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Three Letters Re: Why Not Canada?

Dear Sir,
I just wanted to mention that Canada’s Conservative Government has recently eased gun laws quite significantly.

Whilst pistol ownership is a nightmare here, I don’t see this as too much of an issue in rural areas, especially during a SHTF [1] scenario.

When it comes to rifles however, if you have a permit to own non-restricted rifles, you have many good options. This permit is simple to obtain. Once you have it, you can buy non-restricted weapons without any kind of registration. So whilst the Government might know you have a permit, they do not know how many or what model of rifle you have. This is especially true if you go with private sales.

AR and AK style rifles are restricted, and are as much of a pain to own as pistols. However, there are many great unrestricted choices available, the Robinson Arms XCR, The CSA VZ58, the CZ 858, some KelTeC models, some JR Carbines, and of course the SKS. There are many rifles available that take AR magazines. Bolt actions [and pump actions] are no problem. You can even own Barrett .50 calibers.

If you browse the rifles available at Ellwood Epps [2] (just north of Toronto), the ones marked “NR” can be purchased with the Non-Restricted permit.

Keep in mind that in Canada all magazines are limited to 5 round capacity with a simple pin. Removing this pin is illegal. – Regards, M.A.


Mr. Rawles,
I have some points in regards to your reply to C.N.’s post discussing the viability of Canada as a retreat locale.

The primary mechanism of gun control in Canada is the licensing system, which required prospective gun owners to take a 1 day safety course and apply for a license through the Canada Firearms Centre for a Firearms “Possession and Acquisition License.”  The safety training is mostly common sense but a valuable introduction to firearms.  The licensing application, I imagine, is slightly more intrusive than the FBI background check required in the US for grandfathered individuals to apply for a “Possession Only License.” 

Especially concerning Canadian gun ownership and confiscation, one important point to note is with recent abolition of the long gun registry the Canadian government is mostly “toothless.”  The long gun registry contained records for about 7.5 million “non-restricted” guns and 730,000 restricted and prohibited guns.  The most recent legislation has effectively ordered the records for the 7.5 million non-restricted guns be destroyed, and barring a court challenge by the government of Quebec to preserve just their data and given that there is no requirement to register any additional long guns I believe it is safe to say that data is good and gone.

Interestingly enough, there is evidence to indicate that with legal manufacturing and import of firearms prior to the most recent spate of gun legislation, there are as many as 10 to 15 million guns in the country.  I suspect gun owners who were burnt in the 1990s with orders to register or surrender their firearms under then new legislation probably will greet any similar legislation in the future with an equal (or greater) degree of non-compliance.

There was some concern that prior to the abolition of the registry that the RCMP would move to reclassify many “tactical” long guns to force owners to register them.  This has since not played out, and so it is possible for license holding gun owners to procure these firearms without an official government registration by only holding valid license.  While the RCMP have pressured vendors to maintain a ledger of sales, there is no such requirement among private sales and several great online communities such as Gunownersofcanada.com [3] and Canadiangunnutz.com [4] have sprung up with vibrant market places to facilitate private sales of guns.

Among some of the top picks for those with tactical tastes are sport versions of the M14, Tavor, VZ58, Mini-14, SKS, Kel Tec SU16 for rifles, and most pump or semi-automatic shotguns.  To be fair, there are stricter regulations and registration requirements of handguns and AR-15s and complete prohibitions of others such as AK-47 variants as well all full automatic firearms, suppressors, and various items such as Slide Fire stocks.

There are other pros to Canadian gun laws.  There are many loopholes on things such as magazine capacity laws, whereby capacity is determined by the gun a magazine is originally manufactured for, not what it is used in.  So, for example, a Butler Creek 25 round magazine designed for a 10/22 rifle can be used in a Ruger Charger pistol and is not legally a prohibited device.  Also, the legal requirement for “high” capacity magazines is such only that they must be permanently pinned or lanced and as such, most magazines such as 30 round AR-15 or 33 round Glock mags are limited to their respected 5 or 10 capacity by a simple aluminum pop rivet that blocks the followers.  Undoubtedly, if the laws ever change either through an act of parliament or through a WROL [5] situation, I’m sure the idea will cross many gun owners to take a drill to their mags.

In addition, there is a very loose patchwork of restrictions on things such as barrel length and accessories for handguns that end up with looser restrictions on some items than in the US.  M4geries [6] (some manufactured in Canada and imported from China) with 14.5, 10.5, and even 8.5″ barrels are regulated no differently than any other AR-15.  Shoulder stocks and carbine kits for handguns are not controlled or prohibited devices.  Shotguns with barrels as short as 8.5″ are classified non-restricted and subject to the least amount of regulations.

As for the affordability, while generally more expensive than in the US, Canada has some advantages.  Inexpensive (and increasingly higher quality) Chinese manufactured firearms have flooded into the Canadian market, with Norinco and Dominion Arms being big names in the community, providing good quality AR-15s, 1911s, 870 knock offs at astonishingly low prices (by Canadian standards).  There also are many domestic ammunition manufactures springing up as well providing very high quality offerings at reasonable prices.

Advanced training, including tactical shooting, is also becoming more popular in Canada with several schools opening up across the country.  Action shooting sports such as IPSC, USPSA, and IDPA are also growing.  Of course, hunting is also a established tradition as well.  Unfortunately self defence with a gun is essentially forbidden almost certainly resulting in punishment by process, as Castle Doctrine is not generally recognized under Canadian law.

Undoubtedly, there are some hideously draconian Federal gun laws in Canada.  An important consideration on that though is that they are hyper-enforced or supplemented by additional provincial laws in some places and barely enforced or outright ignored in others.  Ontario and Quebec are good examples of hyper-enforcement, where gun owners have to take additional safety certification in Quebec and where municipal police in Toronto will actively harass legal, licensed gun owners and nail them to the wall for minor paper offences (such as not getting the proper permit to transport a handgun to a gunsmith).  Conversely, the laws are generally under-enforced in other regions of the country including most rural areas and generally the Western provinces and Territories.

While the gun control crowd will vehemently deny it, Canada has a very strong, established, and (by my observation) growing, gun culture.  

While there is a general trend of nanny-state federal socialism and there are some blatant examples of dictatorial tyranny in Canada by my observation of recent actions of the US government (including the Patriot Act, Obamacare, NDAA, NDRP, and EX-PATRIOT to name a few)  Canada is increasingly becoming a more attractive place to live.

God bless, – H.T.C.

You mentioned recommendng that consulting clients that they live inside Abbotsford, British Columbia. Unfortunately your information is out of date. Abbotsford is quickly becoming a crime-haven for British Columbia’s tens of thousands of marijuana growers. Gangs and gang-related shootings are becoming very common. Ethnic diversity in Abbotsford (which is the third highest in Canada after Vancouver and Toronto) seems to cause tension among the gangs. As of 2006, Abbotsford had the highest property crime rate, and the second highest violent crime rate among cities with a population between 100,000 and 500,000. And the scariest statistic: Abbotsford has the highest homicide rate in Canada. It was almost three times the national average in 2010. (All statistics taken from Statistics Canada, via Wikipedia)
Sincerely – Ryan in British Columbia