Japanese Handguns and Canadian Gun Laws

            To buy any gun in Canada you need a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). To get one you need to pay a stiff fee, undergo a criminal check and pass a gun handling course, among other things. Once you have done everything, which usually takes several months, they still make you wait another 30 days. If you want to buy a handgun they usually require that you show you have a current membership in a shooting club with a range approved for handguns. If you say you are buying it for collection purposes you have to fill out some forms showing our knowledge and willingness to undergo inspections, etc. and be approved as a collector by the Chief Provincial Firearms Officer (not automatic). When you buy a handgun you phone in the information and then a week, a month or sometimes more later they mail you a registration certificate and you can apply for a permit to pick it up or have it delivered. If you follow up by phone you may be able to get the permit before the registration certificate arrives in the mail. This system is why I often speak of guns I have bought but don’t yet have in my possession. No instant gratification here.

            An additional complication is our ban on handguns with barrels under 105mm (4.14”). Those who owned such handguns when the ban came in can keep them and buy and sell amongst themselves, but no new owners are allowed and no new “short-barreled” handguns are allowed into the country. This ban affects the Baby Nambu and Type 94, Hamada, etc. The same ban also covers anything in .25 or .32 calibres, which also cuts out some of the more obscure and/or foreign guns used by the Japanese. Fortunately I am grandfathered and can acquire these guns IF they are already in Canada. There is not a lot of Japanese stuff up here, though. Most of our vets served in Europe, not the Pacific, so there were almost no bring-backs, and only a trickle of the ones in the USA ever made their way northwards.

            Handguns with barrels over 105mm can be imported into Canada; I have imported several. The process takes about three months and costs about $300 per gun. Actually the biggest problem, cost and delay in this process is on the US side, getting an export permit. It also seems you have to actually drive down to the border for pick up, since neither the mail nor couriers will take handguns across the border for private individuals.

            For Canadians who want to figure out the rules or non-Canadians with a morbid curiosity about our system, here’s a link to the Canadian government’s official website on firearms laws and regulations: Canada Firearms Program

            On May 17, 2006, the new Conservative government declared an amnesty so that owners of unregistered long guns (most rifles and shotguns) will not face prosecution. However, the registry continues to exist until they introduce and pass legislation to do away with long gun registration (it appears registration of handguns and some other specialty firearms will continue). The passage of such legislation cannot be taken for granted, since the Conservatives are in a weak minority position in the House of Commons. The amnesty expires May 17, 2006, so if the legislation doesn’t pass by then, the requirement for registration will come back into force unless the amnesty is extended. For more details on this and other recent changes, please see the Canada Firearms Centre link above.


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Last Updated: May 31, 2006.