Firearms: Trudeau ends the sale of handguns

Firearms: Trudeau ends sale of handguns

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino tabled Monday afternoon a new bill to improve gun control in the country.

This is the second time a bill to improve gun control in Canada has been introduced by the Liberals in recent years, since former Bill C-21 was introduced in April 2021. died in the bud when an election was called last August.

The bill includes a freeze on handgun sales starting next fall. “It will therefore become impossible to buy, sell, transfer or import such weapons into Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference. People who already own a handgun – there could be as many as a million in the country according to Ottawa estimates – will be able to continue using it, but they will only be allowed to transfer it to businesses or to persons exempted by the new provisions or to dispose of them legally. During a technical briefing, senior executives clarified that exemptions were provided for athletes training in “disciplines recognized by the International Olympic Committee”.

The new version of C-21 incorporates many points provided for in the old version. But it also includes “improvements”. For example, the concept of non-permissive storage of assault weapons allowing assault weapon owners to keep their weapons, without using them, which was provided for in the old version no longer exists. Their purchase by the government will become mandatory, under a regime whose details remain to be clarified later this summer, said Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino. Without giving any indication of the cost that the program could have, the latter assures that the buy-backs will begin “before the end of the year”.

The provisions authorizing municipalities to implement restrictions on the federal storage and transportation of handguns that was provided for in the old version has also been dropped.

In another change, individuals targeted by protection orders or who have “participated in an act of domestic violence” will have their firearms license revoked. If they do not have one, they will become ineligible to obtain one.

In addition, the maximum penalties for offenses related to firearms trafficking will increase from 10 to 14 years once the bill receives Royal Assent.

Victims satisfied, political opposition disappointed

While the families, survivors and witnesses of the murderous shootings of Polytechnique, Dawson College and the Quebec City mosque said they were rather satisfied with the bill by the Through their spokespersons, the opposition parties were disappointed by the provisions presented.

“An important step has been taken for all activists for better gun control. This bill is the most promising since the abolition of the long-gun registry in 2012,” said Nathalie Provost, survivor of the Polytechnique shooting.

“The federal ban on handguns and the tightening of criteria around firearms licensing shows us that the government has listened to victims, activists and experts on many critical aspects, even if it has required coming back on previous government positions”, continues the one who is also spokesperson for the PolySeSouvient collective.

For his part, the co-founder and spokesperson of the Quebec mosque, Boufeldja Benabdallah, believes that this new version of C-21 meets the expectations of Canadians. “For five long years we have advocated the banning of handguns because it was such a weapon that enabled a hateful young man to kill six of our brothers, seriously injure five others and traumatize dozens of witnesses […] We celebrate while calling on Canadians to show their support for their elected representatives in Parliament, because we all know that the gun lobby will fight this bill tooth and nail,” he said. .

In the NDP, public safety critic Alistair MacGregor fears that this bill is a “great promise”, but that “nothing really changes”. At the Conservatives, Raquel Dancho, who occupies the same role, argued on Twitter that “the announcement does not focus on the root cause of gun violence in our cities, illegal weapons smuggled into Canada by gangs criminals”. As for the Bloc Québécois, MP Kristina Michaud recognizes that this second version includes improvements, but she notes “many gaps” such as “the incomprehensible postponement of a mandatory buy-back program, the introduction of a grandfather clause for handguns and the lack of a precise definition of what constitutes a prohibited assault weapon”.

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