OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The federal government is taking additional steps in its battle against gun violence, announcing new legislation to allow cities to ban handguns, and a new buy-back program.
The prime minister made the announcement Tuesday, with his focus on the buy-back program.
“We will move forward with the buy-back program in the coming months and complete the prohibition to ensure these weapons cannot be legally used, transferred, transported, bequeathed, or sold,” Justin Trudeau said.
The program follows the earlier banning of hundreds of types of firearms last May.
“Banning 1,500 models of assault-style weapons last year was a critical step, but we also need to continue to fight the illegal gun market. That’s why we will increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, and enhance the capacity of police and border officials to keep illegal firearms out of the country,” Trudeau explained.
“At the same time, we will also create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine of a firearm and introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition,” he added.
The Prime Minister announces new gun restriction measures today, which will allow municipalities to ban handguns in their jurisdiction. Also a gun buy back program in the coming months & increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) February 16, 2021
Bill C-21 also allows municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation. Measures will be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.
“Gun ownership in Canada, in this country, is a privilege and not a right. It’s a privilege that’s predicated on the strict adherence to our laws, our regulations, and our restrictions,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair noted.
“It’s a principle. It’s based on the fact that firearms in Canada are intended for use for hunting or for sports purposes. We do not arm ourselves in this country to protect ourselves from our fellow citizens. We rely on the rule of law, not the end of a gun, for our safety,” Blair added.
Many gun-control advocates have pressed for a national hand-gun ban, warning that leaving it up to municipalities would create an ineffective patchwork of regulations.
According to Trudeau, guns were used in more than 40 per cent of all homicides in Canada in 2019.
“When it comes to keeping Canadians safe from gun violence, we need more than thoughts and prayers — we need concrete action,” the prime minister said.
Talking about firearms deaths in recent years, Trudeau says “no one should ever have to be afraid.”
“No more tragedies. No more wrong place, wrong time. The right place to act is here and the right time is now,” Trudeau added.
-With files from The Canadian Press