Trudeau's' freeze' on handguns starts Friday

The handgun freeze, which was announced in May, puts a ban on the buying, selling, or importing of handguns.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

The Trudeau Liberals' freeze on handguns comes into effect today, meaning that individuals and businesses will no longer be able to import pistols into Canada, with limited exceptions.

The handgun freeze, which was announced in May, puts a ban on the buying, selling, or importing of handguns. The move by the Trudeau government aims to limit the amount of handguns in Canada.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly held a joint press conference in Etobicoke last month to discuss the move, which was pushed through without the approval of Parliament.

"There's no doubt that there is a very pressing issue that lies before us," Mendicino began, "and that is the need, the necessity to eradicate gun violence, one of the most pernicious and complex social harms that we see visited upon our communities every day."

He went on to announce that in order to hasten the implementation of the handgun freeze laid out in Bill C-21, "nearly all individuals and businesses in Canada will be banned from importing handguns" beginning August 19.
Joly explained that as foreign minister, she has "the authority to deny any import or export permit application that is contrary to Canada's security."

She noted that when Trudeau announced the freeze in May, there was an "uptick" in guns being purchased by Canadians. "We want to prevent that," she said, explaining that since most guns in Canada are not made in Canada, implementing a ban on imports would effectively ensure no new guns are purchased legally.

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.


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