Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a “national freeze” on handguns sales in Canada in a bid to “protect communities”.
“Two years ago, our government banned 1,500 models of assault-style weapons… We also expanded background checks to keep firearms out of the wrong hands,” said Trudeau. “… Now, as we see gun violence continue to rise, it is our duty to keep taking action.”
“As a further part of this new legislation, we’re also fighting gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing maximum criminal penalties and providing more tools for law enforcement to investigate firearm crimes,” he said. “We’ll require the permanent alteration of long gun magazines so they can never hold more than five rounds. These are actions that doctors, experts, and chiefs of police have been calling for for years, and we’re acting on their advice.”
“I also want to thank the advocates, many of whom are here today, for your tireless efforts,” said Trudeau, adding that the government has made significant investments into the RCMP’s ability to intercept illegal firearms across the U.S. border.
“Our agencies intercepted nearly double the number of firearms than the year before,” noted Trudeau. “We’ll continue doing more to support law enforcement as they tackle the illegal gun market.”
“The vast majority of gun owners use them safely and in accordance with the law, but other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their every day lives, and Canadians certainly don’t need assault-style weapons that were designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” he continued. “Canadians are united in wanting more done to keep communities safe and prevent suicides and gender-based violence, and that’s exactly why we’re here today.”
The proposal for more gun control, Bill C-21 includes various gun control measures including reducing the size of magazines for long rifles to only hold five rounds and banning the sale of large capacity clips.
“(The) national freeze on handguns (would) prevent individuals from bringing newly acquired handguns into Canada and from buying, selling, and transferring handguns within the country,” a press release stated on Monday.
“In addition to this new legislation, the Government of Canada will require long-gun magazines to be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds and will ban the sale and transfer of large capacity magazines under the Criminal Code.”
Additionally, the Trudeau Liberals want to take away the firearms licences of anyone “involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.”
Trudeau said his government would also spend $6.6 million to address “intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, and self-harm.”
“One Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many,” said Trudeau. “I’ve seen all too well the tragic cost that gun violence has in our communities across the country. Today, we’re proposing some of the strongest measures in Canadian history to keep guns out of our communities and build a safer future for everyone.”
In February 2022, Toronto Police Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw testified before the Commons public safety committee that 86 percent of the crime weapons that investigators were able to track last year were smuggled into Canada from the United States, a trend he said has been on the rise since 2019.
“Our problem in Toronto are handguns from the United States,” he said in response to Conservative MP Raquel Dancho’s question about the Trudeau Liberals’ nearly billion-dollar federal buy-back program — one that would allow legal gun owners to turn in so-called military-style assault rifles banned by Ottawa a year-and-a-half ago.
“The issues around investing in what you described is certainly not going to deal with the crime problem we’re facing in Toronto, as it relates to the use of criminal handguns.”
Handgun bans aren’t universally popular, and some have questioned their effectiveness. In 2019, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer, for example, stated that Canada already had extremely strict gun laws in place and that no further action was required. He said that illegal firearms are used in the vast majority of gun crimes, particularly those involving handguns, and that it makes no sense to ban an already prohibited weapon.
“In every single case there are already offences for that. They’re already breaking the law and the criminal law in Canada addresses all of those circumstances,” said Palmer. “The firearms laws in Canada are actually very good right now. They’re very strict.”
He continued: “There will always be an influx of guns from the United States into Canada. Heroin is illegal in Canada, too, but we have heroin in Canada.