In May 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a piece of legislation that effectively banned assault-style weapons. After a brutal mass shooting in April, Trudeau was swift in executing the legislation (the ban was announced a mere two weeks after Gabriel Wortman shot and killed 18 Nova Scotians). On February 16th, the Canadian government introduced a new bill; an addition to the law that will “allow municipalities to ban handguns and increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking”. While the new addition to the legislation is seen as a positive in the eyes of the liberal Prime Minister, conservative members of parliament see flaws in the bill.
Trudeau stated in a press conference that these laws have not been put into effect to criminalize law-abiding hunters and sport shooters. “The measures we’re proposing are concrete and practical”, said Trudeau, “And they have one goal and one goal only — protecting you, your family and your community.” The new additions to the law would create “flags” for friends and family to report assault weapon owners to the government. Trudeau also introduced higher punishments for those who traffick assault rifles.
Another addition proposed in the bill is the introduction of a buy-back program. Before the buy-back program, Canadian gun owners would be encouraged to abide by the codes set in place by the government, such as not using the weapons or bequeathing them to anyone else. While the buy-back program is still being developed, the Liberal Party estimated that the program could cost the Canadian government hundreds of millions of federal funding.
Conservative lawmakers do not believe that these laws will change the rate of gun violence in Canada. Conservative party leader and member of parliament Erin O’Toole stated that Trudeau is ignoring the problem of “shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities’’ and that these laws are “ignoring the real problem and it’s dividing Canadians.” On the other hand, gun control activist groups in Canada seem to be disappointed in the information that the government has provided. While assault weapons have been banned, the buy-back program would not be mandatory as they had hoped. Since the 2019 election cycle, these activist groups have been hopeful that the buy-back programs would be mandatory.
While Canada is moving forward in their gun control legislation introduction, Canadians are hopeful to keep their families, communities, provinces, and country safe from gun violence regardless of political divide.
Sources: New York Times, CBC News