OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The federal government will consult the public, as it considers whether or not to ban handguns in our country.
The federal government is looking to hold public hearings and expert panels, as well as invite written submissions from all Canadians, as it examines the option of banning handguns and assault weapons.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s important the government thoroughly examine any potential bans. “We believe in evidence-based policy. We’re talking to experts. We’re listening to Canadians. We’re going to be consulting broadly on how to make our communities safer.”
Bill Blair, the minister for organized crime reduction, is set to lead the consultations. He’ll be hearing from experts and stakeholders but says it’s critical that the public be involved in these serious discussions.
“People are very concerned about gun violence. They have opinions and they want to comment on how they might have their communities made safer.”
He says the discussions will go beyond just banning weapons.
“We are prepared to do what is necessary to keep our communities safe. That includes looking at all the ways in which firearms get into the hands of criminals and how we might [disrupt] that supply.”
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is against any such ban, saying it would be ineffective.
“We hear from police chiefs — from everyone from the RCMP to local police detachments — that say that it would be symbolic. It would be all optics, no results.”
He says there are better ways to deal with gun violence. “Get illegal firearms off the street, better tools to our border services agencies, and meaningful penalties for people who commit these types of crimes.”
Blair won’t say how long the consultation will last.
The government already has a bill before Parliament to increase restrictions on firearms, but it does not go as far as banning specific weapons.
The consultations will likely ramp up the gun debate in Canada, with just a year to go before the next election. Several cities have called on the feds to ban handguns and assault weapons in Canada.
Surrey First weighs in
Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill’s public safety platform already includes support for a ban on handguns.
“When you look at the impact of guns in our youth and how those guns are utilized as tools for our gangs in this community, I’m prepared to lose the election over this one issue. I make no excuses and I make no apologies.”
But Doug Elford, who’s running for city council as part of a slate with former Mayor Doug McCallum, says it could be years before handguns are banned, if at all.
‘It really is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, so really it’s up to them to decide.”
The longtime head of the Newton Community Association is also suggesting a different policing model is needed, but Gill says any plan to replace the RCMP with a municipal police force should be decided by a referendum.