A man replaces a shotgun in the rack in a downtown Montreal outdoor store. When not in use, all guns in Canada must have trigger locks, and there are clear laws about safe storage which apply to legal gun owners.

A man replaces a shotgun in the rack in a downtown Montreal outdoor sports store. Gun sales in Canada are increasing although Canada has strict gun laws. Anyone who wishes to own a firearm must pay for a firearms course, submit to police background checks and more to become "registered" and obtain a license. Handgun ownership requires an additional paid course and licence class. No gun can legally change hands without proof of the licence.
Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

Documentary-“Up in Arms”- the for and against of firearms ownership in Canada


Canada has strict firearms laws, but whenever there is a shooting, from gang violence, or a person gone mad, the issue of further restrictions comes up, bolstered by a strong anti-gun lobby

A new documentary film explores the legal and illegal sides of gun ownership or possession

Nadine Pequeneza, of HitPlay Productions in Toronto is the producer and director of the film called, Up In Arms: How the Gun Lobby is Changing Canada

Nadine Pequeneza, of HitPlay Productions, Toronto, is producer and director of
Nadine Pequeneza, of HitPlay Productions, Toronto, is producer and director of “Up in Arms- how the gun lobby is changing Canada” © HitPlay Productions

Firearms ownership is a contentious issue in Canada.

Due to the occasional firearms crime, deadly or not, in Canada, and the many often tragic incidents from the US all of which are widely reported in the media, many Canadians mistakenly believe gun crime is on the rise in Canada.  This has meant a large number of urban Canadians to believe the gun laws in Canada are not strict enough, while many gun owners say further restrictions on legal gun owners only hurts them and does absolutely nothing with respect to illegal firearms and crime and is a misdirected and ineffective solution to crime.

Indeed, Statistics Canada figures show gun crime has been on a slow and steady decline for years.

Canada has had strict laws since 1934 when all pistols had to be registered with police. The laws for any firearms ownership have been tightened further in the decades since.     Assault firearms, (with full automatic capability) are banned outright and have been since the 1970’s.

Some “assault-looking” guns are also banned, along with a number of other types of guns including for example .25 and .32 calibre pistols, and any pistol with a short barrel (105mm or less) or any a rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make it less than 660 mm (26 inches) in overall length and a rifle or shotgun that has been altered to make the barrel length less than 457 mm (18 inches) where the overall firearm length is 660 mm (26 inches) or more;

A scene from the documentary film
A scene from the documentary film “Up in Arms- how the gun lobby is changing Canada”. In Canada, a gun store owner cannot let you touch a gun of any kind, even to look at, if you do not produce a valid licence showing you are allowed to own and purchase firearms. This is also true for ammunition sales, and private sales, Failure to ask for and record the licence for police files can result in serious charges and penalties.. © HitPlay Productions

The laws were further tightened as a result of a mass shooting in 1989 in Montreal which left the shooter and 14 female university students dead.

While all persons who wish to legally own guns must themselves be registered-following payment for a classroom course, police background checks and more- a new law required all “long guns” to also be registered, as well as including other legal aspects of search and seizure.

This long-gun registry was astronomically expensive, at an estimated cost of $2 billion or more, and many legal owners pointed out it contributed absolutely nothing to increase security, while creating the possibility of otherwise law-abiding citizens to face federal criminal charges and penalties.

Alex is a young girl previously involved in crime in Toronto's inner city, She says illegal guns were easy to obtain, albeit expensive. The presence of illegal guns- usually handguns- has always infuriated the legal gun owners who say they are being penalized for the problems caused by illegal guns.
Alex is a young girl previously involved in crime, gangs, and guns in Toronto’s inner city, She says illegal guns were easy to obtain, albeit expensive. Back in school and determined to be a role model for her younger siblings, Alex takes the first tentative steps toward a better future. © HitPlay Productions

This was recently repealed and the anti-firearms lobby said it was a step towards “Americanization” of Canadian gun laws.

A majority of Canadians remain generally misinformed about Canadian laws, due to the influence of American news stories about the relative ease of obtaining firearms there, and the types of firearms one can purchase.

There is also an enormous difference between legal gun ownership and the illegal possession and acquisition of firearms, usually pistols, occasionally involved in crimes, and sometimes deadly crimes.

The new film looks at the two sides in the issue, the wide gulf that separates them and  the different opinions within the groups themselves.

The film will be broadcast in Ontario on the TVO network on September 23, and repeated afterward on the 25 and 27th

It will be available on the TVO website as of the 24th (within Canada only) . The film may at some future date be also distributed in other countries, but there is nothing firm at this point.

The sport of cowboy mounted shooting

Wild west shooting

Muzzle loaders club

Canadian Shooting sports

Dominion of Canada Rifle Assoc.

Coalition for Gun Control

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12 comments on “Documentary-“Up in Arms”- the for and against of firearms ownership in Canada
  1. Avatar Ralph Rubinek says:

    Gun control is a failure. In Japan, guns banned, 30,000 deaths annually and not one gun used. In England, guns banned, shootings everywhere and now the Home office wants to ban eating utensils. Instead of treating criminals like an endangered species, it’s time to incarcerate them. It’s time to effectively address illicit drug use and it’s time to blame terrorists, not Israel.

    May God help us all…

  2. Avatar Ronald Wilson says:

    How much gun control is required for licensed firearms owners?

    Examine the current requirements that incl. mandatory training, background checks, storage requirements, spousal approval, and an ATT for restricted guns.

    I favour an ‘expert’ committee, incl. the RCMP, to classify firearms (CSSA position). The Liberal approach went by ‘appearance’. The Liberals and NDP will prohibit semi-automatic firearms, a full 50% of all sporting firearms!

    Confiscation of private property without compensation! That reminds me of how Canada treated Japanese-Canadians in WW II. Sadly, ONLY the Conservatives protect the rights of ALL Canadians. This Liberal inspired wedge issue has in the past sacrificed the historic gun culture of over two million Canadians, mostly rural for the sake of urban votes.

    The Left reject firearms statistics that show licensed gun owners to be the most law abiding group in Canadian society.

    The Ontario Chief Firearms Officer was creating law based on groundless opinion and fear mongering. The tail wagged the dog. C-42 has recognised reality. Ask this CFO how many licensed owners have been found to carry restricted guns in their cars with no lawful reason? Answer is NONE to date. Enough fear mongering, lies and anti-gun propaganda.

    Where is a televised national debate on these gun issues? The Left does not want it as their baseless arguments would be blown out of the water.
    The Firearms Act, with increased police powers and the confiscation of private property without compensation, was one more step towards a police state where only police, criminals and the military have guns. The liberal Left was mute. After all they didn’t own sporting firearms. Come the Cons Bill C-51 and the leftist whining begins. How many have bothered to read the three Acts?

  3. Avatar Peter says:

    Ever notice that Canada has a crime problem, not a gun problem. You are 2.65 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver in Canada because Canadians are drunks and are not AMERICAN.

    Ever notice gun control so called facts are all doctored BS?

    Ever notice that NON gun owners are 66% more likely to commit murder than a GUN OWNER in Canada, look no further than Simon Fraser University the guys name is Dr. Gary Mauser.

    Every notice since the gun registry was SUPPOSE to be abolished crime went down, less gun control makes us more safe.

    Ever notice that every place with gun control has lots of murder. US 1.02 per 100 thousand people/year, Canada 1.65 per 100 thousand people/year, Mexico 1.75 per 100, thousand people a year. The US would be 0.60 if you took all the murder hot spots out all the places there is lots of gun control. Chicago another example it reversed in 30 days and stayed that way and is still that way years later.

    Gun Control is taking away guns from the law abiding only and crime gets worse. Not to mention every place there has been gun control in time Genocide happens next in time and is responsible for 284,000,000 murders which is 3.8 times greater than all wars fought in the same time period the last 120 years (Vietnam, WWI, WWII and so on).

    The Canadian Gun owners such as myself are trying to change Canada back to the place it was 25 years ago when we had guns in back windows of trucks and we were safer.

    Also McGill did a study finding that gun control in Canada did nothing for us, look it up if you dare to.

    Gun Control is either Hate Speech, or Shooting with both hands. I prefer using firearms safely, and not spreading Fascism, and propaganda.

    Don’t like guns don’t buy them, or move to China, Cuba, Mexico, or Korea.

    • Avatar Ronald Wilson says:

      Well said. Firearms deaths have been on a steady downward trend for the last forty years!

      Canada could have stopped with the 70s Firearms Acquisition Certificate. Subsequent legislation created a wedge issue that was divisive, expensive and ineffective. The Liberals and NDP continue to promote division rather than common sence legislation. Shame on them!

  4. I must admit I am surprised. I have been involved in this issue since Pierre Trudeau introduced Bill C-195, “An Amendment to the C.C.C.) with respect to firearms in Canada.

    At that time, truth be known, I was like 95% of Canadian and had no idea whatsoever about various laws, particularly those of the Criminal Code. However, I was a keen lawful firearms owner and user and this document intrigued me — particularly when I got to the final page where is stated: “Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, the Governor In Council may ………….. and it went on to basically indicate that the Governor In Council could do as he wished — make whatever amendments he wished — and I discovered at that time that said individual had virtual carte blanche — reported to no one — did not have to give reasons for any changes and could not be challenged.

    That intrigued me. It made no sense whatever. And I decided to do some investigating. To do so meant I had to go to the House of Commons, attempt to get a meeting with an M.P. and hopefully be listened to and received some answers.

    What I got instead was: “You just don’t understand.” And that, in my view begot all kinds of red flags.

    Suffice to say I kept on insisting that I wished to be answered how such a situation could exist and was, quite frankly laughed at by most of the ‘knowing people.’

    Two of us decided to form an association titled: FARO, based on what we saw were many lawful firearms owners and this law, as we saw it, was dangerous to said firearms owners — and it was based on two fundamental principles — “We recognize the need of law as a prerequisite for an orderly society. However, we also recognize that bad law is a prerequisite for an ‘Ordered Society’ two letters different, but two worlds apart.”

  5. Avatar John Evers says:

    Another error in the interview. The interviewer states at 2:27 that Canadian laws are “much stricter than anything in the United States”.

    That is not factually correct. Maryland and New York state for example have laws (directed at lawful use) that are much harsher than Canadian laws.

    • Marc Montgomery Marc Montgomery says:

      New York Civil Rights Law art. II, § 4 provides that “[a] well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.”
      New York State Law does not require a hunting license to own or possess long guns or pistols. New York State Law does require a permit to own/possess a pistol. New York State Law does not require a permit to own or possess a long gun unless it falls under the definition of assault weapon. In 2013 New York State banned the sale and possession of assault weapons (guns that have certain features) NY SAFE Act.

      Hunting permits are always required in Canada, Assault weapons are banned outright in Canada

      NY State Permit to Purchase rifles-shotguns= No* handguns Yes

      CANADA- permit to purchase – always required and must be shown, whether commercial (store) or private sale, also when buying ammunition, Ontario stores will record the licence number (eg Canadian Tire), although the federal law should be uniform across Canada, Ontario has this law

      NY State Registration of Firearms R-S =No* handguns= Yes –

      CANADA registration R-S =NO, handguns=YES Plus many types long gun and pistols outright ban Purchasers with the correct permit to buy restricted guns will have personal information recorded for police files at time of sale.

      NY State Licensing of Owners R-S =No* handguns= Yes –

      CANADA = ALL (legal) owners are registered- They must pass a classroom course ($)-background check, and additional security assurances from spouse or ex, and others

      NY State Permit to Carry R-S= No* Handguns=Yes

      CANADA- licence must be carried whenever any type of guns is in possession or use- hunting, transport, competition, etc….There are very specific rules (and penalties some severe) regarding storage at home and for transporting any guns but for HANDGUNS- special additional permit must applied for and carried along with -strict- limitations about when and where handgun is to be to transported and can be used (ALSO extremely strict rules for who may carry concealed handguns- exceptionally rare in Canada)

      • Avatar Peter says:

        Before 1978 anyone in Canada could own a Assault rifle and carry it anywhere. Any country anywhere you need a hunting licence so there is no difference Canada vs US (hunting is preservation). Before 2005 people with full autos (Assault Rifles) with the licences could take them to and from an Approved Range.

        The police (RCMP) make up firearm laws and they Changed the law so the owners could not leave the house with them. Assault Rifles (full autos) people still own them, and can still sell them today, they just cant use them. So how has that made us safer when you are 4 times more likely to be killed with a rock or a knife in Canada (before and after gun control)? Only difference crime has gone up with all are gun control.

  6. Avatar John Evers says:

    The text above.. ” In Canada, a gun store owner cannot let you touch a gun of any kind, even to it look at, if you do not produce a valid licence showing you are allowed to own and purchase firearms” is in error.

    There is no reason anyone who is not subject to a firearm prohibition cannot handle or look at a firearm in a store with or without a licence. Now stores may certainly invoke their own rules to that effect if they wish.

    As long as the person showing the firearm is licensed for the class of firearm in question and the customer is under their direct supervision all is perfectly legal.

    Hope this helps clarify matters.

    • Marc Montgomery Marc Montgomery says:

      That may be true, John, however whether law or not, the store policy is almost universal, it is extremely unlikely that a store owner will pass a firearm over the counter without first verifying the client

      • Avatar Peter says:

        Its just a anti-gun policy because our policies are there to destroy the sport by manufacturing fear.

        • Avatar Ronald Wilson says:

          Too true. The Ontario Chief Firearms Officer claimed C-42 would result in handguns being carried in glove boxes. No support for that statement. Typical anti-gun fear mongering. The gun control folks have never let reality or truth get in the way of their position.