Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new gun control measures that he says will "protect communities," including a freeze on "handgun ownership."
"Two years ago, our government banned 1,500 models of assault-style weapons... We also expanded background checks to keep firearms out of the wrong hands," said Trudeau. "... Now, as we see gun violence continue to rise, it is our duty to keep taking action."
Trudeau announced that he would put forward legislation that would 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," he said to applause.
"As a further part of this new legislation, we're also fighting gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing maximum criminal penalties and providing more tools for law enforcement to investigate firearm crimes.
"We'll require the permanent alteration of long gun magazines so they can never hold more than five rounds. These are actions that doctors, experts, and chiefs of police have been calling for for years, and we're acting on their advice.
"I also want to thank the advocates, many of whom are here today," he said, "for your tireless efforts."
Trudeau said that investments have already been made to strengthen the RCMP's capacity to intercept guns coming across borders, saying that efforts are working.
"Our agencies intercepted nearly double the number of firearms than the year before," he said. "We'll continue doing more to support law enforcement as they tackle the illegal gun market."
"The vast majority of gun owners use them safely and in accordance with the law, but other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their every day lives, and Canadians certainly don't need assault-style weapons that were designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Canadians are united in wanting more done to keep communities safe and prevent suicides and gender-based violence, and that's exactly why we're here today."
"The consequences are real," Trudeau continued. "Today, we're joined by families and friends of victims of gun violence including the mass shootings at Polytechnique, on the Danforth, and at the Quebec City Mosque. Losing a child to gun violence... should never happen."
The move to ban handguns isn't a uniformly popular one, as some have questioned its effectiveness. In 2019, for example, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer said that Canada already had extremely strong firearms regulation in place and that no further action was required. He said that the vast majority of gun crimes, especially those with handguns, are committed using illegal guns and that it makes no sense to ban an already prohibited weapon.
"In every single case there are already offences for that. They're already breaking the law and the criminal law in Canada addresses all of those circumstances," said Palmer. "The firearms laws in Canada are actually very good right now. They're very strict."
He continued: "There will always be an influx of guns from the United States into Canada. Heroin is illegal in Canada, too, but we have heroin in Canada.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
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