Policy Memorandum

Issue:

Classification of Firearms

Policy Memorandum No.:

15-5

Last Reviewed:

16 July 2019

Policy:

Firearms should be classified based on objective, readily identifiable, criteria that are relevant to their safe use and operation by properly trained and licensed individuals. No firearm should be prohibited.

Rationale and Discussion:

While the CCFR believes that it is people who should be regulated, and not firearms, and that any properly trained and vetted individual can be safe with any firearm, the CCFR does recognize that there are differences between firearms which ought to require additional training to ensure public safety. The training required to safely operate a rifle or shotgun is different from the training required to safely operate a handgun, and the training required to operate a fully-automatic firearm is different still.

Note:

Bill C-71 formalizes the reclassification of CZ 858 and SAN Swiss Arms sporting rifles as prohibited despite their previous classification as non-restricted. Both rifles do not have characteristics which make them significantly different from thousands of other semi-automatic sporting and hunting rifles sold legally as non-restricted today.

The CCFR opposes the continued mis-categorization of these rifles as prohibited firearms and continues to support categorization based on dimensions and function.

The CCFR proposes three classes of firearm, based on dimensions and function. Dimensions are used rather than “handgun” or “long gun” because the terms leave room for interpretation whereas dimensions do not. Similarly, functions leave no room for interpretation because a firearm is either fully automatic or it is not. The classes would be as follows:

  1. Class I Firearms (typically rifles and shotguns) would be any firearm that is not fully automatic, that has an overall length of at least 660 mm.
  2. Class II Firearms would be any firearm that is not fully automatic and has an overall length less than 660 mm.
  3. Class III Firearms would be any firearm that is fully automatic.

Currently there are highly problematic regulations and practices associated with determining whether a semi-automatic firearm was converted from a fully automatic firearm. These regulations and practices ought to be reconciled with clear and demonstrable criteria.

The CCFR does not suggest any additional restrictions based on the class of firearm beyond the level of training and vetting required. Any use that is lawful and safe by a licensed user with the proper endorsement for that class of firearm ought to be permitted. This is consistent with the presumption that firearm users and owners are law-abiding and safe.