On May 1, 2020, the federal government banned more than 1,500 types of firearms and put an amnesty in place until October 2023. When that amnesty expires, otherwise law-abiding Albertans could face jail time under the Criminal Code simply for possessing property they legally purchased.

With Alberta taking back constitutional jurisdiction for handling charges under the Firearms Act, Alberta’s Crown prosecutors will now determine whether or not to pursue charges.

While respecting operational independence on individual cases, the new protocol issued by the attorney general provides prosecutors with guidance on how to evaluate the public interest when determining whether or not to pursue charges. 

“Albertans should not automatically be considered criminals because they own a firearm that was legally purchased and possessed. This new protocol for prosecutors will help prevent otherwise law-abiding individuals from facing criminal charges and potential time in jail. At the same time, law enforcement and prosecution resources can be prioritized for actual violent and repeat offenders while not further clogging our already busy courts.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice

The protocol states that it will not be in the public interest to proceed with prosecuting a charge of a possession of a banned firearm when:

  • The accused lawfully obtained the firearm or prohibited device prior to May 1, 2020.
  • The firearm or prohibited device was reclassified as prohibited on May 1, 2020.
  • The accused has not been charged with any other offences related to the possession or use of that firearm.

“The steps our province is taking around providing guidance for Crown prosecutors will ensure public safety is taken into consideration when assessing whether charges against otherwise law-abiding citizens are appropriate.”

Teri Bryant, chief firearms officer

Quick facts

  • On May 1, 2020, the federal government passed an order-in-council to ban more than 1,500 types of firearms. This ban took effect that same day.
  • An amnesty period allows individuals to possess banned firearms until Oct. 30, 2023. After this date, individuals can face criminal charges for possessing a banned firearm.