Legislation to reduce gun violence receives Royal Assent

News release

December 15, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario

Today, Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), received Royal Assent, immediately bringing into force a series of measures to combat gun crime, including the national handgun freeze, new “red flag” laws (also known as emergency weapons prohibition orders), and increased penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking.

Since 2009, handguns have been the most used weapon in firearm-related violent crimes in Canada. With the passing of this legislation, the national freeze on the sale, purchase, and transfer of handguns has been codified in legislation (Firearms Act), restricting the transfer and importation of handguns into Canada. The handgun freeze came into effect by regulations made on October 21, 2022.

To address risks to victims, including of gender-based and intimate partner violence where a firearm is present, new “red flag” laws are also now in force. This will allow any individual to apply to the court for an emergency weapons prohibition order against a person who possesses firearms and poses a danger to themselves or others.

Other significant changes to address the criminal use of firearms have immediately come into force, including increased maximum penalties for weapons smuggling and trafficking offences from 10 to 14 years.

Other measures will come into force 30 days following Royal Assent, including the enactment of new offences related to the possession and distribution of computer data for use in illegal firearms manufacturing, for example by 3D printing “ghost guns”, and the classification of illegally made firearms as prohibited.

Some measures in this legislation, including the new “yellow flag” licence suspension regime and enhanced licence revocation provisions, will come into force at a later date through an Order in Council. This will allow the necessary engagement and preparation to take place.

This legislation’s measures align with the recommendations put forward in the Final Report of the Mass Casualty Commission, released on March 30th, 2023. It includes eliminating firearms access for those who are involved in intimate partner violence, stalking, or who are subject to a protection order.

These measures are part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to keep communities in Canada safe from gun crime. It includes secure borders, where we have added resources to fight smuggling and stop guns from coming into Canada; a robust legal framework; the national handgun freeze; and strong prevention strategies, notably the Building Safer Communities Fund, which aims to stop gun crime before it starts.


“With Bill C-21 becoming law, Canada has taken a major step in strengthening gun control and combatting gun violence. I want to thank those who have championed and advocated for these measures, and who worked so hard to see this legislation adopted. Your input and your support have been invaluable and have contributed to building safer communities from coast to coast to coast.”

- The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

“The safety and security of everyone in Canada is our Government’s top priority, and it requires strong action to protect individuals from gun violence. These changes to the law, taken together with the recent reforms to the bail system to address repeat violent offenders, will help keep people safer. We will continue to crack down on firearms smuggling and trafficking, target violent crimes involving handguns and address the alarming role of guns in gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence.”

- The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2021, the Government announced an investment of $312 million over five years to increase law enforcement capacity to combat firearms smuggling and trafficking.

  • From 2021 to 2022, the Canada Border Services Agency seized more than 1,200 firearms, the largest number of seizures recorded in a single year.

  • There were 803 victims of firearm-related intimate partner violence in 2021, accounting for 10% of all victims of firearm-related violent crime. More than four in five (84%) victims of firearm-related intimate partner violence were women and girls.

  • Among homicide incidents, a total of 19 firearms were reported to police as stolen in 2022, excluding firearms that were previously reported as stolen and recovered as part of homicide incidents.

  • In 2021, handguns were used in 51% of violent crime involving firearms; airguns and other firearm-like weapons were used in 23% of firearms-related violent crime.

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Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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