Canada's Trudeau announces plan to ban handgun purchases in the fall
31st May 2022

Justin Trudeau announces a ‘national freeze’ on handgun ownership to stop people buying and selling handguns anywhere in Canada

  • The new bill that will halt the growth of personally owned handguns is expected to be enacted this fall
  • Canada already has plans in place to ban 1,500 types of military-style firearms 
  • The Canadian government will also offer a mandatory buyback program that will begin at the end of 2022
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced the new measure just six days after the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas
  • The Canadian government said the bill would also allow for the removal of gun licenses from people involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment
  • Rifle magazines will also be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds
  • A ban on the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines under the Criminal Code will also be introduced in the fall

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that his government will introduce new legislation to implement a ‘national freeze’ on handgun ownership and prevent people from buying and selling handguns anywhere in the country.

‘The day this legislation goes into effect it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns in Canada,’ Trudeau told reporters.

If passed, the freeze on handguns is expected to come into force in the autumn. Canada’s public safety minister has tabled regulatory amendments in parliament to ensure it can be implemented swiftly, according to a ministry statement.

The killing last week of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas has fed concern about gun violence worldwide. Canada already has significantly stronger gun ownership restrictions than its neighbor to the south.

Canada banned the sale and use of some 1,500 models of assault weapons, like the AR-15 rifle, two years ago. Shortly afterwards, gun supporters marched to Parliament Hill during the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights in protest to the ban.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the stage on Monday to announce new gun control legislation in Ottawa, Ontario, six days after the Uvalde gun shooting that killed 19 third grade students and two teachers in Texas

Trudeau’s new legislation, officially documented as C-21, would prevent gun owners in Canada to keep or buy their handguns. Pictured: Gun supporters arrive on Parliament Hill during the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights during the pro gun march in Ottawa, Ontario in 2020

If the new legislation is passed, then it is expected to be motioned into law by the fall of this year. Pictured: Anti-gun protestors in 2019 who called for stricter gun laws in Toronto in front of mayor John Tory

Canada has banned the sale and use of most, if not all, assault-style firearms since 2020. Pictured: Gun supporters on Parliament Hill after the ban was set into motion two-years-ago

Speaking alongside Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed the ‘imminent launch of the initial phase’ of a program to buy back and compensate owners of such weapons.

Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said Canada is very different from the United States, while taking a jab at its gun laws.

‘In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege not a right,’ Blair said. ‘This is a principal that differentiates ourselves from many other countries in the world, notably our colleagues and friends to the south. In Canada, guns are only intended to be used for hunting and sport purposes.’

He also said that guns are often smuggled in illegally from the U.S., which he noted has one of the largest small arms arsenals in the world. 

The new legislation, Bill C-21, also proposes taking away the firearms licenses of those involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.

The legislation proposes stricter sentences for gun smugglers and traffickers, and aims to provide law enforcement with new tools like wiretapping to stop gun crime, Mendicino said.

The government will also require long-gun magazines to be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds, and will ban the sale and transfer of large capacity magazines.

‘Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives,’ Trudeau told reporters at a briefing.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announcing new gun control legislation in Ottawa on Monday. The minister argued that the new bill would enforce stricter sentences for gun smugglers and traffickers if passed by the House of Commons

Gun supporters holding a sign claiming that the Canadian government only cares about disarming its citizens and not about public safety during the Firearm Rights pro gun march in Ottawa in 2020

Canada has had far fewer mass shootings than the U.S. in part because of a lack of easy access to guns. Pictured: The scene where a handgun lies on the ground while Toronto Police Services investigate a report of multiple shooting at the Bisha Hotel and Residences in Toronto in May 2020. One person died from the shooting while two others were injured

Canada’s rate of firearm homicides is 0.5 per 100,000 people, compared with the U.S. rate of 4.12, according to a 2021 analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

‘Canada can teach us a lot,’ tweeted Bruce Heyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada under the Obama administration.

Trudeau said his government recognizes the vast majority of Canadians who own guns are responsible but the level of gun violence is unacceptable. ‘This is a concrete and real national measure to long way toward keeping Canadians safe,’ Trudeau said.

The new measures are assured of passing in Canada’s Parliament as the ruling Liberals and leftist opposition New Democrats have enough votes.

Pierre Poilievre, who is running to be leader of the Conservative party, said law-abiding gun owners should be respected and dangerous criminals should be jailed.

The bill would create a new ‘red flag’ law allowing courts to require that people considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to police. The government said the measure would guard the safety of those applying through the process, often women in danger of domestic abuse, by protecting their identities. 

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