Can a Firearms Licence be Refused or Revoked in Canada?

Firearms licence regulations are regulated under Firearms Act (Criminal Law Amendment Act) in Canada. All licensing and registration are managed by the RCMP’s Canadian Firearms Program (CFP).

The licence can be refused or revoked if you are found to be unfit to hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence in Canada. To overturn this decision, you need to convince the court that your licence should be granted or reinstated.

Can a firearms licence be refused?

Yes, a firearms licence can be refused.

To get a firearms licence in Canada, you must apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) via the RCMP.

Application for PAL in three steps:

  1. Take a firearm safety course
  2. Pass the written and practical exam for the safety course
  3. Submit all necessary documentation with the application form, including a copy of the exam test results

Registration certificate and authorization details are listed on Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Find out more about How to legally own firearms in Canada on our blog 

The RCMP will perform background checks on you, which may involve contacting your current or previous conjugal partners. The police want to know if there is any reason why you should not be given a PAL. Your application will be refused if there is any indication that you would pose a risk to yourself or to the public.

More specifically, a firearms licence might be refused in Canada if:

  • You have a history of violent behaviour
  • You have a history of mental illness that is associated with violence or threatened/attempted violence (be it against yourself or another person)
  • You have committed a criminal offence involving violence, harassment, firearms offences or drug offences
  • There is another reason that gives the police reason to believe your possession of a firearm could pose a risk to you or to public safety

A firearms licence will also be refused if you have not successfully completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. You must also complete the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course if you want to own a restricted firearm or a prohibited firearm.

Can a firearms licence be refused when I go to renew it?

Yes, an authority can refuse to issue a firearms licence, even if you have previously held a licence and wish to renew it.

A PAL usually lasts for five years. It must be renewed before the expiry date. Your renewal application may be refused if there has been a change in your circumstances, or the RCMP uncovers information that was previously unknown. For example, if a former partner claims that you were violent towards them.

Can a firearms licence be revoked?

Yes, the authorities can revoke a licence.

Just because you are given a PAL, does not necessarily mean that it is safe from revocation. The licence can be taken away if you commit a violent crime, you commit a firearms offence (such as the careless storage of firearms), or a mental illness puts you or others at risk of harm.

More specifically, a firearms licence might be revoked in Canada if:

  • You commit a violent criminal offence
  • You commit a firearms offence
  • You are accused of domestic violence
  • You become mentally ill, and this illness is associated with violence or threatened/attempted violence (be it against yourself or another person)
  • There is another reason that gives the police reason to believe your possession of a firearm could pose a risk to you or to public safety

Can you fight the refusal or revocation of a firearms licence?

If your firearms licence has been refused or revoked, there is an action you can take.

However, you have to act quickly. You have just 30 days to refer your case to the Provincial Court of British Columbia (assuming you are in the province of B.C.)

A date will be set for a court hearing, which in this context is known as a Reference. A judge will consider your case and make a decision as to whether your PAL should be granted or reinstated, or whether it should be refused or revoked.

The important thing to note about Reference hearings is that the burden is on you to prove that you are fit to possess a firearms licence. If you fail to present a convincing case, the judge’s decision will go against you.

If you disagree with the Reference decision, you can pursue an appeal.

Fighting a Prohibition Order

If the police or Crown think you are unfit to possess a firearm, they may go one step further and seek a Prohibition Order. This is an order from the court which prevents you from using and owning a firearm, crossbow, ammunition and other devices. If you already own any of these items, you will be asked to surrender them.

Prohibition Orders are often sought when someone has been accused or convicted of a criminal offence. Even if you are acquitted or your case is dismissed, the Prohibition Order can still stand.

You can defend your right to retain your firearms in court. This is known as a firearms hearing. Like a Reference hearing, a judge will hear your case and determine whether a Prohibition Order should be granted. However, in this situation, the burden is on the Crown to prove that a Prohibition Order is needed in the interests of safety.

Get an experienced lawyer

If your firearms licence has been refused or revoked, or you face a Prohibition Order, we can help you. Our experienced lawyers can present your case to the court, working to get a successful outcome on your behalf.

Call a Vancouver criminal lawyer now – 604.688.8588 (24 Hours)

Recommended Posts