Canada proposes legislation to ‘freeze’ handgun sales and buy back assault weapons

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TORONTO — Canada on Monday introduced new gun control legislation that, if passed, would implement a “national freeze” on the purchase, import, transfer and sale of firearms. fist, thus capping the number of these weapons already present in the country.

The bill, which officials here tout as “the most significant action on gun violence in a generation,” also includes “red flag” laws that would allow judges to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed to be danger to themselves or others and more severe penalties. for smuggling and arms trafficking.

“We recognize that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible and follow all necessary laws,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “However, we face a level of gun violence in our communities that is unacceptable.”

The bill came after mass shootings in Texas and across the US-Canada border in Buffalo in recent weeks reignited a long-running debate in the United States over whether Congress could act to curb armed violence.

“Unfortunately, the reality is in our country [gun violence] is getting worse and worse over the past few years,” Trudeau said. “We only have to look south of the border to know that if we don’t act, firmly and quickly, it gets worse and worse and harder and harder to deal with.

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Many of the bill’s provisions were contained in a gun control bill that was introduced last year but did not pass before a federal election was called in August. Gun control supporters criticized his banned gun buy-back program, which was voluntary. The Liberals have promised tougher gun control measures if they are re-elected.

Such measures have broad public support here, especially in urban centers. The Liberal Party typically uses guns as an issue during federal election campaigns, portraying their conservative counterparts as favoring easing gun control measures to gain an advantage.

Gun control advocates have long called for a nationwide ban on handguns. But some provincial and municipal officials opposed it.

The “freezing” contemplated by the bill is not a ban, as people who already own them could continue to own and use them. But they could only transfer them to businesses, and chief firearms officers would not have the right to approve the transfer of handguns to individuals.

The bill is expected to pass with the support of the New Democratic Party. Conservatives slammed the Liberals’ gun control efforts on Monday, accusing them of unfairly targeting law-abiding gun owners and failing to adequately stamp out the smuggling of illegal guns through the borders.

“Today’s announcement does not focus on the root cause of gun violence in our cities: illegal weapons smuggled into Canada by criminal gangs,” said Raquel Dancho, the Conservative spokesperson in matter of public safety, in a tweet. “The Prime Minister has had 7 years to fix this serious problem, but he continues to make headlines and stick his head in the sand.”

The measures unveiled on Monday come after the government banned 1,500 makes and models of ‘military-style assault weapons’ in 2020, after a gunman posing as a police officer was charged in a campaign by the Nova Scotia, killing 22 people, including a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, in the country’s deadliest mass shooting.

The government said on Monday it planned to introduce a mandatory buy-back program that would offer compensation to owners of banned firearms. Details of the program are expected this summer, and the government hopes to begin buying back the weapons, including AR-15s, of the type used in the Texas school attack, by the end of the year. year.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Public Safety Minister. “But we will.”

Trudeau promises gun control legislation after deadliest shooting in Canadian history

Some measures announced on Monday would not require parliamentary approval, but a change in regulations.

While mass shootings are relatively rare here compared to the United States, the rate of firearm-related homicides has increased since 2013, according to Statistics Canada data. He said the percentage of homicides involving a firearm rose from 26% in 2013 to 37% in 2020.

Nearly 60% of violent gun crimes involve handguns, according to the national statistics agency. But he said there were “many gaps” in the data, including on the “source of firearms used in the crime” and “whether a firearm used in a crime was stolen, purchased illegally or smuggled into the country”.

At hearings for a public inquiry this year into the ’causes, background and circumstances’ of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, evidence was presented about the provenance of the large cache of weapons the assailant , Gabriel Wortman, had on hand during the hours -long assault.

Wortman, a denturist, did not have a firearms license and obtained his guns illegally. The commission heard there had been “two, and potentially three” instances where police received information about his access to firearms. Little or nothing was done, according to reports.

Several of the firearms were recovered and came from gun stores in nearby Maine. A friend there told police that Wortman took one or more of the guns without his knowledge or permission, while giving the shooter a Ruger P89 “as a sign of gratitude” for his help with ” tree removal and other odd jobs at his residence.”

An AR-15 came from a gun store in California, but Wortman first saw it at a gun show in Maine and someone else bought it for him. Witnesses told RCMP after the shooting that Wortman would dismantle the guns and roll them up in the tonneau cover of his truck to smuggle them across the border.

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