Do not carry a concealed weapon in Alberta

Do not carry a concealed weapon in Alberta

By Vincent Semenuk

People living in Alberta may wonder if they can carry some sort of concealed weapon with them when they go out in public, especially at night. The simple answer is no. They may end up facing criminal charges due to that decision. If you feel threatened, the best option, when possible, is to call for police assistance.

As my colleague Matt Deshaye has noted, “citizens are allowed to defend themselves. However, there must be a tangible threat and the force to counter that must be reasonable in the circumstances.”

Bear spray has no place on the subway

According to a January news report, a least one Edmonton resident arms himself with dog and bear spray in order to “feel safe” when travelling on the city’s LRT system. The unnamed man told the Western Standard he “will deal with the law” if he is charged for carrying the weapons on the transit system.

As an Edmonton police spokesperson warns, “The only legal exception to carrying pepper spray is if you are in an area associated with wildlife where you may require to use it for protection against animals. Anything other than this exception could lead to criminal charges, including carrying spray for personal defence."

Another news article claims that women in Calgary are carrying concealed weapons, with one resident admitting she carries pepper spray with her along with an alarm. She also conceals a weapon that is “like a little dagger, basically.”

She could be facing time in custody if found with these weapons. As a Calgary police officer, notes, “If the object that you're carrying is intended to cause harm to another individual and is not used as a typical tool, then you can be caught and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.”

The charges offenders may face

Anyone caught with a concealed weapon can be charged with two offences under the Criminal Code. They are:

  • Carrying concealed weapon Section 90(1) of the Code makes it an offence to conceal a weapon or a prohibited device unless you are authorized under the Firearms Act to carry it concealed. If the charge is treated as an indictable offence and you are found guilty, the maximum sentence is five years in prison.
  • Possession of weapon for dangerous purpose Under s.88(1) of the Code, anyone caught with “weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition” can be charged, since such possession could be “dangerous to the public peace.” If the charge is treated as an indictable offence and you are convicted, the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

Definitions for weapons and prohibited devices

If someone is charged with carrying a concealed weapon that doesn’t necessarily mean they possessed a firearm. A weapon is defined as any object that can be used to cause death or injury to someone else or to threaten and intimidate them. Examples of a weapon include pepper spray, handguns, brass knuckles, knives, nunchucks and pellet or BB guns.

A prohibited device can be any component of a weapon or an accessory, such as a silencer for a handgun. Replica firearms also fall into this category.

Some people can legally carry firearms

Outside of the law enforcement community, few people in Canada are authorized to carry firearms. According to the RCMP, those who want to carry a handgun or restricted long gun for a lawful occupational purpose, such as a security guard in an armoured car, must obtain an Authorization to Carry (ATC) from the Canadian Firearm Program.

Licensed professional trappers and those who work in wilderness areas and who need protection from wild animals can also apply for an ATC, though generally, the only firearms they can use will be non-restricted rifles or shotguns.

The SCC’s view of concealed weapons

In 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a seminal judgment that articulated why it is a crime to carry a concealed weapon in this country. As the court noted: “There is something extremely menacing and intimidating about the presence of a naked weapon. There is something even more sinister in the presence of a concealed weapon ... if it was ever thought that it was lawful to carry concealed weapons more and more Canadians might come to believe it would be prudent for them to carry concealed weapons in order to defend themselves and their families. This might lead to a vigilante attitude that could all too readily result in an increase in violence in Canadian society.”

Call us for assistance

If you have been charged with carrying a concealed weapon you have options. The lawyers at Dunn & Associates pride ourselves in developing vigorous defences of all firearm-related charges while ensuring that your interests are protected in all steps of the judicial process.

Contact us for a free consultation. Whether it was a momentary lapse of judgment or you have been falsely accused, your freedom is our focus.