Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation Monday to freeze the sale of handguns in the country.
“What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau said in a press briefing announcing the bill.
Canadians would be able to keep and use the handguns they already own, with the ban effectively acting as a cap on the approximately 1.1 million registered handguns in Canada.
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The bill would also require long-gun magazines to be altered so they carry no more than five bullets, and it would create a “red flag” law that allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms when a court deems a gun owner to pose a risk to him- or herself or others. The legislation is expected to pass the country’s Parliament.
Trudeau invoked last week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers in making his case for the bill.
“We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter,” Trudeau said.
The legislation builds on gun control measures taken two years ago after a mass shooting in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia that killed 22 people, the deadliest in the country’s history. At the time, the government banned 1,500 assault-style weapons, including AR-15s.
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, said a buyback program to force gun owners to turn over these military-style weapons to the government would begin under the new legislation by the end of the year.
"It's going to be hard, but we're going to get it done," Mendicino said.
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Gun violence in the United States dwarfs that of Canada — more than three-quarters of all homicides involved a firearm in the U.S. in 2020, compared to roughly a third in Canada. Nonetheless, Canada’s gun homicide rate is higher than some of its Western peers.
The U.S. is considering gun control measures of its own in the wake of the Uvalde massacre, though the chances of legislation passing the Senate are thought to be slim. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Sunday said "serious" negotiations were underway, with everything from red flag laws to tightened background checks on the table. Discussions will continue Tuesday with a virtual Zoom call between Murphy and his Republican counterparts.