Allow me to introduce you to a young professional woman. Her name is Jennifer Gadbois and she is a Managing Director at the CSAAA (Canadian Sporting Arms & Ammunition Association) Canada’s hunting and firearm industry organization. She is also one of the over 2.3 million licensed gun owners in Canada. She safely and responsibly owns multiple shotguns, rifles and handguns for hunting, livestock and crop protection and competition.
As for me, I’m a father, grandfather of 3, a professional, partner in 2 businesses, founding director of an orchestra (classical music) and volunteer of 33 years at a children’s hospital. I am also a target shooter since the age of 8, and a small game hunter.
Gun owners come in all shapes and sizes.
Most don’t know what it truly means to be a licensed firearm owner in Canada. The gun laws, culture and community in Canada is very unique. Before anyone can legally purchase and own a gun, they have to undergo training, pass written and practical testing, advanced screening and in-depth reference and background checks. They have to complete the Canadian Firearm Safety Course and apply for a gun license (known as a Possession and Acquisition License, or PAL). An application to the RCMP along with two pieces of government ID, two references, a recent photo and photo guarantor, the contact information for your conjugal partner and the contact information for any former partner are also needed. This in-depth screening process is done to ensure a PAL is only granted to vetted citizens proven the safest to own guns.
After all of that, they will finally receive their PAL. The wait period could be eight-months to over a year for the PAL to be processed. After the initial screening, daily checks of police and court databases occur to determine if any new criminal offenders are identified. If a name appears in these daily checks, an automatic notification is sent to the Chief Firearms Officer, who may act by revoking the license and removing any firearms.
Just because a person has a PAL doesn’t mean he or she can just walk into a store and simply buy a gun, however. A request must be submitted for approval through the Canadian Firearms Program to approve any sale or transaction. If one gets an approval to purchase a gun, a reference number will be granted for Non-Restricted firearm sales (such as shotguns and rifles) or a registration certificate for Restricted firearms (such as some sporting rifles or handguns, before legal handgun sales were prohibited in 2022).
Before a person can hunt, he or she had to complete additional training, testing and licensing. If a person is interested in Competitive shooting, they have to complete additional extensive training and testing to become Black Badge Certified to compete in one of the safest and most regulated sports, of sport shooting. All individuals are obligated to practice and compete on a regular basis in order to keep this certification and ability to participate.
Persons from all walks of life dedicated a lot of time and money to becoming a licensed firearm owner, and to follow strict and ever-changing laws and regulations closely so they can continue to enjoy this way of life. Per law, all ammunition is stored separately from the firearms. All firearms are stored securely and unloaded. All non-restricted firearms are either trigger-locked (to make them inoperable) or stored in a secure, locked cabinet. All handguns are trigger locked and locked in a secure cabinet. Persons with a restricted license may only use handguns for sporting and target practice at an RCMP-approved shooting range that must follow its own strict rules and regulations.
The firearm community in Canada is diverse, and the culture is wonderful and unique. Hunters and sport shooters are the most universally welcoming, responsible, and safe demographic that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We are proud of who we are and what we represent. Safety is always the number one priority, and we will always welcome and encourage anyone to learn and experience our sport and passion. People really don’t know what they are missing until they experience this for themselves.