The Firearms Act defines “transfer” to mean sell, barter, or give. Accordingly, disposition of even a non-registered firearm will involve a “transfer” and will be subject to the applicable laws and regulations.
The first thing an executor needs to know is that in Canada a firearm may be transferred to:
- a person who is 18 or older;
- an organization with a Firearms Business License; and
- a public service agency (such as the RCMP).
While transfer of a non-restricted firearm does not require any registered paperwork it is important to remember these rules apply to all firearms and not only those which are classified as restricted or prohibited. If a firearm is bequeathed to a beneficiary who is not yet 18 the executor will need to carefully consider the laws regarding storing firearms to ensure the firearm is kept securely and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. See my post about “Storage of Firearms in an Estate” for more information.
Assuming the recipient of the firearm is a person who is 18 or older, the executor must ensure that the recipient possess a license which permits the acquisition and possession of that particular classification of firearm. Further, the executor must also have no reason to believe that the recipient is not allowed to acquire and possession the firearm. A prudent executor would call the office of the Chief Firearms Officer (“CFO”) of British Columbia; section 23 of the Firearms Act requires their office to inform the executor whether a potential recipient holds the necessary license.
When dealing with a restricted or prohibited firearm the next step in the process is for the executor to inform the office of the CFO that the particular firearm is to be transferred to the recipient and await confirmation from the CFO that the transfer is permitted. Subsequently the CFO’s office will provide transfer paperwork and then the firearm can be physically provided to the recipient. The current legislation permits a firearm to be shipped to the recipient via courier.