When Can The Police Seize My Firearm?

Gun ownership in Canada is unique. It’s more heavily regulated than most countries, which may be a concern to those who own firearms here.

For clarity’s sake, let’s start by defining a few terms. In Canada, a firearm is a barreled weapon that fires projectiles and can harm others. That includes guns, handguns, shotguns, and even airsoft guns. When a police officer seizes a firearm, they forcibly take the weapon from someone else’s possession.

There are three classes of firearms in Canada:

  • Non-restricted
  • Restricted
  • Prohibited

Prohibited firearms can be owned legally if they were grandfathered in before the recent legislation changes or if they are only used for target practice.

Even if an individual is of legal age, owns a restricted firearm, and obtains their licence, the police can still seize a firearm. In the following circumstances, the police have the right to search for and revoke firearms if:

They Have a Warrant

When it comes to searches, arrests, and seizing firearms, law enforcers usually require a warrant. This is provided by a judge who accepts an application from the officer. The warrant allows the officer to search the person, building, and/or other location and seize whatever is necessary. 

However, there are exceptions. After an individual is charged with domestic violence, the police can seize any and all firearms. But police officers are also authorized to conduct warrantless searches.

They Believe a Crime Was/Will Be Committed

It may come as a surprise to some that in certain situations, police are permitted to search for and seize firearms without a warrant.

In time-sensitive situations, it’s not always feasible for officers to go through the application process with a judge. 

An officer may revoke a gun from an individual if they catch them in the act of committing a crime, planning to do so, or if they’re suspicious that an event will occur. A law enforcer can seize weapons from anyone they suspect is a threat to public safety.

The officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that an individual may commit a crime or did so in the past.

The Individual Lacks the Documentation to Own a Firearm

Unlike the United States, not all Canadian citizens have the right to own a firearm. They require a licence or other authorization (like a registration certificate for a prohibited firearm). Failing to produce this documentation upon request may result in criminal charges or an arrest.

If one fails to produce the authorization documents, the police can seize their firearm. But if they are carrying the appropriate licence, then that officer must return the weapon to its owner. 

Protect Your Rights

Do you believe that you were unlawfully searched? Was your firearm seized and not returned to you? Have you been charged with a firearm offence and require a criminal lawyer?

The laws regarding firearms in Canada are complex. These charges are not something that an individual should handle on their own. If you’re searching for a weapon offence lawyer in Winnipeg, contact Brodsky Amy & Gould. We offer legal representation for many different charges, including firearm offences. You can call or text our line 24/7 and a lawyer will get back to you shortly.