Can you own a gun in Canada, in 2023?  The answer is yes, individuals can own guns in Canada, but there are certain regulations and requirements that need to be followed.

  • To legally own a firearm in Canada, you must take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and pass a test.
  • After that, you need to apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
  • Once granted, you can purchase a firearm, although you must ensure that it is stored properly.

Two things to remember:

  1. Different types of firearms have varying regulations, and there are restrictions on where and how guns can be used.
  2. It should be noted that the rules are slightly different in Quebec and are not discussed here.


Canada’s firearms market is popular: 2.2 million adults and 4,500 businesses have a firearms permit. Firearms owners need to comply with the restriction of the laws.

Owning a firearm in Canada – your questions answered

There are some steps you need to take if you want to own a firearm in Canada. The process is relatively straightforward, but it is important to complete every stage, or you will be in breach of the law.

Canadian law categorized firearms under three different categories:

  1. non-restricted,
  2. restricted and
  3. prohibited.

Owners require a licence, obtained through a process that includes background checks and safety training.

What do I need to legally own a firearm in Canada?

There are three main steps to legally owning a non-restricted firearm in Canada:

  1. Take a Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC)
  2. Pass the CFSC test
  3. Apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

The course usually takes place over a day and the test typically takes place at the end of it. So long as you pass the test, you can apply for a PAL via the RCMP.

You have to provide references, and information about your current and previous conjugal partners, and pay a fee. The RCMP will carry out various background checks and may contact your former partners to confirm whether you have a history of violence.

If there is any reason why the RCMP feel you should not own a firearm, then authorization may be refused. Otherwise, the licence will be issued. There is a minimum 28-day waiting period, so you can expect this stage of the process to take at least four weeks.

Once your PAL has been issued, you can purchase a firearm. You can only own the type of firearm that is listed on your licence.

There are three categories of firearms: a non-restricted firearm, a restricted firearm and a prohibited firearm.

How can I obtain a licence for restricted and prohibited firearms?

If you want to own a restricted firearm or a prohibited firearm, then you need to:

  1. Take a Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) AND a Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course
  2. Pass the CFSC test AND the CRFSC test
  3. Apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) and indicate that you want to own a restricted or prohibited firearm
  4. Register your firearm and have it “verified” by RCMP-approved experts

You can only use a restricted firearm for certain lawful purposes, including target practice and target shooting competitions.

Do I have to renew my firearms licence?

A Possession and Acquisition Licence usually lasts for five years and must be renewed before the expiry date. If it lapses, you are no longer allowed to own or purchase firearms.

Can minors own firearms in Canada?

People under the age of 18 cannot legally own a firearm. However, minors between the ages of 12 and 17 can get a licence that allows them to borrow a non-restricted firearm for specific purposes. For example, for hunting, target shooting and competitions.

Can a licence be refused or revoked?

Yes, a firearms licence can be refused or revoked in Canada.

Reasons causing your Possession and Acquisition Licence application might be refused:

  • 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 drugs offences
  • Any other reason that gives the police reason to believe your possession of a firearm could pose a risk to you or to public safety

Your firearms licence could be revoked 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)
  • Any other reason that gives the police reason to believe your possession of a firearm could pose a risk to you or to public safety

Can a licence be revoked for careless storage?

A firearms licence can be revoked if you commit a firearms offence, including careless or improper storage.

My firearms licence has been refused/revoked – what are my options?

If your firearms licence has been refused or revoked and you want to challenge the decision, you have 30 days to refer the matter to the provincial court. There will follow a court hearing, which is known as a Reference. You must convince the judge that the refusal was not justified. The judge will either uphold the refusal/revocation or will overturn the decision and grant/restore your licence.

Can I appeal a Reference decision?

If the provincial court judge ruled that the refusal or revocation should be upheld, you can take the matter to appeal. A superior court will review the decision made by the provincial court.

What is a weapons prohibition order?

The police or the Crown may also seek a weapons prohibition order against you. This is an order issued by the court which prevents you from using and owning a firearm, crossbow, ammunition and other devices.

Often such orders are seen following a criminal conviction, although that is not exclusively the case. They can be issued even if you are found not guilty, or in situations where you have not committed a criminal offence. In this scenario, the burden is on the prosecution to establish that the safety of you or another person is at risk, should you be allowed to own/use a weapon.

Where to buy firearms and attend the PAL course in Vancouver?

You can try DVC Ventures: BC’s Only Indoor Gun Range and check their service at that link:

Should I get a firearms offence lawyer?

If you have been accused of committing a firearms offence, or you face a weapons prohibition order, we recommend that you instruct a legal representative.

One of the most common firearms offences in Canada is Careless Storage.

Read more about the Careless Storage charge in the article The Careless or Improper Storage of Firearms in Canada and see our practice service details here.

Other weapons offences we can help you with are listed here.

At Mickelson & Whysall Law Corporation, our lawyers are experts in Canadian firearms law and can help you with licensing and charges.

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