person holding gun

Weapons Offences & Defence in Canada

Gun ownership is strictly controlled in Canada. The possession and trafficking of firearms can result in severe penalties including fines and prison time. From carrying weapons while attending public meetings to weapons trafficking, there is a wide range of weapons offences, and penalties can vary dramatically. 

Having an experienced lawyer is important if you need to navigate through the judicial system including understanding your constitutional and Charter rights. A weapon and a firearm are defined as follows.

What is the definition of a weapon?

Weapons are typically thought of as guns or firearms, knives, and baseball bats. A weapon, however, can also be an everyday object, such as a bottle, or even a stick, if it is used or intended to be used in a threatening manner.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines a weapon as “anything used, designed to be used or intended for use a) in causing death or injury to any person, or b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person, and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm and, for the purposes of sections 88, 267 and 272, anything used, designed to be used or intended for use in binding or tying up a person against their will.”

What is a Firearm?

A firearm is defined as follows in Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada:

A barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, and includes any frame or receiver of such a barrelled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm.

An air pistol may be found to be a firearm if the air pistol is able to fire a projectile at a high feet per second velocity, provided that the projectile is capable of causing serious bodily injury to or death of a person.

The following lists some of the various weapons related offences as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada:

Careless Use Of A Firearm:

86 (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.

Unauthorized Possession Of A Firearm:

(3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) [unauthorized possession of firearm – offence] or (2) [unauthorized possession of prohibited weapon or restricted weapon – offence]

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Possession Of A Prohibited Or Restricted Firearm:

95 (1) Subject to subsection (3) [possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammo – exception], every person commits an offence who, in any place, possesses a loaded prohibited firearm or restricted firearm, or an unloaded prohibited firearm or restricted firearm together with readily accessible ammunition that is capable of being discharged in the firearm, without being the holder of

(a) an authorization or a licence under which the person may possess the firearm in that place; and

(b) the registration certificate for the firearm.

Possession Of A Firearm With A Serial Number Defaced:

96 (1) Subject to subsection (3) [possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence – exception], every person commits an offence who possesses a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition that the person knows was obtained by the commission in Canada of an offence or by an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence.

Weapons Trafficking:

99 (1) Every person commits an offence who

(a) manufactures or transfers, whether or not for consideration, or

(b) offers to do anything referred to in paragraph (a) in respect of

a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, a non-restricted firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, any ammunition or any prohibited ammunition knowing that the person is not authorized to do so under the Firearms Act or any other Act of Parliament or any regulations made under any Act of Parliament.

How can you defend a weapons charge?

Carrying or using a gun or a weapon can be a criminal offence in itself. It can also enhance the seriousness of other charges and be considered an aggravating factor. Possessing a firearm can mean a minimum sentence of three years in prison. If you are charged with other crimes, such as robbery or murder in which a firearm was used, the minimum sentences are even more severe.

Those accused of illegal firearms offences may find a defence if their rights as defined in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated in the course of the investigation. 

What to do if you have been charged with a Weapons offence

  • Do not make a statement to the police without your lawyer. You may not be aware of all the details of the law related to the charge and you might end up making incriminating statements without realizing you are doing so. Have a lawyer present when you talk to police.
  • Do not panic. Just because you have been charged with a weapons offence, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be convicted. Sometimes it is used in the negotiation of other charges as well.
  • Understand your rights. People are often unaware that they are in violation of the law with regard to weapons. Others are unaware that there are defences available to their weapons charge. It is important that you speak with a lawyer immediately to understand what your charges mean and the best course of action.

Weapons and Gun Defence Lawyer

If you have been charged with a weapons offence, Rishma Gupta will vigorously defend you. She has represented individuals charged with weapons and other criminal offences in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout Ontario. Learn more about it in our Firearms and Weapons Defence page.