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Canada announces move to ban handguns

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 7, 2019. (Pierre Villard/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)
May 30, 2022

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intent to crack down on handguns in Canada by halting their sale, importation, and transfer in the country. He also introduced several other anti-gun measures, including one that seeks to force Canadians to turn in their AR-15s to the government or have them made inoperable.

“We’re introducing legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership. What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau announced on Monday. “In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns.”

The handgun freeze was introduced in the House of Commons on Monday, and it isn’t yet clear whether the legislation will pass. While it isn’t a full ban on handguns, it restricts handgun use for most people.

“Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives,” Trudeau said.

Some Canadians would be exempt from the handgun crackdown, such as sport shooters and those in certain professions, such as a valuable goods carrier, who hold handgun carry authorization.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino also announced that Canada’s mandatory “buyback” program for “assault-style weapons” will be in effect later this year pending the bill’s passage.

“The first AR-15s and other assault-style firearms will start to be bought back by the end of this year,” Mendicino said. “It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to get it done.”

Trudeau said the government will buy the guns “at a fair price” or they may be turned over to the government for modifications to make them permanently inoperable.

Trudeau added that the government will establish a definition of “military-style assault weapon.”

The announcement comes two years after Trudeau announced the immediate ban of 1,500 types of “assault-style” rifles. He said the ban would come with a two-year amnesty period for gun owners to comply with the ban. Now that the two-year period is up, Canada is looking to force compliance.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said at the time. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

Other strict anti-gun measures introduced in Canada’s Parliament on Monday include magazine limits, a “red flag” gun confiscation law, harsher penalties for gun traffickers, and a mandate to strip gun licenses from those involved in domestic violence, Trudeau’s office announced.

“As a government, as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies,” Trudeau, adding, “We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter.”