What needs to be done if you have inherited a firearm?

In most homes, firearms and weapons are not the usual item laying around the home… thankfully!  It can be a stressful situation if you do not know what to do with it.

Whether the inheritance is from a deceased loved one of from a family member that has been moved permanently to an assisted living facility, as the executor of the persons estate, you and/or the heir willed to, are legally responsible for that firearm.

According to the RCMP Firearms Program, if the heir does not want this firearm, the estate must choose one of the following options:

sample firearms licencesample firearm registration certificate
  • sell or give the firearm to any individual, museum, or business with a license through official transfer process
  • export it to a country that allows it.  **must contact Global Affairs Canada (1-800-267-8376).
  • have the firearm permanently deactivated by a gunsmith so it no longer meets the definition of a firearm from the requirements of The Firearms Act*.
  • surrender the firearm to a police officer of a firearms officer for disposal (this would be the Niagara Regional Police Firearms Unit if you live in the Niagara Region).  These authorities must be contacted beforehand.
If the deceased owner had a firearms licence, it should be returned…
RCMP Canadian Firearms Program

If the owner had a firearms license, it should be returned, along with a copy of the death certificate to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Firearms Centre.  For sending address information, call 1-800-731-4000 or go to www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca, under “Inherited Firearms” for more information.

Please keep in mind that if the owner did not have a firearms possession license and a registration certificate for their firearm, they were in illegal possession of the firearm.  To avoid any legal penalties, the executor of the estate must contact the RCMP as soon as possible to notify them of this situation.  Moreover, if the situation is that these documents simply could not be found, don’t worry, just make them aware so they can instruct you on what to do next.

For residents of the Niagara Region, if you have further questions, or wish to surrender a firearm, the Niagara Regional Police has a Firearms Unit that will be able to assist you.  Their number is 905-688-4111, Ext 3358, or Ext 3359.  Their website is www.niagarapolice.caPlease note that property returns regarding seized firearms are by appointment only.

*the Firearms Act, introduced in 1995, was the centrepiece of the gun control scheme enacted through Bill C-68.  It replaced the former FAC (firearms acquisition certificate) with a bona fide licensing scheme, through PALs (Possession and Acquisition License) and POLs (Possession Only License, discontinued in 2001).