Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of military-grade “assault-style” weapons in Canada, effective immediately.
Starting today, licensed gun owners will no longer be allowed to sell, transport, import or use these sorts of weapons in this country.
“As of today, the market for assault weapons in Canada is closed,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said. “Enough is enough. Banning these firearms will save Canadian lives.”
Trudeau said there will be a two-year amnesty period to allow people who already own these firearms to comply with the ban. Trudeau promised to pass legislation in the coming months to provide “fair compensation” to people who own these firearms.
The Liberal Party promised some sort of buyback program in the last election, something that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
The ban will be enacted through regulations approved by an order-in-council from cabinet — not through legislation. Trudeau said the government was ready to enact this campaign promise months ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the legislative agenda.
The term “assault-style” has no legal definition in Canada. The Firearms Act also does not currently classify firearms as “military-style” — that term would have to be defined in the new regulations.
Generally speaking, an assault-style weapon is a semi-automatic firearm with a large ammunition magazine, built to fire quickly.
All Canadians must be in compliance with the law by April 2022, Justice Minister David Lametti said, adding that gun owners who have not disposed of their banned firearms by that point could face sanctions under the Criminal Code.
While there is an amnesty period, the firearms cannot be used anywhere as of today. Lametti said firearms owners may return the firearms to the manufacturer or export them as part of a sale between now and 2022.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only … to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said.
While he acknowledged that most firearms owners are law-abiding citizens, he said hunters don’t need this sort of firepower.
“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” he said.
The firearms ban comes less than two weeks after the Nova Scotia gun massacre, an incident Trudeau called “the deadliest rampage in our country’s history.”
“These tragedies reverberate still. They shape our identity, they stain our conscience, they make adults out of children and the heartbreaking truth is they’re happening more often than they once did,” Trudeau said of such mass shootings.
“Their families deserve more than thoughts and prayers. Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.”
The RCMP has confirmed that the Nova Scotia shooter used firearms obtained illegally in Canada and from U.S. sources to carry out his crimes. He was not licensed to own firearms.
Eyewitnesses have said he used a number of weapons during his shooting spree, including some sort of a long-barrelled rifle and a handgun. The RCMP has described at least one of his firearms as an “assault-style” weapon.
Critics maintain that these sort of bans target law-abiding gun owners rather than criminals, who often turn to the black market to procure firearms to commit crimes.
When asked if the government would do more to police the border — the U.S. is the source of the vast majority of illegal firearms — Trudeau said other measures were in the works. Blair sidestepped the question when asked about CBC’s reporting on the low number of firearms seized at the border.
Radio-Canada obtained an early draft of a list of firearms that will be included in that 1,500 figure. Guns like the M16, M4, AR-10 and AR-15 rifles will be banned; those styles were used in the Sandy Hook, New Zealand, Las Vegas and Orlando mass shootings. There are an estimated 83,572 of them in Canada.
The Ruger Mini-14, the type of firearm used in the École Polytechnique shooting, is also on the list. There are an estimated 16,859 of them in Canada.
The M14 rifle, used in the Moncton shooting, is also expected to be banned. There are an estimated 5,229 of those in Canada.
The department will hold a technical briefing with reporters later today on the changes, which are expected to be enacted by an order-in-council, or cabinet decree.
— CBC News