Guns into Canada

My father in law, a gun fanatic/2nd amendment supporter (choose your descriptor) plans to drive his RV thru Canada to Alaska. On board, he always carries some serious weaponry for purposes of home protection or some such. Now, he plans to hide the weaponry when he enters Canada, and fail to declare the fact that he is carrying guns. I tend to feel that this is an extremely bad idea, and have urged him to reconsider, as I have heard the penalties in Canada are rather firm as regards this type of behavior, but he is un-dissuaded. He will not consider informing Canadian authorites so that they may seal up said weaponry for his transit thru their nation, as it would leave him without access to his items.

Now, the GQ. Just what are the penalties likely to be if/when he gets caught? Canadian government websites speak of 10 years in prison for this, but what punishment could one expect for this transgression?

Anticipating dragging the wife and
kids to Canada intermittently for
the next few years to visit Papa,

Qadgop the Mercotan

I lost a handgun and my vehicle at the border a few years ago. I wasn’t trying to smuggle it in but forgot it was on my toolbelt.

I was able to recover the vehicle but despite our local sheriff and state congressman’s attempts could not get the Canadian’s to shake loose with the pistol.

They would have imprisoned me had they believed I deliberately hid it.

Tell Papa that if he insists, to take only guns he won’t mind losing and drive them through in an 500.00 car while Mama drives the RV through to continue her vacation without him.

I agree with bare. If your father-in-law values his guns, he may want to change his mind. I know people who “forgot” to declare guns when crossing into Canada, and when they were discovered in a search, all guns were confiscated, and never returned. BTW, handguns of any kind cannot be transported through Canada, even if you declare them.

Bad, bad idea. Last time I crossed over from Washington state, headed for Vancover, they stripped my car from top to bottom ( not sure if it was a random “every twentieth car thing” or my unshaved countenance :smiley: )over the course of half an hour.

If they find an obviously hidden, undeclared weapon, they WILL arrest him. And, as Bare has attested, they will confiscate the whole kit and kaboodle. Now the odds are, he’ll skate on by just fine. But personally, I would never take that risk.

  • Tamerlane

Remind your FIL that Canada does not have a Second Amendment. Canada is not a U.S. Territory. It’s another country. I like firearms for a number of reasons, but I would not even think of taking one into Canada. (Hell, I don’t even carry in Los Angeles.) Same goes for Mexico, where you can be hauled off to prison for possessing a single round of ammuition. If he’s hunting he can probably figure out a plan to have his firearms shipped to Alaska, but as others have said trying to get into Canada with guns is an extremely bad idea.

Border guards are trained to look for people who might be trying to smuggle contraband into the country. Certain things tip them off. Does FIL have an NRA sticker in the rear window of his RV? An NRA ballcap? Does he look like someone who is fond of guns, or like a hunter? How does he act? What would his demeanor be when he is asked, “Do you have any firearms with you?” Sure he could tell them anything and get away with it; but what if he happens to be the random person whose vehicle they decide to search?

Not only could he be arrested and jailed for a long time, but he would also be banned from ever entering Canada again. He’ll probably be banned from entering any number of countries as well, since he’d be a convicted felon.

Now, I’ve said that I am “pro-gun”. But IMO anyone who feels he needs a gun for self protection, unless he is going into combat or otherwise puts himself into harms way, is a coward. If a person transports contraband because “no one’s gonna tell me what to do”, then that person is a criminal. It would be ironic indeed if such a “law’n’order” type as your FIL knowingly became a criminal. Maybe he needs to be told that only a criminal and a coward would attempt what he’s considering?

Your FIL has three choices: First, to go to prison in a foreign country; Second, to not take his guns; or Third, don’t drive through Canada at all.

There’s an old saying: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Canada is not the United States. Canadians have every right to expect visitors to respect their laws as we in the U.S. expect visitors to respect ours.

Thanks for the input, people. Johnny LA you make very salient points, but ones which FIL has ignored from me and others in the past. Perhaps seeing them in print
might affect a change. (perhaps pigs will fly). I suspect he’ll be most inclined to just cancel the trip, rather than modify his behavior. He does not hunt, and target shoots seldom, but feels very insecure without weaponry close at hand for home protection, and subscribes to the assertion that there is a secret organization dedicated to stripping him of both his weapons and the right to own them. AFAIK he has never actually needed weapons for home protection in his 70 years. He is ex-military, so in theory knows how to handle weapons safely.

However, I suspect he will just go ahead with his plan regardless. I am assuming that the weapons and his vehicle would be confiscated if he is discovered. How probable is actual prison time, and for how long?

I read about an American who was encouraged by Canadian border officials to take a gun into Canada. He was a journalist doing a story on grizzly bears and he asked if he could bring a handgun for protection against the bears. The border official said no, handguns aren’t permitted, and besides only a rifle or shotgun will stop a grizzly. In the end he crossed the border with a 30-30, IIRC. All this happened in the late 1980s, so the rules may have changed since then.

Your FIL will not be allowed to cross the border with a handgun, but if he follows the rules (and it doesn’t sound like he will), he may be allowed to cross the border with a long gun.

emphasis in the cited Canadian Law mine. Ok, I’m no betting woman, however, I’d be willing to wager big bucks (to me), that the FIL in this circumstance will yowl or otherwise be upset at the above emphasized provision.

Let me get this straight: The guy hardly ever even practices with the damn things and yet thinks he’s competent?

Hey, I’m ex-military also; however, the last time I fired a weapon (on the qualification range at Fort Ord) was back in 1985 - well before I retired from the military. The difference between your FIL and me is threefold: 1) I’m fully aware that Canada is a foreign country and the US Constitution is not in effect there, 2) I am fully aware that I do not have the requisite marksmanship skills to make it a good idea for me to mess around with a weapon, and 3) I do not look at the world with my anterior inserted into my posterior.

BTW, I have actually seen United States citizens get arrested, tried, convicted and jailed in foreign countries. Yes, a couple of them even used the expression, “But I’m an American!” A couple even told the police, “I got rights*!” The police, obviously, disagreed*.

What’s more, the foreign police were right…according to the laws of the country in which the events occurred.

Please let your father-in-law know that I, at least, would like a recap of his experiences in a Canadian jail when he’s released.

*Actually, the police, and the laws extant in the jurisdictions concerned disagreed as to what those rights actually were.

I hope he enjoys his cavity search.

Actually, under the new firearms act which took effect January 1, 2001, it depends on what he’s packing: if it is merely a restricted (mainly handguns) weapon, he may be able to apply for a permit to carry (Authorisation to Transport: but he’d have to make a pretty airtight case to the Provincial Firearms Officer, and fill out a lot of bumph forms well in advance.

Note also that Tasers and like stun weapons are considered Prohibited weapons in Canada. If hidden weapons are detected at the border (or anywhere else in Canada), if he’s lucky the weapons will just be confiscated. If he’s less lucky, the vehicle will be impounded and (probably) returned–eventually. If he’s unlucky, he could lose weapons, vehicle, and be found guilt of an indictable offense (that’s a felony to you), and jailed for 1-10 years.

You probably won’t change his mind, but bottom line is that it just ain’t worth it–and the liklihood of his needing that kind of “personal protection” is considerably lower in Canada. Besides, what does he think will happen if he kills someone (or a protected Grizzly) in Canada?

I’ll have to remember to mention the body cavity search to him. Perhaps that will dissuade him, as the other info did not as of yet. Thanks all.

I’m Canadian and a news junkie, and I’m always reading about the problem with American tourists trying to cross into Canada with their handguns. It’s a real yawner for Canadian customs officers…it probably seems like every American motorhome has a gun hidden in it. Just let yer old pappy know they are ready for him at the border. They almost certainly won’t jail him (much) but they’ll put him through hell and he will lose his guns forever. We have followed the American example here and are implementing “proceeds of crime” legislation, so he may now stand a good chance of losing his wheels. As soon as he crosses into Canada, possession of an unregistered (in Canada) handgun becomes a serious criminal offense.

Say, Qadgop, what would the license plate number of that RV be?

Forewarned is (ahem) forearmed!


A civic minded Canuck

Qadgop, I’m a Canadian lawyer. I won’t offer any advice on this issue, since the Law Society which regulates me frowns on giving out advice on skimpy facts over the internet to someone I don’t know.

However, I will post some of the provisions of our Criminal Code (federal statute, applying throughout Canada), which you may wish to draw to the attention of your father-in-law. See in particular the importing offence, which carries a minimum punishment of one year (s. 103) You may also wish to point out section 94 to your mother-in-law. It governs the liability of passengers in a car with a firearm.

You didn’t mention what kind of firepower your father-in-law is packing, but a handgun is a “restricted weapon” and a full auto (please God - no) is a “prohibited weapon” - you’ll see references to both in the provisions below.

Good luck.

ack - sorry about the bolding - hit submit instead of preview! they shouldn’t have those buttons so close together!!

Not to start a pissing match, or a long drawn out Second Amendment argument, I’ll just say that I’m glad you live in such a eutopian world, that the only people that feel they might need a gun are cowards. I’m sure the shade of Kitty Genovese feels MUCH better now.

Seems an odd lesson to draw from that incident. If residents had gone downstairs things would have turned out differently. I don’t think it has anything to do with guns (although contra you I suppose people might have been willing to go downstairs if they thought the assailant unarmed).

[sub]And it’s “utopian”, and "utopian world " is tautologous. Aaah.[/sub]

An analogy.

Canada looks at gun smugglers the same way U.S. Customs officials look at marijuana smugglers.

So if you want to get him in trouble, go sneak a doobie into the RV.

Thanks for clearing up the spelling - I knew SOMETHING didn’t quite seem right about that.

That WAS a bad example. My issue was with the ‘cowardice’ assumption. I don’t see carrying a weapon as cowardice, I see it as insurance. Much like people keep fire extinguishers in their cars and kitchens, or carry fire and flood insurance on their houses.

Regardless, this is best kept for a different thread. My apologies for the hijack.

I think you should emphasize the positive aspects of this plan to your father-in-law. For example, Canada is currently building several new prisons, so he probably won’t have to share a cell.

Seriously, if he gets caught, he will definitely lose any firearms and ammunition he has. There’s a good chance he’ll lose the RV (and even if he’s lucky enough not to lose it, it’ll certainly be disassembled to the point where the inspectors are sure there’s no hiding place for anything as samll as a round of ammunition and it will be his responsiblity to reassemble it). The chance of him doing anything more than a day or two in jail is probably remote. But, hey, if he needs a gun to feel secure, that’s the important thing.