Citizens buying guns on black market?

My recent posts about guns have generated a lot of interest and discussion in both my blogs — from readers in Canada, the United States and Britain.

I wonder if there are any accurate studies or reports about the numbers of guns obtained illegally by otherwise law-abiding citizens in those countries. I’m not talking about criminals; I’m talking about good, honest people who just couldn’t be bothered with all the red tape involved in acquiring and keeping a gun, so they buy them on the black market.

I’m researching the subject to see if the laws in Canada and Britain — and the U.S. — are driving people to the black market.

If any of my readers can point me to good articles, I will appreciate it . . .


— Jillian

13 thoughts on “Citizens buying guns on black market?

  1. Personally I do not think a “healthy“ black market exits for honest citizens the reality is we have a bunch of people now 50+ who never bothered to license and simply gave up hunting and shooting because of the hassles. I suggest you talk to an estate lawyer and get an idea for the number of cases they have to manage where unlicensed unregistered firearms come up.

    The Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association ( ) is likely a good place to start.

    The NFA ( )and CSSA ( )are also good places to seek information now keep in mind they are very pro gun. While I do not like the CGC ( ) or their point of view a good journalist should look at both sides.

    “The National Firearms Association Estimate of the Number of Firearms and Owners in Canada
    The National Firearms Association has come to conclusion there are approximately 7 million owners with 21 million firearms. Our figures were calculated using three different methods.
    1. There were 1,221,179 restricted firearms in the RCMP registration database FRAS in December 1993. The unrestricted to restricted firearms ratio is at least 20:1. Conservatively that means 24.4 million unrestricted plus 1.2 million restricted firearms. Allowing for errors in the RCMP’s FRAS registration system, we strike off 220,000 registered firearms as non-existent, reducing the total to 21 million firearms with 7 million owners.
    2. The government’s own estimate in December 1976, published as part of its gun control campaign was 6 million owners with 18 million firearms. During hearings on the Campbell bill, officials from the Ministry of Justice testified that the long-term average net annual importation was 190,000 firearms. Therefore, adding 190,000 firearms per year to the 1976 total of 18 million, we get 21.6 million firearms as of December 1993. Subtract 610,000 firearms as an allowance for firearms destroyed, dismantled or worn out and we arrive back at the 21 million figure with 7 million owners.
    3. Restricted firearms ownership increased from 861,000 in December 1984 to 1.22 million in December 1993. This is an increase of 41.7% over nine years. Those figures are solid because they are taken from the Annual Report on the Commissioner of the RCMP. The NFA estimates that the 1976 figure for total firearms owned, 18 million increased to 21 million by 1993, representing a total increase of only 16.6% in 17 years. This, obviously, is a very conservative estimate.
    None of the above estimates include any figures for illegally imported firearms, which are known to have increased sharply each time restrictive, costly, and/or vague legislation has made legal firearm ownership more complicated, expensive and/or more risky.
    Coalition for Gun Control Estimates of the Number of Firearms and Owners in Canada
    You may wonder where the CFGC arrives at their very low estimates of the number of firearms and firearms owners in Canada? The CFGC estimates of 2 million owners with 6 million firearms are based on a telephone poll where an anonymous caller requested information about firearms. This poll is wildly inaccurate because many people will simply not admit to an anonymous voice on the phone that they own firearms and how many they own.
    Interestingly enough, the CFGC numbers agree that the average firearms owner has three firearms, which is a constant in most countries where citizens are free enough to own firearms.” (


      1. I have three questions for you that could easily be an opinion piece.

        What do you think is Canadian gun culture?

        Have you every shot a rifle or pistol?

        What was your last range trip like?

        What is Canadian Gun Culture.


  2. By default in Canada and the UK without a license ownership of a firearm is a crime so by default there are no law-abiding unlicensed firearms owners. Just those who practice civil disobedience.


  3. You won’t find much info because on it because it’s the black market. The only info you can find is about the criminals, like gangs and gun runners network, but that’s because the police is actively investigating them.
    It was estimated that in the late 70s Canadians owned about 20 million firearms not including military or police. The compliance rate of licensing and registration was never very good, so you do the numbers. Now the otherwise law-abiding citizens are not very likely purchasing guns illegally these days, but there’s plenty of them never licensed or registered, and people that have them won’t ever tell you about it.

    There’s an article about Toronto’s illicit market:

    Also about estimating the numbers:


  4. You will find a lot of facts and figures about the whole firearm situation. In fact, you will find whatever solid, authentic sources you need to back up any position you may wish to take. That’s part of the problem.

    Everyone who writes about this topic has an agenda and can easily find ‘reputable and reliable’ sources to cite. The ‘gun issue’ in America has never really been about violence against innocent people; it has always been about perceived rights and, even more, money.

    The arms industry, both military and commercial, is huge and politically powerful.. Whether it be American-made weapons or imported, an incredible amount of money is spent on guns and accessories, mainly by law-abiding citizens. Boys like toys and these toys, along with all the add-ons, can cost a lot!

    American firearm enthusiasts look upon Canada’s much more restrictive gun laws and tremble, knowing that a lot of fellow Americans would love to see those restrictions applied here, and even harsher. The NRA represents the as-close-as-you-can-get-to-the-lunatic-fringe-without-quite-crossing-over-the-line folks who are very apprehensive of any further restrictions upon what they consider to be a basic Constitutional right.

    They’re reasons are legitimate, as any US citizen’s opinion is legitimate, but many other Americans disagree for equally good reasons. People read headlines, get excited, and forget about it a few days later. For now, money rules and the general public would be astonished to see what is available online, through the mail.

    The ‘Black Market’. In the US, that would be backdoor deals among stupid criminals. Stupid because WE have gun shows! Dealers and accessory sellers, everything imaginable that gun people might buy. New, used, buy, sell and trade!

    I was with some friends at a gun show once and one of the guys saw a fellow displaying a pistol for sale (you can sell or buy from anyone). Within the space of a minute (really, 60 seconds) my friend bought a new 9mm automatic from some guy who traveled 130 miles to sell it for $75. No ID, no background check, nada. Private transaction and perfectly legal. Maybe questionable…

    As someone who appreciates firearms for various reasons, this still disturbs me a bit. One part says, “THIS is ‘the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’ at its finest!”

    The other part says, “What! Are we crazy?”

    Our home was the subject of an attempted home invasion a few years ago at 3:30 AM. Three intruders at three different entrances. One was our bedroom door.

    To make a long story short, a double-barreled 12 gauge shotgun and a barking dog drove them off. The police arrived 20 minutes later.

    Self-defense doesn’t mean a police forensic crew finding evidence to convict our intruders, whatever their reasons may have been and whatever they might have done to us.

    Our home is now wired, lit and cam’ed, And armed.

    I don’t know if it’s ‘right’ for folks to buy weapons in defiance of their government’s wishes, but please do remember that one popular interpretation of our 2nd Amendment, tied in with our Declaration of Independence, is that an armed populace is essential to prevent Government tyranny, and that it is the right of the People to resist such tyranny. American Revolution.

    Want to take an interesting trip through the mail order mayhem which, crazy as it may seem, really doesn’t apply to criminal use of firearms? Actually, it’s pretty amazing that we have as little gun violence as we do. A few bad apples out of 320,000,000 can be expected. The US has just about that many guns, too. So obviously most of us manage not to shoot ourselves or loved ones.

    No easy solutions, but disarming in the face of an increasingly dangerous world? Individual choice, perhaps. I know my choice.

    Take a look and weep, or cheer:


    1. I would agree with most of what you wrote and what I do disagree with is so small it is not worth mentioning. I more want to expand on what you said and compare it Canada’s reality.

      To be fair with on-line purchases from a dealer in the US by federal law, when buying from a licensed dealer — in-state or out-of-state, in-person or online — you are subject to a background check. Purchasing from an online retailer triggers a face-to-face meeting with a licensed local gun dealer and a background check that can be completed over the phone. If passed, the documentation is sent to the online seller who ships the order to the local dealer, where buyers pick up their purchases.

      So at some point you have to meet a dealer face to face for a firearm purchase.


      In Canada I can order any firearm legal to buy in Canada from many different resellers, but our reality with licensing and registration is vastly different than yours.

      As a matter of fact I would say it is easier for me to order on-line than you. I never have to meet a person face to face and the item can be shipped directly to my home. If there is an upside to registration and licensing when the dealer checks with the government they confirm my eligibility and address therefore the need for a face to face to confirm ID and such is moot. Now if the shipping address is different than the license address that needs to be explained.

      As to accessories no license or background check is needed just like you.

      As to background checks I would say most people don’t see an issue with them on either side of discussion in principle the real issue is the details along with the effectiveness and completeness of the data used to complete the checks. When the NRA talks about background checks they mean something vastly different than when the Brady Campaign talks about background checks. And when a “common sense” firearms bill comes up it is never balanced it is always slanted hugely either pro or anti firearm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will agree with you, too, Peter. As you say, in the US mail order weapons must be picked up at a dealer, which is not difficult. It’s also relatively easy to acquire a dealer’s licence.

        However, once someone properly acquires that weapon, they can legally resell it without documentation to another private party, breaking the chain of responsibility.

        But the main point I was making is that the portion of our population vehemently opposed to firearms is largely unaware of the real range range of choices of weaponry and how easily available they are.

        I doubt it would comfort them to know that only a small fraction of those guns are ever put to ill use; only when they are is it deemed newsworthy.


      2. I have thought about what goes threw the head of a hard-core anti-firearm people, but I have never been able to really understand them.

        Although I firmly believe there stance is motivated by emotion and in my experience any fact they try to use is always cherry picked or taken out of context.

        Fact plays very little into there world view on firearms.


  5. In Britain it is illegal for certain weapons and a license must be obtained for other firearms…. its far easier to get a cross bow and its still legal ::-)

    What we are seeing is not a sudden rush to law breakers…. however a certain requirement for protection exists and our government is letting us down !!!


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