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What are prohibited devices in Canada?

Region: Ontario Answer # 7805

The Firearms Act provides a strict and comprehensive legal framework for regulating firearms and related accessories. Firearms Regulations govern the possession, use, and transfer of firearms, and certain devices and accessories are classified as prohibited. The consequences of possessing prohibited devices can be severe.

If you have been charged with a firearms or weapons related crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

What are prohibited devices and accessories?

The Canadian government publishes a list of prohibited devices and accessories under the firearms Regulations. This list is maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and is regularly updated to reflect changes in legislation and the addition or removal of certain prohibited devices.

Examples of prohibited devices and accessories in Canada include:

  • Prohibited firearm magazines: Certain types of magazines that exceed a specific round capacity are prohibited. For example, magazines designed or manufactured for use in a handgun that have a capacity exceeding 10 rounds are prohibited.
  • Prohibited ammunition: Certain types of ammunition are prohibited due to their potential for causing excessive damage or being specifically designed for use in prohibited firearms. Examples include armor-piercing ammunition and explosive ammunition.
  • Prohibited suppressors: Suppressors, commonly known as silencers, are prohibited in Canada. These devices are designed to reduce the noise and flash produced by firearms when they are discharged.
  • Prohibited stocks: Certain types of stocks that can be used to make firearms more compact or concealable are prohibited. This includes folding stocks and stocks that are designed to be easily removed or folded.
  • Prohibited barrels: Certain types of barrels, such as sawed-off shotgun barrels, are prohibited. These barrels have been shortened to make the firearm more concealable or maneuverable, but they are not allowed under Canadian firearms regulations.
  • Prohibited conversion kits: Conversion kits that are designed to modify firearms into prohibited configurations are prohibited. These kits can include parts that allow a semi-automatic firearm to become fully automatic or increase its magazine capacity beyond the legal limit.
  • Prohibited firearms: Certain types of firearms are prohibited in Canada, including:
    • Short-barreled handguns: Handguns with barrels equal to or less than 105 mm in length
    • Handguns designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge
      • does not include handguns for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union and where the handgun is prescribed to be restricted
    • Converted automatics: Modified firearms originally designed as semi-automatic but altered to function as fully automatic weapons. Specifically, firearms adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted are:
      • less than 660 mm in length
      • 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length
    • Automatic firearms: These are firearms that have the capability of continuous fire with a single pull of the trigger whether or not they have been altered
    • Firearms prescribed to be prohibited firearms in the Regulations

Possessing prohibited devices – offences and penalties

Possession, acquisition, and transfer of prohibited devices without proper authorization is a criminal offence. Punishments for violating these regulations can include fines, imprisonment, or both.

If found in possession of a prohibited device, individuals may face charges under the Criminal Code, specifically Part III, Possession Offences, Section 91 which prohibits the possession of prohibited firearms, prohibited weapons, and prohibited devices:

Unauthorized possession of firearm

91 (1) Subject to subsection (4), every person commits an offence who possesses a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm or a non-restricted firearm without being the holder of

    • (a)a licence under which the person may possess it; and
    • (b)in the case of a prohibited firearm or a restricted firearm, a registration certificate for it. 

Unauthorized possession of prohibited weapon or restricted weapon

(2) Subject to subsection (4), every person commits an offence who possesses a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, other than a replica firearm, or any prohibited ammunition, without being the holder of a licence under which the person may possess it.


(3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2)

    • (a)is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
    • (b)is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Are there exceptions to owing prohibited devices and accessories?

The Firearms Act and related Regulations outline specific circumstances where certain prohibited devices and accessories may be allowed or exempted:

  • Grandfathered prohibited devices: Some devices and accessories that were classified as prohibited before a certain date may be exempted for individuals who owned them prior to the prohibition. These are often referred to as “grandfathered” devices. Owners of grandfathered prohibited devices are required to comply with specific storage, transportation, and transfer regulations to ensure their safe and legal use.
  • Historical and military collections: Certain prohibited devices and accessories may be allowed for individuals who possess them solely for historical or military collection purposes. These collectors must meet specific criteria, such as belonging to a recognized organization or demonstrating expertise in the collection and preservation of historical firearms and accessories.
  • Law enforcement and military personnel: Prohibited devices and accessories may be permitted for individuals who are authorized members of law enforcement agencies or the Canadian Armed Forces. These individuals must adhere to strict regulations and training standards to ensure the safe and responsible use of these devices.

Even with these exceptions, individuals must still comply with various licensing, registration, and storage requirements. Failure to comply may result in criminal charges and penalties.

How are the regulations enforced?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is responsible for administering and enforcing the firearms Regulations.

The RCMP works closely with other law enforcement agencies at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels to ensure compliance with firearms laws. This includes conducting inspections, investigations, and taking appropriate enforcement actions against individuals or businesses found to be in possession of prohibited devices.

The enforcement of prohibited devices and accessories is primarily carried out through proactive policing and targeted operations. This involves monitoring and tracking the sale, possession, and use of firearms and related accessories in various ways.

Canadian firearms Regulations compliance

To ensure compliance with Canadian firearms Regulations and avoid the possession of prohibited devices, individuals should take the following steps:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Regulations: It is essential to thoroughly research and understand the specific devices and accessories that are classified as prohibited in Canada. This includes staying informed about any updates or changes to the regulations.
  2. Obtain the necessary authorizations: If there is a legitimate reason for owning a device or accessory classified as prohibited, individuals can apply for the appropriate authorizations. This may involve obtaining a specific licence or permit from the Canadian Firearms Program.
  3. Store firearms and accessories securely: It is crucial to store firearms and any associated devices or accessories securely to prevent unauthorized access. This includes using lockable cabinets or safes and storing ammunition separately.
  4. Regularly review and update licences: Individuals who possess firearms licences should ensure they are regularly reviewing and updating their licences as required. This includes reporting any changes in address, updating information on restricted firearms, and renewing licences before they expire.
  5. Seek legal advice if unsure: If individuals are unsure about the classification of a device or accessory or have any questions regarding Canadian firearms Regulations, it is recommended to seek legal advice from a qualified professional. They can provide guidance and ensure compliance with the law.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .


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