Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced a long-promised ban on assault-style weapons following the country’s worst case of gun violence in April.
New rules would make it illegal to sell, transport, import or use 1,500 varieties of weapons. The ban is effective immediately but there will be a two-year amnesty period for law-abiding gun owners to comply.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the new measures were needed as gun violence was increasing. “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 gets more difficult to counter,” he said.
The handgun freeze would contain exceptions, including for elite sport shooters, Olympic athletes, and security guards. Canadians who already own handguns would be allowed to keep them.
Authorities do not expect bulk buying of handguns in anticipation of the freeze, in part because they are so heavily regulated already, an official said in a briefing. Trudeau did acknowledge that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens but argued that “assault-weapons” serve no beneficial purpose.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only — only to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” he said in a press conference on Friday. “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”
The call to ban assault weapons was heightened after a number of high-profile shootings — in 2017, at a mosque in Quebec, in 2018 on a commercial street in Toronto and most recently, in a rampage across the province of Nova Scotia that became the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history.
RCMP have said that the shooter was not licensed to own firearms but had what appeared to be an assault-style weapon, as well as other guns. The RCMP did not specify which kind, so it is unknown if it will be covered by the ban.
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