Careless Use of a Firearm

Careless use of a Firearm 

The offence of careless use of a firearm is outlined in section 86(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of careless use of a firearm when they use, carry, handle, ship, transport or store a firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without taking reasonable precautions for the safety of others.

The Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations, SOR/98-209 outlines how restricted and unrestricted firearms may be stored, transported, and shipped. These regulations say that an unrestricted firearm is safely stored if it is unloaded, rendered inoperable (trigger-locked), and separate from its required ammunition.

For the purposes of the Criminal Code, the definition of firearm includes items other than a pistol, handgun, or rifle.

Examples

Person A lives in a one-story home with their three young children and stores a loaded .22 Calibre handgun in an unlocked case under their bed.

Person B discharges a rifle into the air, not aiming at anything, during a party in a dense residential neighbourhood.

Person C transports a loaded sawed-off shotgun in the driver’s side door pocket of their car, with it placed muzzle down barrel side up so as to be easily accessible to them and visible to anyone else in the car.

Cases

1. v. Doxtator, 2015 ONCJ 748

In R. v. Doxtator, the accused was convicted of multiple counts of careless use of a firearm after police observed three rifles sitting on a rack and one hanging behind a door in his shack behind his family home. None of the rifles had trigger locks on them, their ammunition was found stored beneath the rack, and the shack, which was not always locked, was accessed frequently by other family members including two children aged eight and ten.

2. v. Marryshow, 2003 CanLII 13555 (ON SC)

In R. v. Marryshow, the accused was charged with one count of careless use of a firearm after a loaded semi-automatic .380 Davis Industries pistol was found under the rear passenger seat of the car, where he was sitting.

3. v. Omar, 2017 ONSC 93

In R. v. Omar, the accused was charged with one count of careless use of a firearm after police noticed the barrel of a gun sticking out of his right pocket while questioning him on the street. The gun was then examined and found to be a fully loaded .32 Calibre handgun with four additional rounds of ammunition found in the accused’s vest pocket.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Standard of Care

If it can be proven that a reasonable person in the position of the accused would not have acted much differently than the accused did here, or that they would not have been aware of the risk or able to avoid creating the danger posed by the firearm in question, then the accused may not be convicted of careless use of a firearm.

Definition of Firearm

If the person is in possession of an object that does not fall under the Criminal Code’s definition of a “firearm” then they have not committed the offence of careless use of a firearm.