Canada bans imports of handguns


TORONTO — The Canadian government will ban importing handguns into the country, officials said Friday, the latest in a series of gun control measures to be implemented under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The move, announced Friday by Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, follows a bill tabled by the government in May to implement a “national freeze” on the purchase, importation, sale and transfer of handguns.

Friday’s announcement allows the government to impose the freeze without waiting for parliament, which is in summer recess until September, to pass the legislation. It is expected to come into effect in two weeks, narrowing the window for gun shops to hoard goods.

Because the vast majority of handguns in Canada are imported, Mendicino and Joly said, this effectively caps the number of such guns already in the country at current levels without outright banning them.

Local media have reported that handgun sales have skyrocketed since the Trudeau government announced the freeze, prompting some lawmakers to worry about a run on handguns from legal gun owners seeking supplies before the legislation is passed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new gun control legislation on May 30 that would put a “national freeze” on the import, purchase or sale of handguns. (Video: Reuters)

Gun control has broad support here. But critics say the focus on limiting handgun ownership unfairly targets law-abiding owners while doing little to eradicate the root problem: guns smuggled through the border.

Toronto’s police chief said in November that about 80% of firearms implicated in gun violence in Canada’s most populous city came from the United States, which he said has a strong gun culture fire, making it a “very difficult” problem to solve.

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“The biggest problem we have in the city is the volume of guns coming across the border,” Chief James Ramer said.

Legislation introduced in May, known as C-21, also includes “red flag” laws that would allow judges to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves or others, the withdrawal of firearms licenses from people who have committed acts of domestic violence and tougher penalties for smuggling and trafficking of weapons.

Both the legislation and the ban include exemptions for those, such as armed security guards, who hold transport clearance as part of their job, those who hold transport clearance for protection, and athletes and coaches. high-level sports shooting authorized.

Canada imported more than $28.2 million worth of revolvers and pistols in 2021, according to government data, with nearly two-thirds of that volume coming from the United States. Total imports were up 7.7% from a year earlier, but down from a recent high of $34.7 million in 2018.

Canadian trauma surgeons have called for gun control. Gun groups had an NRA-style response.

Mass shootings are relatively rare here compared to the United States, but the rate of firearm homicides has increased since 2013, according to Statistics Canada data.

The government statistics agency reported that more than 60% of violent gun crimes in urban centers in 2020 involved handguns. But he also said there were “many gaps” and limitations in the data, including on the “source of firearms used in the crime” and “whether a firearm used in the crime was stolen. , purchased illegally or smuggled into the country”. No province requires investigators to send firearms used in crimes for tracing.

The Canada Border Services Agency said it seized 1,203 firearms from 2021 to 2022. In May, a Yorkshire terrier named Pepper foiled an attempt to smuggle 11 handguns across the border from Michigan to Ontario using a six-rotor drone.

Some 2.2 million people in Canada own licensed firearms, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported in 2020, and more than 1.1 million firearms are registered.

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The Trudeau government promised tougher gun control measures during the federal election campaign last year.

In 2020, Trudeau announced a ban on 1,500 makes and models of “military-style assault weapons,” after a gunman posing as a police officer rampaged through Nova Scotia during two weekend days, burning down structures and killing 22 people, including a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Police officer in Canada’s deadliest mass shooting.

Last week, the government announced the amount it is proposing to compensate gun owners who turn in those guns under a mandatory buy-back program.

During hearings for a public inquiry this year into the “causes, background and circumstances” of the attack in Nova Scotia, evidence was presented about the origin of the gunman’s large cache of weapons.

Gabriel Wortman, a denturist, did not have a firearms license and obtained his guns illegally. The commission heard there had been “two, and potentially three” cases in which police received information about his access to firearms. Little or nothing was done, according to reports.

Gunman rampages through Nova Scotia in Canada’s deadliest mass shooting

Several of the guns have been recovered and are from gun shops in Maine. A friend there told police that Wortman took one or more of the guns without his knowledge or permission, while giving the shooter a Ruger P89 “as a sign of gratitude” for his help with ” tree removal and other small jobs at his residence.”

An AR-15 came from a gun store in California, but Wortman first saw it at a gun show in Maine and someone else bought it for him. Witnesses told police after the shooting that Wortman would disassemble the guns and roll them up in the payload cover of his pickup truck to smuggle them across the border.

Wortman was shot dead by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a duty area in Enfield, Nova Scotia, ending his rampage. Police have not charged any of the people who helped him get the guns, including those who allegedly violated US laws.

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