Gun Offenses

What You Need to Know

At first thought the term ‘gun offence’ may conjure up images of gangs, black market handguns, drive-by shootings or bank robberies carried out by masked bandits with sawed off shotguns. The stark reality is that the vast majority of individuals charged with gun offences are otherwise innocent citizens who are caught by the entangling, confusing and often unfair legal framework that comprises Canadian gun legislation. Hunters and sportsman, collectors and connoisseurs, farmers and ranchers, even children, are often victims of overzealous criminal prosecutors and police officers who have never themselves fired a firearm before basic training. 

The rights of gun owners in Canada are constantly challenged in and out of the courtroom. Navigating gun control in this country means understanding the context and laws surrounding a guns charge, whether it be licensing, storage, or possession – and is an essential first step our top criminal lawyers take in the path to a winning defence.

Legal Terms and Definitions

In Canada, criminal charges can occur under the Firearms Act where police gather evidence relating to one or several of these possible charges:

Careless use/storage/transportation of a firearm: uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.

Pointing a firearm: points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded. Does not include imitation firearms.

Using a firearm in the commission of an offence: uses a firearm, whether or not the person causes or means to cause bodily harm to any person as a result of using the firearm, committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence; or, during flight after committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence.

Possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose: carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.

Failing to produce a valid possession license: fails to surrender to a peace officer, a firearms officer or a chief firearms officer any authorization, licence or registration certificate held by the person when the person is required to do so.

Restricted firearm: a handgun that is not a prohibited firearm, a firearm that has a barrel less than 470 mm in length, and is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner, a firearm that is designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660 mm by folding, telescoping or otherwise, or
a firearm of any other kind that is prescribed to be a restricted firearm.

Implications

The expected consequences for being charged with weapons offences can be severe. To a gun owner the consequences of a conviction for any of these offences can be devastating including a criminal record, the confiscation of your firearms, as well as a prohibition on owning firearms in the future. In addition, many firearms offences today come with mandatory minimum sentences starting at one year all the way up for 5 years jail time for a first offence. 

Beyond this, a criminal conviction can lead to lost employment opportunities, travel restrictions or the psychological and emotional stigma and consequences of now being labeled a ‘criminal’. 

 

How We Can Help

At Dunn and Associates, when it comes to defending your rights to bear arms we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. Each and every one of our lawyers are gun owners and holders of a Canadian Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). As shooters/hunters/collectors, we understand the passion that lawful gun owners have for their rights. We understand that having your guns seized and confiscated can be a personal loss. We understand that a firearms prohibition means more than not being able to shoot or hunt, it changes who we are. Because we understand, we care and we will fight for your rights, and the collective rights of gun owners long term.

Strategies for Defence
There is a lot we can do if you’ve been charged with possession, concealed carry, or even careless use of a gun. We pride ourselves in developing vigorous defenses of gun charges, including:

Challenging gun definitions
Within the law, firearms typically fall under two general categories: Long Guns (rifles, shotguns) and Handguns (revolvers, pistols), and are defined as ‘a weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person’. However the legislation around inoperable, imitation, makeshift and prohibited firearms is complicated and subjective. Challenging the assertion that a rifle or revolver actually qualifies as a “firearm” according to the Criminal Code and/or Firearms Act can bring success in dropping charges.

Questioning the concept of gun possession
We have a deep understanding of the exceptions to the laws around gun possession, and can often take this approach when circumstances show that the legislation applied to a situation is unclear or unfair. 

Dissecting gun registration and licensing rules
The legislation and rules at time of charge are incredibly complex, be it pointing a firearm, or failing to produce licensing. We carefully review procedures and details to ensure that police officers don’t lay charges in error due to lack of knowledge with respect to gun classification and/or transportation or storage regulations.

Challenging firearm legislation with respect to minimum sentences
Outdated, often draconian and out of context laws around sentencing need to be changed. We believe that Canada’s gun laws are under siege – from politicians, police officers, prosecutors, the media, and even the judiciary.

Call us. We can help.

If you have been charged with careless storage, pointing a firearm, or possession for a dangerous purpose, give our Calgary criminal lawyers a call. Whether a momentary lapse of judgment or being falsely accused of something you didn’t do, your freedom is our focus.

Latest News Of Gun Offenses

June 2017
When transporting and storing firearms and ammunition, it's always important to stay on the right side of Calgary, Alberta's gun and ammunition storage laws. Our handy guide can help you keep your weapon storage safe and legal. Adhering to the law can help prevent accidents and deter theft. Transporting Firearms Non-restricted firearms must be unloaded at all times during transportation. If you are transporting restricted or prohibited firearms, they must be both... more
March 2014
Sentencing arguments wrapped up today in the case of a man who threatened to kill hundreds of people at last year's Calgary Stampede. Pat Deegan, 29, pleaded guilty in January to uttering death threats, possession of unauthorized firearms and two counts of breaching conditions in relation to an email he sent to the Calgary Fire Department on May 26, 2013. "There is going to be a machine gun attack at the Calgary Stampede this year," the email read. "Two MG-52s... more
September 2014
  In this edition of Vocal Point: Fred Rayner , Rayner Consulting;  Greg Dunn , defence lawyer; and  Jason van Rassel , Calgary Herald.