Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday announced the ban of over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms. These models represent nine categories of firearms and two types identified by characteristic. Some of their components are also prohibited.
“Because of gun violence, people are dying, families are grieving, and communities are suffering,” Trudeau said in a news release. “It must end. Assault-style firearms designed for military use have no place in Canada. By removing them from our streets, we will limit the devastating effects of gun-related violence and help make our country safer.”
The move is being strongly criticized by Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer.
“Canadians have been very clear,” he said. “They want action on crime, gangs and illegal firearms. That is why an e-petition that opposed using an Order in Council to ban firearms became the most-signed e-petition in Canadian history. We have an outdoor community who safely utilize their firearms daily without incident. Yet this Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair would rather target us than real criminals.”
However, an Angus Reid Institute public opinion survey show an overwhelming majority – nearly four-in-five – support a complete prohibition on civilian possession of the types of weapons used in the Montreal Massacre in 1989, and most recently, the rampage of an assault weapon-carrying murderer who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia last month. Two-thirds (65 per cent ) strongly support such a move.
“While it may be harder to go after gangs and illegally trafficked firearms, that is precisely what this government should be doing,” said Zimmer. “The fact is the vast majority of firearms owners respect Canada’s firearms laws and are checked daily through the Canadian Firearms Program. Making law-abiding Canadians follow more rules will not make communities safer.”
The newly prohibited firearms and components cannot be legally used, sold, or imported. Owners must also continue to safely store them, and may only transfer and transport them under limited circumstances. These measures will remove dangerous firearms designed for military use from our communities, and help ensure that Canadian families and communities no longer suffer from gun violence.
“Prohibiting these firearms immediately freezes the market in Canada for the most prevalent assault-style firearms that are not suitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes,” said Blair. “These dangerous firearms are designed for the battlefield, not for communities, but have been used tragically to target women, students and worshippers because they are efficient in maximizing fatalities.”
There will be a transition period of two years to protect owners of newly prohibited firearms from criminal liability while they take steps to comply with these new rules. This two-year amnesty order under the Criminal Code is in effect until April 30, 2022. There are exceptions under the amnesty for Indigenous peoples exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights to hunt, and for those who hunt or trap to sustain themselves or their families. These exceptions will allow for the continued use of newly prohibited firearms in limited circumstances until a suitable replacement can be found. By the end of the amnesty period, all firearms owners must comply with the ban.
“As I have said before, the number one priority of any government should be the safety of Canadians and focusing on concrete action that will keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals,” said Zimmer. “This includes support for police anti-gang and gun units, a CBSA Firearms Smuggling Task Force and tougher sentences for violent offenders. I will also continue to push for the repeal of Bill C-71. From adding a back door registry that only punishes the law-abiding firearms community, to now a broad-based firearms ban, it will only get much worse under this prime minister and this Liberal government.”
Ottawa intends to implement a buy-back program as soon as possible to safely remove these firearms and to introduce legislation as early as possible, working with Parliament and through public consultation.