American Tourists Keep Trying to Sneak Their Guns into Canada

Annual reminder that Canada has different gun laws.

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Aug 8 2017, 7:40pm

Image via Wikipedia Commons | Sabata, 1969.

It's been a year since the Canadian Border Services Agency launched a campaign asking American gun owners to leave their firearms at home, but one federal prosecutor said the message isn't sinking in.

Peter Thorn, a lawyer from Hampton, New Brunswick, told the Canadian Press Americans continue to sneak their guns into Canada with "alarming frequency during the summer months."

Thorn's comments come in light of six incidents in which US travelers heading north were caught with guns at the New Brunswick border. Most were handed down fines in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, Thorn said.

Gun seizures at the border have increased over the last few years, with 671 guns seized in 2015 and 413 seized in the first half of 2016. VICE has reached out to the CBSA for updated statistics but has not yet heard back.

Firearms laws in the two countries differ greatly. Canada has a nationally regulated system under which every gun owner must undergo a safety course, background check, and obtain a license. In the US, laws vary from state to state—in some states, such as Arizona, no permit is required to carry a concealed weapon in public.

Last August, the CBSA sent out a press release that said, "Canadian laws are different than US ones." Some of the penalties for getting caught bringing guns across the border include: being arrested, having your vehicle seized, and having your guns destroyed. You can also get banned from entering Canada.

"The CBSA strongly recommends that travelers not carry their firearms when traveling to Canada or transiting through Canada to Alaska," the agency's website states. But should you travel with firearms, have the right paperwork and declare your guns at the border.

Thorn told the Canadian Press he thinks part of the problem is Americans never hear about the people who get caught and punished for bringing their guns into Canada.

"Unfortunately, whereas the offenders reside in the US, it is highly unlikely that the sentencing message will ever reach those who could take heed or notice of the message," he said.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

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