Classifying and re-classifying firearms

Classifying firearms

A firearm is classified based on criteria in subsection 84(1) of the Criminal Code and corresponding regulations made by Orders in Council. Only Parliament and the Governor in Council can change classification criteria.

Re-classifying firearms

It may sometimes appear that a firearm has been "re-classified". But this term is not really accurate.

The Canadian Firearms Program applies criteria set out in the Criminal Code and corresponding regulations. A firearm's class depends on:

  • the attributes of the firearm
  • the definitions of "restricted firearm" and "prohibited firearm" in the Criminal Code

However, in some cases, information arises that influences the classification.

  • For example, authorities may determine the classification of a firearm based on information provided by a manufacturer or an importer before the firearm is imported. But when they inspect it, authorities might find that the information first provided was not accurate or complete.

  • Sometimes, upon further inspection, it is determined that a firearm can be easily modified (e.g., reduced in length, converted from semi-automatic to full automatic). This new information may help determine the correct classification of the firearm.

  • If the design of an imported firearm changes over time from the initial shipment, the newer model may be in a different class than the original model.

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