Canada's Silencer Laws

By Claire Gillespie - Updated March 16, 2018

Silencers have been unlawful in Canada since 1900, and it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon. A 2017 petition to the Canadian government, requesting permission for the ownership and use of sound moderators by licensed Canadian gun owners for lawful hunting and shooting activities was not granted. The government rejected the petition on the grounds of public safety, stating that any device that muffles the noise of a firearm can make it harder for the public and for law enforcement officers to respond appropriately to gun violence.

Tip

Sound moderators, commonly known as suppressors or silencers, for firearms are prohibited in Canada, although you can own and transport them in some cases, for example, if you have grandfathered privileges or own a transportation business and have the correct carrier license.

Purpose of Silencers

Despite its name, a silencer does not completely silence the noise of a firearm, but only muffles the sound. Supporters of silencers claim that this is beneficial to shooters as they don't have to wear bulky, heavy ear protection. However, the Canadian Minister of Justice encourages firearms owners to use other forms of widely available hearing protection that do not affect public safety.

Definition of Prohibited Devices

Under Canadian law, a prohibited device is any device designed or intended to muffle or stop the sound or report of a firearm. This means a silencer cannot be used in Canada for any purpose. However, in some cases you can own and transport a silencer if you meet certain requirements.

Grandfathered Privileges

Under the Firearms Act, certain persons who had a prohibited firearm registered in their name before it was made unlawful, and have continuously held a valid registration certificate for that type of firearm from December 1, 1998 onward are considered "grandfathered" under the law. Obviously most people who were alive when silencers were first prohibited in the early 1900s are not alive today, but the law allows for a spouse, common-law partner, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the original owner to possess the prohibited device.

Transporting a Silencer

If you have a transportation business and need to transport silencers, firearms, prohibited weapons, prohibited ammunition and other prohibited devices anywhere within Canada or across Canadian borders in the course of business, you must apply for a carrier license. The completed application, plus the required fee, must be sent to the Canadian Firearms Registry in Ottawa. The license is valid for three years.

About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

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