Aiming For Safety By Targeting Guns | Toronto Criminal Lawyers
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Canada’s Criminal Code

The Liberal Party has just announced that they will spend 250 million dollars on gun control and crime!

A 17-year-old was killed in a mass shooting on Saturday, August 14th. 5 other people were seriously injured. The shooting took place in Mississauga. Four of the victims were children. The  victims were a 13-year-old, a 16-year-old, two other 17-year-olds and a woman in her 50s. The victims came from different areas of the building and park in which the shootings took place. The police told CTV News’ Bryann Aguilar that it was too early to know whether the shooting was targeted or gang-related. Preliminary information points to multiple suspects armed with semi-automatics. The mass shooting took place on Darcel Avenue, in the area of Morning Star Drive and Goreway Drive.


You can rest assured that there will be a strong push to elevate police enforcement of violent gun crimes.  We are predicting that, although many of the mandatory minimum sentences with respect to gun crimes have been held unconstitutional, the sentences will increase and the ability to get bail on gun charges will be difficult. 

 In this article we will take a look at Criminal Code to see what firearms offences there are. Afterwards, we’ll discuss two potentially relevant categories of offences and the sentences that go with them.

Firearms and weapons offences are in Part 3 of the Criminal Code. Part 3 is broken up into 11 headings. Each heading contains different sorts of offences and rules. Firearms offences are incredibly serious matters. Conviction of a firearms offence can lead to a person losing the right to own a firearm and depending on the circumstances can result in jail sentences.  In fact many firearms offences also carry ‘mandatory minimums many of which as mentioned above have been held to be unconstitutional. Those provisions and the issue of mandatory minimum sentences will be discussed in a later article. If you’re charged with a firearms offence, it’s crucial to have a knowledgable, and experienced lawyer who can explain the effect of the different sections, and guide you through this complex and severe area of law.  Although the law is already very strict as it relates to firearms, with the marked increase in gun violence the seriousness and enforcement of gun crime will become more intense.

Six of the Part 3 headings deal with offences. The remaining headings deal with other rules relating to firearm offences. These include, for example, “Prohibition Orders”, which requires the Court to ban people from owning firearms or other weapons in certain circumstances. The 6 different types of firearms offences in Canada are:

  1. Use Offences
  2. Possession Offences
  3. Trafficking Offences
  4. Assembling
  5. Export and Import Offences
  6. Offences Relating to Lost, Destroyed, or Defaced Weapons

We’ll talk about ‘use offences’ and ‘possession offences’, as well the sentences for each offence. We’ll discuss other offences in later articles, because this is such a large area of law. Crimes involving firearms are treated extremely seriously. They can lead up to life imprisonment.  That’s not to say there is no flexibility in the law. Some offences are punishable by summary conviction. The easiest way to explain the difference to between an offence by way of summary conviction as to opposed to indictment is to compare to the American system where there are misdemeanors and felony offences.  The summary (misdomeanor) offence are subject to lower sentences. Having an experienced, knowledgable lawyer, with expertise in the offence you’re dealing with is key to navigating the system. Having a lawyer will help you get a fair deal – even in an area as stern and as difficult as firearms offences. The law has some flexibility, but fully engaging it can require expert knowledge.

“Use offences” include using a firearm in the commission of an offence. This is on the high end of the serious firearm offences and can demand a long prison sentence.  Use offences also include ‘careless use of a firearm’, which is a charge brought when a person uses, carries, handles, ships, transports, or stores a firearm or certain other things carelessly. Even this, seemingly minor, offence can carry a prison term of up to 2 years for a first offence, or up to 5 years for a second or subsequent offence. The last of the ‘use offences’ is ‘pointing a firearm’. Pointing a firearm can get you a maximum prison term of 5 years whether ammunition is involved or not.

As for ‘possession offences’, there are 11 different offences listed. The offences and their maximum sentences are:

  1. Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, up to 10 years imprisonment
  2. Carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting, punishable on summary conviction
  3. Carrying a concealed weapon, up to 5 years imprisonment
  4. Unauthorized possession of a firearm, up to 5 years
  5. Possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, up to 10 years imprisonment for a first offence (and mandatory minimums for second or later offences)
  6. Possession at an unauthorized place, up to 5 years imprisonment
  7. Unauthorized possession in a motor vehicle, up to 10 years imprisonment
  8. Possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, up to 10 years imprisonment, and subject to mandatory minimums
  9. Possession of a weapon obtained by the commission of an offence, punishable with up to 10 years in prison
  10. Breaking and entering to steal a firearm is punishable by up to life imprisonment.

We anticipate that the range of sentences will increase in the future as whatever government that gets elected will respond to the public’s demand for safety and a stop to gun violence.,

11. Robbery to steal a firearm which is also punishable by imprisonment for life

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