“These are the strongest measures to combat gun violence our country has ever seen,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference Tuesday in the capital, Ottawa.
The bill, which would still take months to become law, also introduces a voluntary buy-back program for the approximately 150,000 to 200,000 assault rifles legally held in Canada. Owners of now-banned firearms can still choose to keep them, although they can no longer use them as firearms and would be subject to strict licensing and storage laws.
Mayors seek solution to escalate gun violence
Trudeau acknowledged that there would be political fallout on both sides of the gun control debate. The mayors of Canada’s two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, have called for a nationwide handgun ban as gun violence escalates in those cities.
In a statement obtained by CNN, Toronto Mayor John Tory said city staff were reviewing the proposed new set of laws and the city welcomed the federal government’s efforts to reduce gun violence. But Tory also reaffirmed his city’s support for a nationwide handgun ban.
“Toronto City Council has made it clear that it supports a national handgun ban. The federal government said the changes announced today would allow municipalities to ban handguns and include federal penalties for those who violate local regulations. The City looks forward to receiving details from the Government of Canada on how such a ban would work and what its impact would be on gun violence, ”Tory said in the statement.
Federal government officials have said cities cannot do it alone and that provincial governments, several of which have indicated that they do not support banning handguns, would have ultimate jurisdiction.
Law enforcement officials say random gun violence in Canadian cities continues to worsen, with deaths increasingly linked to gang violence.
A teenage girl was killed in a drive-by shootout earlier this month in Montreal, prompting the mayor to once again call for a national ban on handguns.
“Obviously there are political elements to all of this, but the main reason we are doing this, the reason Canadians want it to happen, is to keep our communities safe. In Canada, people can use guns for hunting and for sport shooting, not for personal reasons. And there is no need for military-type assault weapons anywhere in this country, “Trudeau said.
In his press conference, Trudeau highlighted a key element of the new set of laws, the “red flag” and “yellow flag” provisions. He said they would help tackle intimate partner violence and gender-based violence by allowing people to go to court to order the removal of a person’s firearm or to suspend their gun license. fire.
No happy side
Gun control advocates have noted that while the proposed legislation is comprehensive, it does not go far enough.
“This is flawed legislation, but a very Canadian approach to solving a complex problem,” said Dr. Philip Berger, senior advisor to Canadian Physicians for Firearms Protection, in a statement. . He added: “To make the other changes that are still needed, the 80% of Canadians who support gun control need political parties other than the Liberals to stand up and be held accountable.
If passed, the new law would also prohibit altering a firearm’s cartridge magazine and ban depictions of violence in firearms advertising. There would be stricter restrictions on the import of ammunition and a ban on the import, export, sale and transfer of all replica firearms.
The Conservative Party of Canada has denounced the bill, claiming it penalizes legitimate gun owners and does not adequately address the issue of firearms smuggled into Canada from the United States.
“I think Mr. Trudeau is misleading people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other law-abiding Canadians will somehow solve the shooting problem and of criminal gang activity in major cities. problem and it divides Canadians, ”Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said at a press conference on Tuesday.
In a detailed technical briefing, the government said it would continue to combat smuggling and trafficking in firearms by strengthening law enforcement and increasing penalties. The Trudeau government has also said it will contact the administration of US President Joe Biden to find new ways to cooperate on gun smuggling issues along the border.
Update: This story has been updated to add more details about the proposed legislation.