1. Air guns that are firearms for purposes of both the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code
These are air guns with both a high muzzle velocity (greater than 152.4 metres or 500 feet per second) and a high muzzle energy (greater than 5.7 joules or 4.2 foot-pounds). The "muzzle velocity" is the speed of a projectile at the instant it leaves the muzzle of a gun, normally expressed in metres per second or feet per second. The "muzzle energy" is the energy of a projectile at the instant it leaves the muzzle of a gun, expressed in joules or foot-pounds. Air guns need to meet both standards to be classified as firearms for purposes of the Firearms Act.
These high-powered air guns are subject to the same licence and registration requirements as a conventional firearm. Owners and users are also required to store, transport, display and handle them safely in accordance with the regulations supporting the Firearms Act.
Usually, the manufacturer's specifications are used to determine what muzzle velocity and muzzle energy an air gun was designed to have. This information may be available in the user's manual or on the manufacturer's website. If the information is not available, individuals can call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) at 1-800-731-4000 and ask to speak to a firearm technician to find out if the air gun is considered to be a firearm for purposes of the Firearms Act.
High-powered air rifles are generally classified as non-restricted firearms. However, the classification depends on the exact design of the air gun. Air rifles manufactured to resemble an assault rifle could be non-restricted, restricted or prohibited depending on the exact model imitated. High-powered air rifles would also be prohibited firearms if fully automatic or if they have a sawed-off barrel. They could also be restricted firearms if they have a folding stock that reduces the overall length to less than 660mm. 2. Air guns that meet the Criminal Code definition of a firearm, but are deemed not to be firearms for certain purposes of the Firearms Act and Criminal Code
These are air guns with a maximum muzzle velocity of 152.4 metres or 500 feet per second and/or a maximum muzzle energy of 5.7 joules or 4.2 foot-pounds. Such air guns are exempt from licensing, registration, and other requirements under the Firearms Act, and from penalties set out in the Criminal Code for possessing a firearm without a valid licence or registration certificate.
However, they are considered to be firearms under the Criminal Code if they are used to commit a crime. Anyone who uses such an air gun to commit a crime faces the same penalties as someone who uses a regular firearm.
The simple possession, acquisition and use of these air guns for lawful purposes are regulated more by provincial and municipal laws and by-laws than by federal law. For example, some provinces may have set a minimum age for acquiring such an air gun. For more information, please contact your local or provincial authorities.
These air guns are exempt from the specific safe storage, transportation and handling requirements set out in the regulations supporting the Firearms Act. However, the Criminal Code requires that reasonable precautions be taken to use, carry, handle, store, transport and ship them in a safe and secure manner.