Canada passes law to freeze gun sales and ban similar toys

OTTAWA, May 30 (Reuters) – The Canadian government on Monday introduced legislation to introduce a “national freeze” on the sale and purchase of handguns as part of a gun control package that would also limit warehouse capacity and ban toys that looks like firearms.

The new legislation, which revives a number of measures suspended in a national election last year, comes just a week after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the new measures were necessary as gun violence increased.

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“We only have to look south of the border to know that if we don’t take strong and swift action, it will get worse and worse and harder to fight,” he said.

The small arms freeze would include exceptions, including for elite sports shooters, Olympic athletes and security guards. Canadians who already own pistols are allowed to keep them.

Authorities do not expect a run on pistols pending the freeze, in part because they are already so heavily regulated, an official said in a briefing.

Canada has stricter gun laws than the United States, but while the gun homicide rate is less than a fifth of the US figure, it is higher than other rich countries and has been on the rise. In 2020, it was five times Australia’s rate.

According to Statistics Canada, the percentage in 2020 and 2017 was the highest since at least 1997.

Canada banned the sale and use of some 1,500 models of assault weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle, two years ago in the wake of a mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia — a move some gun owners say they are challenging in court. . Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, speaking alongside Trudeau, confirmed the “imminent launch of the first phase” of a program to buy back and compensate owners of such weapons.

Although the Liberals have a minority of seats in parliament, the legislation could be passed with the support of the left-wing New Democratic Party.

The proposed legislation would prevent a person who is under a protection order or has engaged in domestic violence or stalking from obtaining or retaining a firearms license.

It also requires long-gun magazines to be permanently changed so that they can never hold more than five rounds, and will prohibit the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines.

The new laws would also ban toys that resemble real weapons, such as airsoft guns. Last week, Toronto police shot and killed a man who was carrying a bullet rifle. read more

“Because they look like real firearms, the police have to treat them as if they were real. This has had tragic consequences,” Attorney General David Lametti told reporters.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, welcomed some of the measures, such as the “red flag” provisions in the case of domestic violence, and said he would like more information about enforcement and resources for measures such as the freeze. of small arms.

He fully supported a crackdown on fake weapons, which he said presented a “major challenge”.

“You can’t differentiate between what is a replica firearm and what is a real firearm, especially when these replica firearms incidents often take place in very dynamic, rapidly evolving circumstances.”

Rod Giltaca, the head of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, said the small arms freeze was “absurd.”

He said authorities were not using the resources they already had to deal with gun violence, such as calling people listed as references on gun license applications.

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Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto, edited by Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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