Obtaining a firearms license in Canada is not as daunting of a task as some may lead you to believe, it does however require that you have some basic firearms knowledge as well have the ability to pass a criminal record check.
Firearms Licenses in Canada are broken down into the following categories:
- Adult aged 18 or older Possession and Acquisition License (or P.A.L.)
- Adult Possession Only License (or P.O.L.)
- Minors Firearms License (under the age of 18)
Possession and Acquisition License:
Individuals aged 18 years or older can make application for a Possession and Acquisition License. In order to do so, they must first successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and if wishing to possess restricted firearms they must also show successful completion of the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course. The issued PAL will indicate the classes of firearms the holder is able to possess and acquire in writing on the back.
In order to apply for your PAL individuals over 18 years of age must complete Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC). A resource that many have used to assist them in their studies can be found at www.firearms-safety-course.com in which both of the manuals are available to read in a .pdf format as well as videos created by www.silvercore.ca instructors which guide viewers through a demonstration of operating the common firearm actions that individuals will be tested on. For a comprehensive online training and testing program where users can self study and assess their personal level of firearms knowledge a complete online course created by master instructors can obtained through www.silvercore.ca.
Upon successful completion of the CFSC/CRFSC the applicant must complete an application including a passport style photo and processing fee and submit to a criminal record check, background check and reference check. There is a mandatory 28 day waiting period that takes effect from when the Canadian Firearms Program receives and applicants request to the time of issuance. As of writing this, the typical wait time is approximately 45 days.
The fee for a PAL is $60 for non-restricted, $80 for restricted or prohibited (grandfathered or inherited prohibited firearms). If an applicant is wishing to have multiple endorsements on their license, the maximum fee is $80. Currently, the same costs apply for renewing both license classification types.
Possession Only License or P.O.L:
The Possession Only Licenses or P.O.L was created in an attempt to promote compliance with Canada’s firearms regulations. When the Canadian Firearms Center (now named the Canadian Firearms Program) first introduced it’s new licensing system in 1994 it called it’s firearms license the Firearms Acquisition License or F.A.C. Many firearms owners complained stating that they had no intention of “acquiring” any firearms as they already had the firearms they wanted. This prompted the change to the new license which clearly stipulated that it was needed to both possess and acquire.
Those who possessed firearms but did not want to take a course to obtain more simply made application to be issued with a P.O.L. These individuals were still subjected to the same screening requirements but were not required to show any knowledge or proficiency in the safe handling and firearms laws.
As of September 2, 2015, you can no longer apply for a new POL. Existing valid POLs were automatically converted to PALs with no required action by holders of valid POLs. If you have a valid POL, you will be allowed to acquire firearms for the classes of firearms you had on your POL. A PAL will be issued to you when you renew your POL. You are not required to take classroom safety training when your POL is converted to a PAL, however your POL must be valid to qualify for the POL to PAL conversion.
If an individual let their POL lapse any grandfathered firearms they may own will loose their grandfathered status (prohibited firearms) and will have to be lawfully disposed of. This, along with many other points, lead many Canadian firearms owners to decry the firearms licensing system and registration stating that it simply leads to confiscation.
Update- with Bill C42 being passed, all POL holders were upgraded to a PAL without the need of completing the mandatory firearms safety training.
The Minors Firearms License is generally reserved for youths younger than 18 but older than 12. Some exceptions have been made for those under the age of 12 but that usually requires a Chief Firearms Officer to approve based on the Childs need to hunt for sustenance.
The Minors Firearms License will allow the holder to acquire ammunition and be in possession of a non-restricted (typically rifle or shotgun) firearm. As a general rule, a minors license will not allow the holder to acquire a firearm but that is a matter up for debate as I have been informed that in certain circumstances this has been waived (for example when a minor is a competitive shooter yet the parents or guardians do not or can not obtain a firearms licenses themselves).
The minor is required to take and successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. The option to challenge the course is not available to minors as it is to adults. As a general rule, minors are not permitted to obtain a license allowing them to possess restricted or prohibited firearms (typically handguns or firearms deemed to require stricter legislation due to its size or aesthetics).
In most cases, the issuance of a minor’s license is strictly up to the Chief Firearms Officers discretion and will require a formal meeting with the minor as well as a parent or guardian.
Currently the fee for a minor’s license is $10/year to a maximum of $30 for over 2 years.
If you require assistance or clarification on anything covered in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact Canada’s oldest, largest and voted by many best firearms training school (If I can be objective) please don’t hesitate to contact Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Inc. in Vancouver BC.
Firearms Canada Inc.
Silvercore Training Inc.
*Since Bill C42, challenging the CFSC or CRFSC is no longer permitted, read more here: http://184.108.40.206/bill-c-42-common-sense-firearms-licensing-act-575976/
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