Royal Assent of legislation; strengthening gun laws to keep communities safe 

News release

June 21, 2019
Ottawa, Ontario
Public Safety Canada

The Government of Canada is taking action to keep our communities safe with common sense gun laws.

Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Ralph Goodale and the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, the Honourable Bill Blair, announced that Bill C-71, An Act to Amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms received Royal Assent.

The new legislation provides practical, targeted and measured steps to help keep Canadians safe:

  • Help ensure people with a history of violence are not granted a license to own firearms through expanded background checks that consider the applicant’s lifetime history, not just the preceding five years;    
  • Help keep firearms out of the wrong hands by requiring sellers to verify the validity of a firearms licence before selling a non-restricted firearm;
  • Help police tracing guns used in crimes by requiring businesses to keep point-of-sale records for non-restricted firearms;
  • Require authorization to transport restricted and prohibited firearms to locations other than the range (e.g. gunsmith, gun show, etc.) through strengthened transportation requirements; and,
  • Safeguard the impartial classification of firearms by putting the responsibility in the hands of technical experts, who make these determinations based on the Criminal Code.

This legislation complements the Government of Canada’s investments of $214 million over five years for community-level prevention and enforcement efforts, and $86 million over five years for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency to enhance firearms investigations and combat gun smuggling across the border. 


“These common-sense gun laws prioritize public safety and effective police work while being fair to legitimate, law-abiding firearms owners and businesses. Together with major new investments in enforcement and prevention, our government is taking comprehensive action to combat rising gun violence and keep Canadians safe.”

- The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Although Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, we cannot ignore the increase in gun violence. Canadians have expressed legitimate concern about the increase in gun violence in their communities. This legislation is a measured and appropriate response to help keep communities safe.”

- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction 

Quick facts

  • There are three categories of firearms in Canada:

    • Restricted: handguns, certain rifles and semi-automatics;
    • Prohibited: certain handguns, fully automatic rifles, and sawed off rifles; and
    • Non-restricted: standard hunting rifles and shotguns.
  • The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program determines the technical classification of a firearm, according to criteria in the Criminal Code

  • While some technical amendments came into force immediately, others including licence verification, business record keeping, transportation provisions and grandfathering for CZ/SA owners will come into force by Order-in-Council at a later date.

  • Gun homicides have nearly doubled (98.5%) from 134 in 2013 to 266 in 2017. 

  • More than half (55%) of firearm-related homicides in 2017 were committed using handguns. Rifles or shotguns were used in 23%. Other types, such as fully automatic firearms, sawed off rifles or shotguns, were used in 9%. Unknown types were used in the remaining 13%.

  • In 2017 firearm homicides, handguns were the most common weapon used in urban areas (63%), rifles or shotguns were most commonly used in rural areas (66%). Conversely, rifles or shotguns accounted for only 13% in urban areas, while handguns represented about 18% in rural areas. 

  • Canada’s firearm-related homicide rate was 16% higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. This difference was the greatest in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. 

  • Violent offences specific to firearms have increased by 45% since 2013, rising from 1,892 incidents in 2013 to 2,734 incidents in 2017.

  • Since 2013, break and enter crimes for the purposes of stealing firearms (including from a motor vehicle) have increased by 28%, from 918 incidents in 2013 to 1,175 incidents in 2017.

  • In 2017, there were 580 victims of police-reported intimate partner violence where a firearm was present, up from 401 in 2013.

  • There are more than 500 gun-related suicides each year.

  • There are 2.1 million firearm licence holders in Canada.

  • Transportation requirements for non-restricted firearms are not affected by Bill C-71. 

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Scott Bardsley
Manager of Media and Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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