Trudeau Announces Ban on “Assault-Style” Firearms

  • "These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time," Trudeau said.
  • Multiple shooting incidents have occurred in Canada in the last few years, and there has been a growing call for tighter gun control.
  • Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer dismissed the government's ban as "symbolism over substance."

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a ban on the sale, use, and import of about 1,500 kinds of “assault-style” firearms, effective immediately on May 1st. The announcement comes less than two weeks after the Nova Scotia gun massacre, an incident Trudeau called “the deadliest rampage in our country’s history.”

Justin Trudeau is a Canadian politician serving as the 23rd and current prime minister of Canada since 2015 and leader of the Liberal Party since 2013. Trudeau is the second-youngest Canadian prime minister after Joe Clark; he is also the first to be related to a previous holder of the post, as the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau.

Momentum for stricter gun control was increasing. Regulated firearm owners will be given a two-year grace period to dispose of these firearms. Mr. Trudeau argued that most firearm owners are law-abiding citizens, but there is no reason for civilians to possess “military-grade” firearms in Canada.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.” Mr. Trudeau also said he would submit a bill that would allow for a buyback of the restricted firearms. However, not only will it require support from other parties, but it will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Prior to the general election last October, Mr. Trudeau sought to tighten gun restrictions, including increasing background checks and tightening pistol transportation restrictions. In March of this year, his Liberal Party was planning to ban the sale and use of these firearms, but they moved to May due to the spread of the new coronavirus. Currently, the number of firearm owners registered with the RCMP exceeds 80,000.

A spree killing comprising shootings and arson took place in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia between April 18 and 19, 2020. It is the deadliest attack of its kind in Canadian history, surpassing the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, during which 15 people were killed.

Multiple shooting incidents have occurred in Canada in the last few years, and there has been a growing call for tighter gun control. In 2017, six people were killed at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. That was followed by a series of shootings in eastern Toronto in 2018.

Most recently, just two weeks ago, a man shot and set fires in multiple locations across the maritime province of Nova Scotia, killing more than 20 people in the worst mass shooting event in Canadian history. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the shooter, in this case, had something like an automatic rifle without a gun license. Since the RCMP has not clarified the type of firearm, it is unknown whether it will be subject to this gun control.

On the other hand, this gun control has been debated in political circles. More than 175,000 signatures have been filed in a petition against gun control, launched by Conservative MP Glenn Motz in December last year. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer dismissed the government’s ban as “symbolism over substance,” saying it does nothing to target smugglers or those who illegally modify firearms.

The Globe and Mail reported that, based on multiple leaked documents, participation in repurchase programs is voluntary and licensed owners are exempt. Mr. Trudeau had previously said the buyback plan would cover all owners. Mr. Trudeau did not say whether the buyback plan would be voluntary, but said it would have to be endorsed by other parties and be fair to everyone.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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