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When can your firearms licence be suspended or revoked?

Region: Ontario Answer # 7808

In Canada, the possession and use of firearms are subject to strict regulations and licensing requirements. To ensure public safety, there are circumstances under which a firearms licence may be suspended or revoked.

It is illegal to possess and use a firearm without a licence. 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 is the difference between a licence suspension and a licence revocation?

Licence suspension refers to the temporary withdrawal of an individual’s firearm licence. This means that the licence holder is prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms for a specified period of time.

Licence revocation is the permanent withdrawal of an individual’s firearm licence. Once a licence is revoked, the individual is permanently prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms. Revocation occurs in more serious cases where there is a significant risk to public safety or a blatant disregard for the law. Once revoked, individuals are no longer eligible to apply for a firearms licence in the future.

When might a licence be suspended or revoked?

Under the Canadian Firearms Act, there are several grounds on which a firearms licence may be suspended or revoked. A licence may be denied (meaning the applicant is disqualified from obtaining a licence) for the same reasons. These grounds may include:

  • Criminal convictions: If an individual is convicted of a serious offence, including offences related to violence, firearms, or drugs.
  • Mental health concerns: If an individual is found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental health issues, or if he or she has been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution or have been found unfit to stand trial due to mental illness.
  • Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds: If there is a court-issued restraining order or peace bond against an individual, prohibiting them from possessing firearms.
  • Intimate Partner violence (formerly called domestic violence): If an individual is convicted of intimate violence offences, such as assault, harassment, or stalking.
  • Prohibited persons: Certain individuals are prohibited from possessing firearms in Canada, regardless of whether they have a valid firearms licence; or example, due to a conviction for a serious offence or being subject to a firearm prohibition order.
  • Breach of conditions: If an individual fails to comply with the conditions of their firearm licence, such as storing firearms securely or using them only for lawful purposes.
  • False information: Providing false information or omitting relevant details on a PAL application.
  • Breach of firearm storage and transportation regulations: Failing to comply with proper storage and transportation requirements for firearms.

How is a firearms licence suspended or revoked? 

If there are grounds to believe that a firearms licence should be suspended or revoked, the provincial Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) will conduct an investigation. The CFO has the authority to suspend a licence pending the outcome of the investigation.

During the investigation, the CFO may gather information from various sources, including law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals, and court records. They may also interview the licence holder and any other relevant individuals.

Once the investigation is complete, the CFO will decide whether to revoke the firearms licence. If the decision is to revoke the licence, the licence holder will be notified in writing, stating the reasons for the decision and stating a time period under which any weapons that you have in your possession at the time of the refusal or revocation must be lawfully disposed of or delivered to a peace officer, firearms officer or a chief firearms officer.

If you refer the matter to a provincial court judge within the time limit set out in provincial firearms legislation (usually 30-days) after getting your letter, the whole process goes on “hold.”  The time period for “lawfully disposing of” your items stops being in force. In most cases, the provincial court judge shall fix a date for the hearing to confirm or change the decision on to refuse or revoke the licence.

Can a decision be appealed?

If a firearms licence is revoked, the licence holder has the right to appeal the decision if they believe it was unjust or unfair. However, during the appeal process, the revocation remains in effect until a final decision is reached.

If your licence has been disqualified, suspended, or revoked and you wish to appeal the decision, you should hire a qualified lawyer for help.

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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