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So, what’s the deal: Are 10 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns now illegal in Canada? Edmonton-based lawyer Ian Runkle is here to break down his thoughts on the issue, if you’ve got some time to spare (video runs below).

First, remember the background to this story. On May 1, 2020, Justin Trudeau announced the federal government’s latest gun regulations, with a particular focus on semi-automatic sport and hunting rifles, like the AR-15. There were several other regulatory changes in the Order-In-Council, including a ban on firearms with a bore more than 20mm, and a ban on firearms “capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 Joules.

Both those changes are concerning for shotgun owners, as some highly specialized 12 gauge ammunition supposedly has a muzzle energy exceeding that limit, and some 10 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns may also have a bore more than 20mm, depending how and where you measure the bore. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has repeatedly told the public and parliament that the new rules aren’t targeted at sporting shotguns, duck hunters have nothing to worry about, and so on. The RCMP firearms website echoes that statement.

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Is that correct? As Runkle points out in this video, it’s not so cut-and-dry as Blair wants people to believe.


This whole video is well worth watching, if you want a detailed breakdown of the issue, but in a nutshell it comes down to this: It doesn’t matter what Blair or the RCMP say the law means. From a legal standpoint, all that matters is what the law actually says, how all law enforcement agencies (not just the RCMP) apply the law in practice, and most of all, how the courts interpret the law. The language in the updated regulations is currently unclear, says Runkle. Even if Blair and the RCMP are saying one thing now, their answer may not hold any legal weight down the road.

For more of Runkle’s thoughts on this issue and other firearms legal matters, see his Facebook page here.