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Canada — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Canada is 9,950,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Canada is 23.82 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In Canada, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 3,500,0003

Number of Privately Owned Shotguns

In Canada, the number of shotguns in civilian possession is reported to be 2,600,0003

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

There are reportedly 1,100,0003 handguns in civilian possession in Canada

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Canada ranked at No. 124

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Canada ranked at No. 131

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Canada is reported to be 1,830,5425

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Canada is 5.426

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in Canada is reported to be 7,514,3857

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in Canada is 22.266

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Canada are reported to have 233,9498 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Canada are reported to have 124,2709 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Canada, annual homicides by any means total

2011: 52910
2010: 492
2009: 54010 11
2008: 61112 10 11
2007: 59412 10 11 13
2006: 60612 10 11
2005: 663
2004: 624
2003: 549
2002: 582
2001: 553
2000: 546
1999: 53812 10
1998: 558
1997: 586
1996: 635
1995: 588
1994: 596
1993: 627
1992: 732
1991: 754
1990: 660
1989: 657
1988: 576
1987: 644

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2011: 1.510
2010: 1.4
2009: 1.610 11
2008: 1.8314 10 11
2007: 1.8014 10 11 13
2006: 1.8614 10 11
2005: 2.06
2004: 1.95
2003: 1.74
2002: 1.86
2001: 1.78
2000: 1.78
1999: 1.7714 10
1998: 1.85
1997: 1.96
1996: 2.14
1995: 2.01
1994: 2.06
1993: 2.19
1992: 2.58
1991: 2.69
1990: 2.38
1989: 2.41
1988: 2.15
1987: 2.43

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Canada, annual firearm homicides total

2009: 17310
2008: 20015 10
2007: 18815 10 13
2006: 19015 10
2005: 223
2004: 173
2003: 161
2002: 152
2001: 171
2000: 184
1999: 165
1998: 151
1997: 18610
1996: 207
1995: 168

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2009: 0.510 11
2008: 0.6
2007: 0.610 11 13
2006: 0.610 11
2005: 0.7
2004: 0.5
2003: 0.510
2002: 0.5
2001: 0.5
2000: 0.596
1999: 0.510
1998: 0.5
1997: 0.6
1996: 0.7
1995: 0.6
1992: 0.7616

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Canada, annual suicides by any means total

2007: 3,61117
2006: 3,51218
2005: 3,743
2004: 3,613
2003: 3,765
2002: 3,650
2001: 3,69217
2000: 3,606
1999: 4,07419

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2007: 11.0017
2006: 10.80
2005: 11.60
2004: 11.30
2003: 11.90
2002: 11.60
2001: 11.90
2000: 11.70
1999: 12.9319
1992: 13.1920

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Canada, annual firearm suicides total

2006: 58621
2005: 593
2004: 568
2003: 618
2002: 633
2001: 651
2000: 685

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2006: 1.796
2001: 2.0719
1992: 3.7222

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Canada, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 2001: 2819

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2001: 0.0819
1992: 0.2223

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Canada, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2006: 521
2005: 6
2004: 3
2003: 7
2002: 11
2001: 10
2000: 9

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

ChartIn Canada, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2006: 0.016
1992: 0.0724

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Canada, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence25 26

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, Canada is ranked 'small'27

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Canada, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law28 29 30

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Canada is reported by Customs to be US$91,375,68531 (2011)32 33

Small Arms Exports - World Ranking

In a comparison of the world's major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters, Canada is categorized as 'mid-level'34 33

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Canada, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law28 29 30 35

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Canada is reported by Customs to be US$274,795,49331 (2011)36

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Canada is moderate37 38

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Canada, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are not specifically regulated by law39 40 41 42

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Canada include29 43 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

Transparency of Small Arms Transfers

In the most recent survey of state transparency in declaring firearm and ammunition exports among major small arms exporting nations, Canada was ranked at No. 2344

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Canada is categorised as restrictive45

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Canada includes the Firearms Act, Criminal Code, Export and Import Permits Act, United Nations Act and the Defence Production Act46 47

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Canada are regulated by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Justice,47 Chief Firearms Officers26 48 and the Firearms Registrar30

Right to Possess Firearms

In Canada, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law48

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Canada, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms except those registered before 1978,49 handguns with a barrel of 105mm or less in length, and specifically modified handguns, rifles or shotguns50

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Canada, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited, except those registered before 197849 50

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Canada, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under a licence51 50

Regulation of Handguns

In Canada, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted, with an authorization to carry49 50 52 53

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Canada, only licensed gun owners48 46 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Canada are not required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm except when the licence concerns prohibited49 and restricted54 52 firearms

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Canada is 18 years or 12 years, with limitations55 56

Gun Licence Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Canada must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental, addiction and domestic violence48 57 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Canada, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are required57 58

Partner to be Advised or Interviewed

In Canada, licensing authorities are required57 58 to conduct interviews with, or to advise an applicant's spouse, partner, or next of kin before issuing a gun licence

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Canada stipulates48 59 60 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Canada, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required51 61 62 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Canada gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every 5 years63 64

Licensing Records

In Canada, authorities maintain a record30 62 65 66 of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Canada are permitted to possess any number of firearms39 40 41 42

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Canada are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition39 40 41 42

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Canada, the law requires30 62 65 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Canada, licensed firearm dealers are not required67 30 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Canada, licensed gun makers are required30 68 69 66 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Canada, State agencies are required62 65 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Background Checks for Private Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm in a private sale in Canada is obliged67 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Background Checks on Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Canada is obliged67 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Canada, the private sale and transfer of firearms is permitted67

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Canada, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful26

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Canada, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is 28 days on first application for a licence, but none for subsequent acquisitions70 67

Regulation of Gun Shows

In Canada, gun shows and temporary firearm dealing events are regulated71 in law

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Canada include72 73 74 75 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Canada include76 77 78 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Canada include72 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Canada include79 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Canada, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law68 80 81 69

Firearm Tracing

In Canada, state authorities carry out82 68 69 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Marking of Firearms and Ammunition

In Canada, state authorities employ69 ballistic fingerprinting technology to trace guns and ammunition

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Canada, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit83 52 53 54

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Canada, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit83 52 53 54

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Canada, the maximum penalty for illicit firearm possession is 5 to 10 years prison84

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Canada are not known to have implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Canada, it is state policy85 86 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Canada adopted the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Explosives, Ammunition and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), a legally binding multilateral treaty of which the OAS is depository. The CIFTA Convention has since been signed, but not yet ratified87 88 by Canada

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

At the resumption of the most recent session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (UNCCPCJ), a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council mandated to promote action to prevent national and transnational crime, Canada was listed as an elected member for a three-year term of office89

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 200690 by Canada.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has not been signed91 by Canada

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed, but not yet ratified92 by Canada

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Canada committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects93

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Canada has submitted one or more national reports94 95 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Canada, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated96 95

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Canada, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated96

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Canada submitted to the UN, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities is apparent96 95

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been donated95 by Canada to other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Canada has declared97 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Canada has been a Member State of the United Nations since 194598

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies lists99 Canada as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

For a profile of conflict in Canada, select the Link icon to open an external web page from the UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia at Uppsala University

Global Peace Index

To see where Canada ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


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