SOR/99-452, s. 2; SOR/2001-13, s. 2; SOR/2001-233, s.1
s.8.1, added,  SOR/2001-13, s. 2
s.9, SOR/98-472, s. 13

OICs made under the authority of the Criminal Code section 117.15

Antique firearms prescriptions:  SOR/98-472, s. 3

Certain firearms and other weapons, components and parts of weapons, accessories, cartridge magazines, ammunition and projectiles prescriptions:  SOR98-462
Modifications: s. 7, SOR/98-472, s. 1

Exclusions from certain definitions of the Criminal Code (International Sporting Competition handguns): SOR/98-465
Modifications: s. 3, SOR/98-472, s. 4
schedule, SOR/2000-130, s. 1

Public Officers prescriptions — SOR/98-466
Modifications: s. 2, SOR/98-472, s. 5

 

To be able to obey the law, you need a copy of each of these 43 Orders in Council (Ask your MP for them, and for every OIC issued under FA s. 117, CC s. 117.14 or CC s. 117.15after 31 Dec 1998, as this list is only correct to that date):

SOR/98-199, -200, -201, -202, -203, -204, -205, -206, -207, -208, -209, -210, -211, -212, -213, -214, -215, -462, -465, -466, -467, -468, -469, -470, -471 and -472.

SOR/99-109, -110, -111, 229 and 452.

SOR2000-224, -225, -259 and -385.

SOR/2001-9, -10, -11, -12, -13, -232, -233 and -386.


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