When can the police seize my gun?

By Last Updated: July 26, 2022

If the police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed that involves a firearm, or that a firearm has been used in the commission of an offence, the police have the power to obtain a warrant to search for the weapon and seize it.

In certain exigent circumstances, the police can conduct a warrantless search for a firearm. However, in order for the police to lawfully search for a firearm without a warrant, they must also prove that in the circumstances it would have been impractical for them to take the time to procure a warrant. The police can typically justify this type of warrantless search by establishing that their safety or the safety of the public would have been at risk but for the warrantless search, or that evidence of the offence in question would have been lost or destroyed during the time they were seeking a proper warrant.

The police can also seize your firearm when they can establish reasonable grounds to support the belief that it is not in the interests of public safety for you to have a firearm. This may be the case when they can show that you have handled your firearms in a careless manner, or when they can prove that due to your mental or emotional state it would be unsafe for you to be in possession of a firearm. For example, the police sometimes will be justified in seizing your firearms after you have been charged with a domestic violence offence. In such cases, the police can either obtain a warrant to search and seize your weapon, or can perform a warrantless search and seizure in exigent circumstances.

If your firearm is seized on the grounds that you cannot safely possess it, a hearing will be conducted within 30 days of the seizure where it will be decided whether it is in the interests of the public for you to possess the firearm. If the finding is against you at the hearing, your firearms will be forfeited, your firearms licence, authorization, and registration will be revoked, and you will be subject to a prohibition order for a maximum period of five years.

Further, if upon request you fail to produce your authorization, licence, and registration to hold a firearm, a peace officer may seize your firearm. However, if you can provide the missing documentation within 14 days, your firearm will be returned to you. If not, the peace officer will make an application to the court for permanent forfeiture of your firearm.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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