Question Period Note: Comprehensive Prohibition of Assault-Style Firearms


Reference number:
Date received:
Dec 14, 2022
Public Safety Canada
Name of Minister:
Mendicino, Marco (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Public Safety

Suggested Response:

• Our Government is committed to taking all measures necessary to keep our communities safe from gun violence.

• Bill C-21 aims to enhance public safety through targeted and effective firearms control building on our previous actions and investments.

• Since its introduction, we have made it clear that we were going to take additional action to ensure a comprehensive and complete prohibition of assault-style firearms.

• We know the presence of a firearm in a household increases the risk of death in instances of intimate partner violence by five-times.

• We are not targeting hunters and those who use firearms to sustain themselves or their families. We are targeting firearms with sustained rapid-fire capability that can inflict significant harm to Canadians.

• This is why our government has introduced this Bill to take action through a whole-of-society approach to protect these vulnerable populations.
If Pressed

• We recognize that the proposed changes may reduce the number of firearms that some hunters use today, however over 19,000 non-restricted semi-automatic rifles and shotguns would remain available for Canadians to use.

• Our Government will continue to work to find the right balance for this Bill, and we are willing to work together to further enhance and ensure passage of a Bill we feel will make Canadians safer as result.

• This measure is part of our Government’s broader firearms approach that aims to reduce access to firearms not reasonable for civilian use, prevent firearm-related deaths in cases of family violence and self-harm and stopping illegal firearms from moving into and through our country.


On May 1, 2020, the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited, Restricted or Non-Restricted were amended to reclassify as prohibited approximately 1,500 models of firearms and their variants. Of those, nine principal models of assault-style firearms are prohibited as they have semi-automatic action with sustained rapid-fire capability (tactical military design with large magazine capacity), are of modern design, and are present in large volumes in the Canadian market. Also included are two categories of firearms that exceed safe civilian use: firearms with 20 mm bore or greater, or with a muzzle energy of greater than 10,000 Joules. In addition, the upper receivers of M16, AR-10, AR-15 and M4 pattern firearms have been prescribed as prohibited devices.
The Government decided that these newly prohibited firearms and components are not reasonable for hunting or sport shooting purposes given the inherent danger that they pose to public safety. An Amnesty Order is in effect until October 30, 2023, which protects affected individuals from criminal liability for illegal possession of a now prohibited firearm in order to afford the individuals with time to dispose of the firearms.
Bill C-21
On May 30, 2022, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-21: An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms). Bill C-21 proposes to strengthen gun control in Canada and keep Canadians safe by placing significant restrictions on guns used by criminals and introducing measures to target criminal activity. The Bill would enact controls over certain firearms and their components, enable law enforcement to impose stronger authorities to target gun trafficking and use in crimes in Canada and at the border, and give tools to Canadians to protect themselves and others from firearms violence. It would implement limitations on replica firearms, including a ban on the importation and transfer of any new replicas. The Bill is currently being reviewed by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU).
On November 22, 2022, the SECU began the clause-by-clause review of the Bill after hearing testimony from a wide range of stakeholders. During this meeting, proposed amendments to the Bill were introduced that would amend section 84(1) of the Criminal Code to include definitions for “prohibited order”, “firearm part”, “semiautomatic” and “bore diameter”.
The definition of “prohibited firearm” in the Criminal Code includes physical characteristics of a prohibited firearm (such as automatic firearms). The definition also includes a prescription power that authorizes the Governor in Council to prohibit firearms by make and model by regulations. The proposed amendments to the “prohibited firearm” definition includes changes that will:
• Codify the May 1, 2020 Order in Council criteria for firearms capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy exceeding 10 kJ;
• Codify the May 1, 2020 Order in Council criteria for firearms with a bore diameter of 20 mm or greater;
• Create an evergreen definition to automatically prohibit firearms; and
• Codify a list of firearms already prohibited by Regulations into a schedule in the Criminal Code and prohibit additional assault-style firearms to complete the May 1, 2020 prohibition.
These proposed amendments are aligned with the Government’s commitment after Bill C-21 was introduced, to ensure a comprehensive ban on assault firearms in the legislation and ensure assault style firearms are automatically prohibited when they enter the market.

Additional Information: