Federal liberals have introduced new firearms-control laws that would prohibit the import, sale and transfer of handguns, but would not go as far as banning them outright.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new law, Bill C-21, at a news conference on Monday. The measures would allow existing owners to keep their handguns.
When asked why the government did not propose a ban, Mr Trudeau said the bill would provide an “important tool” to reduce the number of handguns in communities and protect people from gun violence. “This is a concrete and genuine national measure that will go a long way toward keeping Canadians safe,” he said.
Gun-control advocates say new law is just a first Steps to prevent firearms-related violence in Canada.
Bill C-21 would allow the automatic removal of gun licenses from people who have engaged in criminal harassment, such as domestic violence or stalking. And it would create a new “red flag” law that would allow courts to require that people themselves or others hand over their firearms to the police.
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Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino told a news conference that the government was also committed to launching a mandatory buyback program for assault-style weapons. He said the details would be announced after consultation with the industry.
liberal promised to launch a mandatory buyback program during the 2021 election campaign.
The government promised on Monday that such firearms would be automatically banned when they enter the market in the future. “We will continue to work to ensure that any new weapons that fit the definition of assault-style weaponry are captured,” The Prime Minister’s Office said in a news release.
The buyback plan has drawn praise from gun-control advocates, but Conservative lawmakers and others opposing the idea have suggested that it targets legitimate gun owners rather than preventing illegal firearms from falling into the wrong hands.
The government has been promising action on firearms for some time now. Mr Mendicino said in March that the government would bring in a “very proactive” firearms law.
Two years ago, the government announced a ban on more than 1,500 models and variants of what it regards as assault-style firearms. And, during the 2019 election campaign, the Liberals promised a repurchase program for “all military-style assault rifles legally purchased in Canada.”
But in 2021 the government introduced a previous gun-control bill, also titled C-21, that would have established a voluntary — not mandatory — buyback program for assault-style weapons.
The bill would also have allowed municipalities to ban handguns, and would have made it a criminal offense to increase the size of gun magazines beyond legal limits. When the federal election was called last August, the law died on the order paper.
At Monday’s news conference, Mr Mendicino said the government would make changes to the Firearms Act to enforce handgun prohibition as soon as possible. A statement issued with the announcement of the new bill said the rules would go into effect in the fall of 2022. Both the minister and the prime minister said they hoped opposition parties would help expedite the passage of the law.
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Following the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo this month, new bills are coming to bring attention to gun violence, NY The Liberal warned in its 2021 election platform that “American-style gun violence is on the rise in Canada”. has been”.
On Friday, Statistics Canada reported that after several years of decline, there was an increase in violent crime involving firearms from 2013 to 2019. Based on police reports, in 2020, Canada had 29 victims of firearm-related violent crimes for every 100,000 people, up from 19 victims in 2013.
Nathalie Prevost, a spokeswoman for gun-control advocacy group PolySeSouvient, said after Monday’s news conference that the handgun freeze is a good first step.
“This is a huge victory for people who believe in gun control in Canada. This is a federal freeze, not just a freeze,” she said, “it’s very, very important. We need to understand the importance of that decision.” There is no need to reduce it.” Ms Prevost was shot four times in 1989, when a gunman stormed the cole Polytechnique in Montreal and killed 14 women.
Claire Price, whose teenage daughter Samantha shot and injured 13 people during a gunfight in Toronto’s Danforth area in 2018, said she was shocked by the handgun measure. “I didn’t expect any announcements to ban the sale of handguns,” she said. “I needed to hear these words now.”
“There’s always more to do,” she said. “It’s certainly only one piece of a bigger puzzle.”
Blake Brown, a St. Mary’s University professor and author of a book about the history of guns in Canada, said that if the law is passed, this raft of changes would take months, if not years, to implement. After the federal Firearms Act of 1995 received royal assent, he said, it took years for the gun licensing regime to be fully implemented.
Pro. Brown pointed out that banning the sale of handguns is a much cheaper method than banning them and buying back the estimated million or more registered to people across the country.
He said a multi-pronged approach to solving gun violence is needed, including stopping more illegal guns flowing north from the US.
Police services across the country provide information on guns used in violent crimes. Those data suggest most firearms Not legally purchased or stolen from licensed Canadian gun owners, but smuggled from the US
“You can’t fix it: You can’t snap your fingers and spend some money and make sure a gun never crosses the border,” Prof Brown said.
Mr Mendicino told reporters on Monday that 55,000 new handguns are registered annually.
That’s roughly how many new guns will be purchased over the next several months by enthusiasts of the impending freeze, according to Rod Giltka, chief executive officer of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.
Mr Giltaka said handgun owners in the country’s 1,400 gun clubs are part of a very serious culture that Ottawa is unfairly targeting in its efforts to reduce violence and increase public safety.
AJ Somerset, a hunter and former soldier from Windsor, Ont., who is also the author of a book about North America’s gun culture, said gun control is valuable and works, but the government’s proposed measures will not stop the violence. plagued many cities.
Ottawa can better solve the problem of mass violence by providing more money and services aimed at reducing poverty in cities, Mr Somerset said. He added that the federal government may also legalize certain drugs to reduce violence associated with the illegal market.
Federal conservatives expressed reservations about the law.
Raquel Dancho, the party’s public safety critic, said in a statement that gun crime continues to rise every year, despite the current restrictions.
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“Today’s announcement of a national handgun freeze is a major step in the right direction, although it should be accompanied by stricter limit measures, tougher penalties and investment in anti-violence programs,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said the proposed new measures would make her city and others across the country safer.
“We hope the Canadian government’s move today will lead to a complete ban on handguns and their removal from our streets and into the hands of our youth,” he wrote on Twitter.