one handgun too many
December 17, 2010 7:33 PM   Subscribe

How does one officially get rid of a registered handgun in Canada? (asking for a friend)

Friend's dad died recently and it turns out he had an old WW2 handgun (legally registered) stashed away in a trunk. Friend has NO interest in keeping the gun. He just wants to hand it off to the "authorities" as easily as possible. Is it as simple as contacting the local RCMP detachment? Is there a reason not to do this?
posted by philip-random to Law & Government (11 answers total)
Turning it in to the RCMP will be the easiest if he doesn't want to try and sell it to a gun shop. The reason for not doing it would be missing out on whatever money the gun is worth.
posted by Hiding From Goro at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2010

There's no reason not to do this. RCMP want guns off the street as much as anyone else. However, when handing it over, please put the UNLOADED gun in a bag or box, and tell whoever's taking it that there's a FIREARM in there. There might be some paperwork to fill out, but then you're good to go.
posted by Sully at 7:37 PM on December 17, 2010

2 other things

1 maybe get it appraised anyway, just on the off chance you have something valuable

2 maybe call the station ahead of time so they know to expect you + tell you any requirements they might have (as far as packaging, labeling, etc). plus then you wouldn't just be rolling up to a police station with a gun. i know i sure wouldn't do that in the US.
posted by Hiding From Goro at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2010

If there's an attorney handling the estate, the attorney may be able to help with this. I've certainly handled gun transfer issues in wills for clients. It's frankly rather interesting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:48 PM on December 17, 2010

Best answer: If he wants to get rid of it, call the local police detachment. They'll be happy to take care of it.

Is there a reason not to do this?

Absolutely. That gun is an antique. It would be a huge shame to have a piece of history destroyed. Consider getting in touch with an auction house that deals in firearms. They should be able to deal with any necessary paperwork (or tell you how to), and sell it to someone who will appreciate it and take care of it, preserving it for future generations. Just because it's a gun (gasp!) doesn't mean it's of no historical value. Especially if it was actually used in the war. As Indiana Jones might say (if the Nazis were stealing handguns), "It belongs in a collection!"
posted by Dasein at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Any chance you could describe what it is (or what you think it is) so that we can get out of the way whether you're talking about a $5,000 matching Navy Luger or some refinished, reworked (etc) POS that's maybe worth $200?
posted by Hiding From Goro at 7:58 PM on December 17, 2010

I'm not Canadian and am not familiar with their laws and procedures, but Sully's advice sounds similar to what I've heard of people doing in the US when they want to dispose of an inherited firearm.

But at the risk of being overly cautious, I would recommend not walking into the RCMP station with a weapon — even unloaded — and announcing "I have a firearm" as that could be tragically misinterpreted.

Instead, you'd probably be better off leaving it locked in your car (unloaded, of course), discretely mentioning to the officer that "a relative has recently passed and we'd like to dispose of a firearm he left" and then let the officer take it from there.
posted by tomwheeler at 9:33 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used to own a British Army rifle and phoned a military museum about whether they were interested in it or not. I was told they might be. They looked at it but after they saw that it had been altered said no. They were only interested in original condition items. I then took it to the police station ( city), but phoned before I did. They told me to drive there, but leave it in the trunk and in its case if it had one. Also to take the clip out beforehand. I was NOT to bring it into them. They came out and took it away. It was destroyed. No questions asked. I agree with others that it may be a collectors piece.

But I'd make sure it got into the right hands before leaving it with anyone.
posted by Taurid at 10:49 PM on December 17, 2010

I got an old .22 pistol from my dad's stuff when he died, and had no idea whether it was registered. It was kind of crappy and beat up and surely not worth much. I called the local police station (Tucson, AZ; YMMV in Canada) and asked them if they would take it off my hands... and to my surprise they were *really* reluctant. They told me it would necessitate a lot of paperwork on their part, and I could get some money for it at a local pawn shop. Nonetheless, they did take it off my hands.

But for sure let them know you're coming; for obvious reasons you don't want to just walk into the station whipping the thing out. I had called ahead, left it in my car when I got to the station, and one of the officers came out to the car with me to collect it.
posted by holterbarbour at 10:53 PM on December 17, 2010

If your friend does end up selling the gun but has qualms about keeping the money - maybe the money could be donated to a local veteran's organization?
posted by jaimystery at 3:24 AM on December 18, 2010

Best answer: American experience does not apply to Canada in this instance. Merely transporting a handgun in Canada is illegal without a permit. Unless they have been specifically restricted from owning guns the executor of the will generally is considered to have the same rights to possess the handgun as the deceased. Those rights don't allow you to transport the handgun without a permit. If the executor chooses to dispose of the handgun then they should contact the RCMP before moving it.

However if the gun has value handing it over to the police may create legal trouble for the executor unless your friend is the sole heir. My experience is the executor is supposed to maximize the value of the estate; just giving assets away, even to the police, generally goes against that principle.
posted by Mitheral at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

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