Firearms like AR-15 tougher to get on P.E.I.
Public safety director says Canada’s firearms rules much tighter than in U.S.
Weapons like the AR-15 are more difficult to obtain in Canada than in the U.S., according to P.E.I.'s director of public safety.
Purchasing a restricted firearm will require a fairly intrusive investigation into an individual's background, including their neighbours.— Aaron Campbell, P.E.I. director of public safety
"I think the gun culture in Canada is much different than the gun culture in the U.S. from what we see in media and what's reported," said Aaron Campbell.
"The interest in the safety of the public is something that is well-considered under the federal Firearms Act to ensure that communities are safe."
There are 1,297 restricted firearm licences on P.E.I. Weapons in the restricted category include handguns or rifles with shorter barrels.
There are 4,608 licences for non-restricted weapons on P.E.I., which include shotguns and hunting rifles.
Anyone looking to buy a gun in either category in Canada must first take the Canadian Firearms Safety course.
There are additional requirements for those looking to buy a restricted firearm, including a series of questions covering:
- Past criminal activity with violence.
- Past criminal activity with firearms.
- Past drug abuse issues.
- Domestic issues, including whether there's been a separation or divorce in the household within the past five years.
- A history of mental disorder that's required treatment.
- A history of suicide threats or suicide attempts.
While Americans can easily buy a firearm within minutes, Campbell said it takes much longer to buy a restricted weapon in Canada.
"It can take months and I think that is something that individuals should be aware of — that purchasing a restricted firearm will require a fairly intrusive investigation into an individual's background, including their neighbours, their community, depending on what is discovered in their application," said Campbell.
There is a mandatory 28-day waiting period before an applicant receives their licence.
There's also a third class of weapons — prohibited weapons, of which there are 206 licences on P.E.I.
In 1978, fully automatic weapons became classified as prohibited firearms unless they had been registered as a restricted weapon before January 1. No new licences have since been issued and the weapons aren't allowed to be sold in stores.
Gun owners whose licences were grandfathered under Canada's Firearms Act can still buy or sell prohibited guns but only to other gun owners who were also grandfathered.
In 1998, tiny handguns that could easily be concealed were added to the prohibited category.
Licences renewed every 5 years
While Campbell knows that 206 Islanders hold licences for prohibited firearms, he doesn't have a breakdown of the type of guns they own — that information is stored at a national RCMP registry in in Ottawa.
CBC News requested a breakdown from the RCMP but had not yet received the information as of Tuesday afternoon.
"When we inquire into each licence holder then we have the ability to obtain the details of the firearms that would be registered under their respective license," he said.
Those who own prohibited firearms must renew their licences every five years.
"Once the licence expires, then the grandfathering privilege also expires and would require those firearms either to be returned to a police agency, the chief firearms officer, or they may be surrendered to a museum or be destroyed," Campbell said.
- A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the AR-15 is a prohibited weapon. In fact, it is a restricted weapon in Canada.Jun 28, 2016 2:50 PM AT
- A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that an AR-15 was used in the Orlando shooting. In fact, the shooter used a SIG Sauer MCX, a similar weapon.Jun 29, 2016 12:14 PM AT