Pointing a Firearm - Section 87 of the Criminal Code

An unsafe practice that some just didn't know about

Pointing a firearm is a serious offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, carrying significant legal consequences. This offence is outlined in Section 87 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits the intentional and unauthorized pointing of a firearm at another person. To fully grasp the implications of this offence, it's essential to delve into the specifics outlined in the Criminal Code.

Firstly, it's crucial to understand the context in which pointing a firearm is considered an offence. Transitioning into the legal framework, Section 87 of the Criminal Code explicitly states that it is illegal to point a firearm at another individual without lawful authority. This provision underscores the importance of lawful possession and use of firearms, emphasizing the need for responsible firearm ownership.

Pointing a firearm is found under section 87 of the Criminal Code of Canada:

Pointing a firearm

87 (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded.


(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

What is a Firearm Under the Code?

The Criminal Code defines a firearm broadly, encompassing a wide range of devices designed or adapted to discharge a projectile. This definition includes not only conventional firearms but also airguns, pellet guns, and other similar devices. By casting a wide net, the law aims to ensure that all potentially dangerous weapons are covered under the prohibition against pointing firearms.

Definition of a firearm, section 2 of the Criminal Code

firearm means a barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, and includes any frame or receiver of such a barrelled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm; (arme à feu)

Penalties for Pointing a Firearm

Moving on, it's important to recognize the severity of the offence. The act of pointing a firearm at another person can instill fear and intimidation, posing a significant risk to public safety. As such, the Criminal Code imposes strict penalties for this offence, including potential imprisonment upon conviction. These penalties underscore the gravity with which the legal system treats instances of pointing firearms.

Moreover, the consequences of the offence extend beyond potential legal penalties. Individuals convicted of this offence may face lasting repercussions, including damage to their reputation and future opportunities. Employers, educational institutions, and other entities may view a conviction for pointing a firearm as a red flag, potentially limiting the individual's prospects.

Elements of the Offence of Pointing a Firearm

Transitioning to the elements of the offence, prosecutors must establish certain criteria to secure a conviction for pointing a firearm. Specifically, they must demonstrate that the accused intentionally pointed a firearm at another person without lawful authority. This requirement underscores the importance of proving intent and authorization, distinguishing lawful firearm use from criminal conduct.

Additionally, it's worth noting that the offence is not limited to instances of actual physical harm. Even if no shots are fired and no injuries sustained, the act of pointing a firearm can still constitute a serious offence. This broad interpretation reflects the law's commitment to preventing potential violence and ensuring public safety.


In summary, the offence of pointing a firearm in the Criminal Code of Canada carries significant legal and practical implications. Understanding the context, legal framework, and consequences of this offence is essential for individuals, firearm owners, and the general public. By adhering to the law and promoting responsible firearm use, we can work towards a safer and more secure society for all.

I know nothing of man's rights, or woman's rights; human rights are all that I recognise.
Sarah Grimké, Letter 15 (20 October 1837)