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NSCL No Right To Bear Arms

March 27, 2023

No "Right" To Bear Arms

Canadian Law Regarding Firearms and "Gun Control"

The Second Amendment of the American constitution reads in part:

“… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This provision has been interpreted by politically powerful American individuals and groups to mean that individual citizens have a “constitutional right to buy, own and carry firearms for self-defense, including security against tyranny, as well as hunting and sporting activities”. Any restriction on gun ownership or any gun control regulation is viewed as an unacceptable violation of Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Canada is different. We do not recognize a “right to bear arms” either under our constitution or at Common Law. Canada has never had a constitutional provision similar to the US Second Amendment. Our history and traditions have treated firearms as a type of property which is capable of causing harm and therefore subject to public interest regulation, including the registration and licensing of gun ownership.

Nevertheless, the American gun control debate has flowed across the border and influences Canadian politics and public policy. Gun-control has become highly politicized and the current partisan approach to firearms regulation has left little space to develop good public policy. The introduction and then withdrawal of Bill C-21 (legislation intended to freeze the sale of handguns, crack down on gun smuggling and automatically revoke firearms licences from domestic abusers), is the most recent example.

What is the Canadian law regarding firearms, especially in the context of registration, licensing and other regulation of gun ownership? What fuels controversy in Canada over gun-control regulation? Is our law adequate to control illegal and criminal use of firearms?

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