Guns in Canada (Trailer Park Boys)

So as an American I’m under the impression that Canada is a Land Without Guns. I think I even saw a Canadian poster here say recently “I’m from Canada so I’ve never even SEEN a gun!”

But yet on the show “Trailer Park Boys” they are at no loss for guns. Handguns especially, but I’ve spotted some bigger ones too.

Of course no one can actually hit any targets, and the one dude keeps getting shot but never seriously hurt. But they are in several scenes in every episode I’ve seen so far.

So why does this deliciously Canadian show have a bunch of gun-toting rednecks (and gangstas…and little girls…) if there’s no guns in Canada? Purely a farce?

People have guns in Canada! It’s just not allowed, that’s all.

Certainly there are guns in Canada; they just come from the US! :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, I’m not an expert on this, but I hear that hunting rifles and shotguns are no problem except for a criminal-record check and some other delays. Handguns are more restricted, and you might as well forget a carry permit.

Somebody who knows the details will be along soon, I’m sure.

Oops I meant to specify in my OP that I realize guns are ALLOWED in Canada, I just didn’t realize people kept them at home and shot them off in the middle of the street with such regularity as I see in Trailer Park Boys.

I’m sure this is not the NORM for Canada (as it’s not really for the US - mostly) but it did strike me as odd to see guns such a prominent part of a huge Canadian show since it’s not unusual for Canadians (around the SDMB) to point out how there’s so few guns in Canada.

I don’t think a regular person can keep a gun in the house here, but if you live in a shitty neighbourhood you will eventually see or at least hear guns. I thought Trailer Park Boys was about goofy east coast drug dealers? In Canada, it’s more or less normal for a drug dealer or a gang member to have a gun, but it’s not normal for a middle class family to keep on in the bedside table. And unless I’m woefully ignorant, you’re not allowed to keep one around just in case you one day need to shoot someone. But of course, that doesn’t mean nobody does.

If I’m allowed to have a gun, I would like to know about it.

No, we don’t go around firing them in the streets or into the air on July 1st or anything. But keep them at home? Why not?

Firearm ownership in Canada is around the 20% mark.

I’ll be jiggered!

Canadians have lots of guns, we just don’t use them in the same way as the Americans, i.e. we don’t have the same climate of fear combined with the stupid macho pride that compels one to respond with violence in the face of even a minor sleight (i.e. you dis me and I’ll put a cap in your ass).

In fact, I’m writing this from a military weapons vault which has oodles and oodles of gun, so many that we’re preparing to discard almost 7000 of them; sending them off to the smelter to be recast as something useful, like ice skates or something. Military hardware isn’t sold to civilians, though, nor have I ever heard of a serious demand for such sales to begin.

Further to that, though I’m sure you are aware, Trailer Park Boys is pure farce, a light-hearted look at life at the bottom of the class standings. They have guns because they’re criminals, mostly. Also because the area that they live in is a low-class, run-down trailer park that attracts those sorts of people.

What a great show.

It’s pretty regional. I lived in Montreal for the first 25 years of my life, and never saw a gun, never knew anyone who owned a gun, or anyone who had ever fired a gun unless they were in the military.

When I moved to Vancouver, I met one guy who owned several guns (as did assorted members of his family), and they used them exclusively for target practice at a gun club. He wasn’t allowed to do anything else with them.

I then met a co-worker who actually hunted, but he lived on Vancouver Island, which is pretty hick :wink:

Eastern Canadian (the non-drug dealing, non-gun-waving kind) checking in.

I own 2 guns, a rifle and a shotgun used for hunting. Most people around here own a gun or at least a family member of theirs does, and most folks have probably fired a weapon, plinking away at cans at least. I was kind of surprised by the “I’m Canadian and have never seen a gun” thread too.

I have never actually bought a gun (my Grandfather gave me mine) but all I would need to do to get one is get a FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate). To get the certificate I would need to fill out some forms and pass a hunter’s safety course.

I think you can even get a handgun with a FAC, but I’m not sure. I do know that the laws regarding what you can do with a handgun are far more restrictive than rifles. You need a permit to transport a handgun anywhere in a vehicle for example, even from your home to a firing range. With my rifle, I can drive around all I want, provided it is stored safely and not loaded.

I always thought that Trailer Park Boys was set around Toronto, which was why they had the guns (lots more handguns around Toronto than here). I just learned recently that it was set in the Maritimes.

I may have to start watching the show now!

I don’t own a gun myself but in my personal experience have met a lot of people who have.

In fact I have had 2 Uncles killed by guns, not in the military.

A friend of mine has a Taurus pistol, he shoots it at the firing range. He has his FAC or whatever, that was all he needed. In fact, he bought it from an RCMP officer. He also owns at least 1 rifle and 1 shotgun, which he used for hunting at one point.

I’ve met several other people who owned handguns at some point, and one of the uncles that was killed had several handguns. He hung around with a pretty rough crowd though (hence him no longer being alive).

Hunting rifles and shotguns are quite common - just not in the bigger cities. From the people I know who go hunting they generally own several guns.

I knew a guy who had a semi-automatic rifle, similar to an AR-15 - it is a restricted weapon and according to the law he’s not allowed to even own it, but for some reason they gave him a license for it, so he shoots it at the range as well.

I can see someone living in the city not having seen a gun in their life, but on the praries, interior BC, up North I’d find that very surprising.

I would agree that the distribution of guns in Canada is rural vs urban. My experience has exclusively been in the Prairies, and I would say that most farmers have shotguns and rifles (how else are you going to shoot gophers?); a lot of rural people hunt, too, and have shotguns and rifles for that. I have very rarely seen handguns - pretty much only in the holster on a cop.

Short answer - a lot of Canadians have rifles and shotguns. Not many have handguns.

Exactly. I think that a lot of urban Canadians have exaggerated ideas both about how extensive the gun culture is in the States, and the extent to which Canadians are unarmed.

A lot of the “I’m from Canada, I’ve never seen a gun” posts probably mean “I’m from Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal” and could just as easily be “I’m from Manhattan, San Franciso or Boston” (assuming a good neighbourhood in the city in question, whether Canadian or American).

Firearms in Canada fall under three catagories: Nonristricted, Restricted, and Prohibited.

Nonrestricted are basically long arms (rifles, shotguns), with specific limits on capacity. For a manually operated firearm, you basically can have an unlimited number of rounds in the magazine, for semi-auto centerfire rifles/shotguns, you are restricted to a maximum of 5 rounds. Fully automatic are prohibited. Rimfire rifles have no magazine capacity limits. In order to purchase a firearm in this class you must pass a written and practical handling test and undergo a background check.

Restricted firearms: In short, these refer to handguns. Minimum Barrel length is 105mm (so general 4.1 inch or longer. Magazine capacity for centerfire (and .22?) is 10 rounds, high capacity magazines that are unmodified to prevent loading more are classed as prohibited devices as are barrels (even un assembled onto a gun) under the length restriction. Handguns are permitted for target practice only, unless you are in law enforcement or can show extremely good cause for a carry permit. Handgun hunting is not permitted in Canada.
Again to obtain these youu must pass another written and practical test, background check, as well you must belong to a gun club that will approve of you having an Authorization To Transport (usually requires that you shoot under supervision on at least 8 seperate occasions and that you pass the range’s safety and etiquette courses). Depending on the province, you may not be permitted to purchase a handgun until you have a place willing to let you shoot it.

Prohibited: These are things like fully automatic firearms, handguns with short barrels, pistols chambered in specific calibers, things the government has prohibitted because they’re scary looking, specific replicas, etc, etc. There was a brief kurfuffle about prohibitted calibers when they banned .32, as that is what our national pistol team uses in competition (so the ban was lifted to the extent that you must be a participant in internationally regulated events which prescribe said ammunition). The only way you can own or obtain (prohibitted firearms) is if you owned a firearm of that specific type in Canada before the prohibition came into effect, you are in a position (close relatives only) to inherit a specific (with a number of additional restrictions for this case) firearm. One would also require the restricted licence in order to posess these firearms.

Just as a clarifying example. Say Joe Shmoe owned a pistol chambered in .25 (a prohibitted caliber) before 1994, but the pistol was a target model with a 5 inch barrel. He would be allowed to purchase addition .25 caliber firearms with barrels longer than 105mm. He is only grandfathered in for the caliber, not all classes of prohibited firearms, so he would not be permitted to purchase a compact .25 with a 3 inch barrel. If Joe Shmoe sells off the .25 and no longer has a prohibitted firearm, he will no longer be permitted to obtain prohibitted firearms of that class (he no longer requires the exemption and therefore loses it).

The CFC website given above is a good source for those interested in our firearms laws…


I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and we certainly had guns, and I’ve fired all sorts of weapons ranging from air rifles to shotguns to pistols. Now I live in Calgary and can’t think of a single reason I would need to own a gun.

My dad (who lives in Edmonton) probably owns something in the neighbourhood of 20 guns. He hunts, he shoots skeet, and he shoots targets. All legal.

I’ve never in my life seen someone shoot off a gun just for shits and giggles. Canadians just don’t do that sort of thing.

I watched a big chunk of the first season of this show about a month ago on DVD. There are two things I remember that are relevant here:

  1. In the first episode, the bad guy who has taken over the trailer park while our heros are off in jail essentially rules by virtue of the fact that he has a handgun and nobody else in the park does. Or at least nobody else has the inclination to pull theirs out. At the climax of the first episode the main character disarms the bad guy and keeps his gun, which makes an appearance in many of the remaining episodes. It seemed to me that having a gun was considered to be a big deal, and somewhat unusual.

  2. (Probably more important) In the director’s commentary for one of the early episodes, the director remarks that sometime during shooting a friend of his had come across a huge supply of realistic-looking prop guns. From that point on they would intentionally sprinkle in extra guns even when they weren’t appropriate, just because they thought they were pretty neat.

Great show. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the series.

Dancer_Flight provided an excellent overview, which I was too lazy to type. Thanks, Dancer_Flight.

I recently went through the legal process to obtain a restricted firearm (Handgun) in Canada. First, you have to take a day-long safety class, with written and practical exams. Then you apply for either a possesion only (POL), or a posession & acquisition licence (PAL). Applying for a PAL requires that you submit a picture, references like a passport application, and either the signature of your spouse saying they’re OK with it, or the name and number of the current spouse, and all ex-spouses, including common-law relationships, for the past 5 years iirc (which I thought was a good idea). Screening usually takes a couple of months if you’re lucky. It can take up to a year if they muck-it up, or if an examiner decides their’s anything in your file they find warrants a closer look. None of my references were called, and mine came in 2 & 1/2 months.

Once you decide to puchase a firearm, assuming it’s in stock (which mine still isnt, grumble, grumble) you then have to file papers to have it registered, and if it’s restricted, a permit to transport it between your house and places where you plan to shoot. You will then get a phone call from a live human being asking you just why, exactly, do you want to buy yourself this particular gun. There are only three correct answers: target shooting, hunting/varmint control**, or collecting. Any mention of protection, home defence etc. will get your application to puchase denied, eventhough you have a valid license to purchase.

Regulations on acquiring, storage, or transportation of firearms are primarily designed in Canada to prevent use in any type of shotting-at-people scenario (Including personal and home defense): alll firearms must be stored loccked in some way, unloaded, with ammo stored separately, unless in a safe. Transportation has to be in the trunk / back of a vehicle. Restricted firearms must be in a locked, rigid, case, with a disabling lock.

As if this wasn’t enough, prosecution policy of most jurisdiction is such that just bare minimal compliance with laws & regulations, although it still is compliance, will still likely get you charged with negligent storage / transport, if you are inspected or especially if the firearm is stolen. To avoid getting charged you must prove you go above and beyond the regs. To what extent, if it isn’t to the maximum possible extent you can, is of some uncertainty.

Regarding the carrying of a firearm, only police and armoured car personnel can carry handguns. Civilian concealed carry permits, although they exist in law, are rarer than hen’s teeth. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that fewer than 10 were issued in the last 5 years. People who work in the wilderness where they may encounter dangerous wildlife like bears or courgars, can get a wilderness permit for a handgun if they can demonstrate that their other equiment prevents them from carrying a long-arm, such as a rifle or shotgun.

What I find most ironic about our laws, is that Brink’s guys can carry pistols to defend their cash, but the receptionnist at a battered women’s shelter can’t have a loaded shotgun by her desk… Also non lethal means of self defence such as pepper spray / mace / tazers / telescopic batons are in the same “prohibited” category as fully automatic machine guns. If a woman sprays an assailant in a parking lot, she can be charged with the same offence as if she had fired a burst from a tommy-gun (Automatic weapon favored by 1930’s chicago gangsters).

I hope this is as instructive for my fellow citizens as for Dopers of other nationality.

** Other funny/ironic anecdote: a co-worker of mine who lives in semi-rural Ontario, was once concerned that the neighbors’ rottweiler was acting too aggressively towards their then 3 year old daughter, and enquired about the legalities of shooting said dog if it broke it’s rope and threatened his daughter on his own property (no fence in this case, just a cheap clothes-line rope). He was advised, informally of course, by a member of the provincial constabulary, to buy a live chicken, and tether it in his own back yard. You see, he couldn’t shoot the dog unless it started chewing on his little girl, but he could shoot it if it posed a danger to livestock by acting in a threatening manner. Said neighbor & dog owner was introduced to the new member of the family, Captain chicken, and acquainted with the awsome powers of the new addition. Neighbor then cursed my coworker, and proceeded to erect an 8 foot fence. Captain chicken then made an excellen coq-au-vin.

And could also be “I’m from London or Edinburgh”. The situation being described exactly mirrors what I perceive to be the case in Britain. In my case: ‘apart from illegal weapons in deprived areas and legal ones in the countryside and on armed police, I’ve never seen a gun’. There’s plenty of them out there, both legal and very illegal. But you have to be in a particular place to see them, and so is no different from what’s being described for Canada, and what seems to be the reality for much of America.

One specific situation where I wonder if there’s figures available is numbers of Americans keeping firearms at home specifically for self-defence. In the UK it’s virtually zero (and for legal weapons zero), as is probably the situation in Canada.