While the 24 hours following the initial news that the Canadian Firearms Program had issued an internal document indicating all 10+ round Ruger 10/22 magazine prohibited was relatively quiet, with no new documentation nor statements made available, Calibre has been made aware that a memo has been circulated to police departments nationwide this morning advising officers of the following:
“Prohibited 10/22 Platform Magazines
This concerns the classification of 22 Long Rifle (22LR) calibre cartridge magazines designed or manufactured for Ruger 10/22 rifles, Charger pistols and related firearms, commonly referred to as the “10/22 platform”.
The Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) has responded to numerous queries from individuals and firearms businesses concerning the classification of magazines designed or manufactured for Ruger brand 10/22 rifles and Charger pistols, plus clones of such firearms made by other manufacturers. The overall issue was that any 10/22 platform magazine which exceeded ten shots capacity was a prohibited device. This information was also well circulated on Canadian online forums specializing in firearms issues. The CFP specifically addressed one of the more common overcapacity 10/22 platform magazines, the Ruger BX-25 magazine, which contains 25 cartridges and is described by Ruger as being manufactured for both the Ruger 10/22 rifle series and 22 Charger pistol series, identifying the BX-25 magazine as a prohibited device (CFP Bulletin 72, 2013-09-05).
Additionally, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) decided that a similar magazine, the Ruger BX-25×2 magazine (50 shots), was a prohibited device (AP-2013-059).
Magazines up to 110 shot capacity are available. Although the 22LR cartridge is less powerful than most, it is nonetheless lethal, and combined with high capacity magazines, presents a public safety hazard and an officer safety concern when responding to incidents involving these magazines.
Notwithstanding the steps taken to inform the Canadian public and firearms businesses, it appears that prohibited 10/22 platform magazines continue to be imported into Canada and sold by unqualified businesses and individuals.
In short, 10/22 platform magazines are designed and/or manufactured for both rifles and handguns. While rimfire calibre rifle magazines are not regulated, the capacity of handgun magazines is universally limited to ten cartridges, and in consequence, 10/22 platform magazines are prohibited devices if the ten shot limit is exceeded. Whether the magazine is intended by the importer to be used in a rifle is not relevant to the classification determination.
All 22 Long Rifle calibre magazines for the 10/22 platform, regardless of brand, are prohibited devices at any capacity exceeding ten shots. The ten shot limit applies irrespective of the type of firearm it is used in. Magazines exceeding ten shots capacity are not prohibited devices if reduced in capacity to ten shots or less by pinning or by other means described in the magazine regulations.
CFP will continue to distribute the information to law enforcement (CACP, CROPS, NWEST, Public Safety Canada), businesses and clients (through CFO’s offices) concerning the classification of those magazines.”
The Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, representing Canadian firearms distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, and media (including this publication), held an emergency meeting to address the issue. Calibre has been informed that legal representation was present during this meeting, and that the CSAAA’s legal team is exploring all avenues and options available to both industry members and consumers that may be affected by the RCMP’s statements. The CSAAA released the following statement:
“We have confirmed the RCMP has internally instructed CFOs and law enforcement that any 10/22 high capacity magazine (any magazine not limited to 10 rounds) is considered prohibited. No new bulletin has been issued, the RCMP states this is based on the original Bulletin No. 72 dated March, 2011 and updated September 2013. They are claiming this is simply enforcement of an existing regulation.
The CSAAA Board met this afternoon to consider options, an announcement will be coming shortly.
In the meantime, as a result of the current controversy, the CSAAA advises wholesalers, distributors and retailers with current inventory of 10/22 high capacity magazines to cease any trade or transfers of this product until further advised. Retailers should remove them from store shelves and websites. We do not recommend destroying, returning or “turning in” this product to anyone at this time until further clarification is received.
Retailers are advised to tell their customers who currently own any of these magazines not to transfer, trade, or “turn in” these magazines at this time. Nor should they attempt to modify or “pin” the magazines themselves. Consumers should keep the products safely stored where they are and await further instructions.”
What does this all mean?
Astute Calibre readers will recall that much of this scenario closely mimics the situation that arose months ago involving similar overtures from the Canadian Firearms Program staff interpreting .50 Beowulf magazines as prohibited devices. In that situation, public outcry and political pressures resulted in the firearms program cancelling a planned bulletin release, and pulling back from their position that possession of a .50 Beowulf magazine be formally prohibited.
However, while possession of a .50 Beowulf magazine is unlikely to result in criminal charges, the steps made by the RCMP towards the prohibition of those magazines was enough to place the import of the magazines in some form of as-yet unexplained grey area. As a result, importers have had inbound shipments of American-made .50 Beowulf magazines denied entry into Canada; turning the shipments around at the border.
But with the notice served to police departments this morning, the situation surrounding 10/22 magazines obviously represents yet another step forward by the RCMP; a step beyond de facto prohibition through undeclared importation bans, such as we saw with .50 Beowulf magazines. This evolution, and the recurrent theme of “dual-use” magazines being the targets of these statements and releases, fits with the Firearms Program’s well-known agenda of reducing magazine capacities through creative interpretation of the regulations.
So just what do the regulations, canonized in law, stipulate? Well for those we must turn to 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 (SOR/98-462). The title of the document gives a clear insight into its “clear, concise” nature.
Within what we will now simply call “the regulations,” the sections pursuant to general magazine capacity are as follows, with the particular sections speaking to the legality of 10+ round 10/22 magazines highlighted:
Section 3: (1) Any cartridge magazine
(a) that is capable of containing more than five cartridges of the type for which the magazine was originally designed and that is designed or manufactured for use in
(i) a semi-automatic handgun that is not commonly available in Canada,
(ii) a semi-automatic firearm other than a semi-automatic handgun,
(iii) an automatic firearm whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger,
(iv) the firearms of the designs commonly known as the Ingram M10 and M11 pistols, and any variants or modified versions of them, including the Cobray M10 and M11 pistols, the RPB M10, M11 and SM11 pistols and the SWD M10, M11, SM10 and SM11 pistols,
(v) the firearm of the design commonly known as the Partisan Avenger Auto Pistol, and any variant or modified version of it, or
(vi) the firearm of the design commonly known as the UZI pistol, and any variant or modified version of it, including the Micro-UZI pistol; or
(b) that is capable of containing more than 10 cartridges of the type for which the magazine was originally designed and that is designed or manufactured for use in a semi-automatic handgun that is commonly available in Canada.
(2) Paragraph (1)(a) does not include any cartridge magazine that
(a) was originally designed or manufactured for use in a firearm that
(i) is chambered for, or designed to use, rimfire cartridges.
Note that the phrase “for which the magazine was originally designed” refers not to the firearm the magazine was designed for, but rather, the cartridge the magazine was designed for. The latter clause, “that is designed or manufactured for use in” is the clause that actually determines the legal capacity of a magazine.
Also note that the issue is further muddied by subsection two, which limits the scope of paragraph (1)(a) to not include rimfire rifle magazines, but it should be noted that the RCMP’s allegation hinges upon the application of paragraph (1)(b), which is not limited in the regulations in a manner pursuant to the various 10/22 magazines available.
In short, our own (admittedly non-law-degree-equipped) understanding of the situation is that the Canadian Firearms Program is alleging all 10+ round magazines that will fit a 10/22 magazine well were designed or manufactured for pistols; such as the Teck-22 or Ruger Charger. It is an interpretation that would see all Ruger 10/22 magazines are subject to the capacity limits imposed by Section 2, Paragraph (1)(b). Note that this allegation does not require any changes to regulations, but rather represents a change in the application of the regulations, by way of the new alleged definition of 10+ round 10/22 magazines as “pistol,” or “dual-use” magazines.
However, as almost all of these magazines were designed prior to any “10/22 platform” pistol’s existence, and have been manufactured, marketed, and marked “for rifle use only,” the argument to the contrary seems obvious; that the magazines are manufactured and/or designed for use in rifles and, as such, not limited in their capacity.
What can you do?
In the coming days, form letters and statements will be made available to the general public by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association for individuals to circulate to their own MPs and the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. The aim of these letters and statements will be to educate our legislators and community stakeholders about the matter at hand in a manner that is consistent, clear, and concise. We at Calibre will work to make this letter easily accessible to all gun owners.