A firearm is defined as a barrelled weapon from which a projectile is discharged which is capable of causing serious bodily harm or death to a person. The determination of whether the object in question is in fact capable of causing the requisite level of harm is based on the muzzle velocity of the weapon, and whether a projectile fired from the weapon in question is capable of causing serious bodily harm. This would include the ability to pierce or injure an eye. Given this definition, many objects that are sold to the general public, and do not require any type of license to possess, are, for the purpose of the Criminal Code, firearms. This includes types of pellet guns and paint ball guns.
The charge of Use Firearm does not require that there be an intention to cause an injury to another person. Simply having used the firearm is sufficient. It is therefore possible that a firearm that is legally owned and is used in a fashion where no one meant or expected to injure anyone else, can cause the user to be charged with a very serious offence and be subject to a lengthy period of imprisonment.
Where a firearm is used in the commission of an indictable offence, while attempting to commit an indictable offence or during flight after committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence, a person can be charged with Use Firearm. The nature of the offence in question will determine the length of the jail sentence if there is a conviction.
The Criminal Code lists a number of charges where special consideration is given where a firearm is used in the commission of that offence. These offences include Criminal negligence causing death, manslaughter, attempted murder, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage taking, robbery and extortion. In these specific cases, a finding of guilt would have a minimum sentence of 5 years in jail for a first offence and 7 years in jail for a subsequent offence. In all other cases, the sentences will range from 1 to 14 years for a first offence and 3 to 14 years for a subsequent offence.