Newly tabled gun legislation would allow municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation.
The Liberal government said Tuesday the measures would be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.
Many gun-control advocates have pressed for a national handgun ban, warning that leaving it up to municipalities would create an ineffective patchwork of regulations.
As expected, the long-promised bill also proposes a buyback of a wide array of recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapons.
Owners could turn in their guns for compensation but would also have the option of keeping them as long as the owners abide by strict conditions, including secure storage.
Under the rules, these guns could not be legally used, transported, sold, transferred or bequeathed by individuals in Canada.
“They cannot be used legally as firearms,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said at a news conference, calling the federal plan “overwhelmingly the most effective way” to deal with the outlawed firearms.
Some groups have urged the government to make the buyback mandatory — like programs in Australia and New Zealand — to ensure as many banned guns as possible were turned in.
Some gun owners strongly oppose the ban and seek to overturn it through the courts.
The bill would also:
- Introduce new “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws that would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of a person’s firearms, or to ask a chief firearms officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence to own firearms;
- Target gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and by boosting the capacity of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms;
- Create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a firearm and depicting violence in firearms advertising;
- Introduce tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and ensure the prohibition of imports, exports, sales and transfers of all replica firearms.
In Canada, no one should ever have to be afraid and action must be taken to prevent more tragedies, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The right place to act is here, and the right time is now.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021.