“One Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he announced the introduction of new legislation to fight gun smuggling and firearm violence.
“The tragedies we have seen in Ste-Foy and Portapique, and more recently in Toronto and Montréal, should never happen.”
According to Statistics Canada, firearms were used in over 40 per cent of homicides in Canada in 2019. The proposed legislation and other measures are part of the Liberals’s broader firearms strategy to increase public safety and build upon previous legislation and policies already in place. This includes the ban on assault-style firearms, significant funding to provinces and territories to combat gun and gang violence, and investments in border security to tackle firearms smuggling.
“The multi-faceted approach to gun control we are proposing combines evidence-based policies, tougher Criminal Code penalties, and funding for programs that address root causes that lead to criminal behavior in the first place,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti.
Amongst the new measures proposed by the Trudeau government is a “buyback program” in the coming months “to support the safe removal of these firearms from our communities”.
Also on the cards are “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws to combat intimate partner and gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms. These laws would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of an individual’s firearms, or to ask a Chief Firearms Officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence to own firearms, the Trudeau government said.
In addition to increasing criminal penalties, the Liberals are looking to enhance the capacity of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms.
Furthermore, individuals who violate municipal by-laws banning handguns would be subject to federal penalties, including licence revocation and criminal sanctions.
The federal government will also provide funding support for youth programs to “help young people avoid criminal behaviour”.
Additional measures to protect Canadians from gun violence include the creation of new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a firearm and depicting violence in firearms advertising, introducing tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and ensuring the prohibition of imports, exports, sales, and transfers of all replica firearms.
The Liberals will also complete the prohibition of assault-style firearms to ensure these weapons cannot be legally used, transported, sold, transferred, or bequeathed by individuals in Canada.
Last May, the federal government banned over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms and some of their components.