National gun freeze key feature of new firearms control law

“It will save some people’s lives. Will it be the thing that will save people shot by gang violence and stuff like that? Probably not,” says Doug King, MRU Professor of Justice Studies

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A Calgary arms dealer says he is concerned that the new firearms control legislation introduced Monday by federal liberals will have costly consequences for companies that sell guns.

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A central feature of the new legislation is a national freeze on the import, purchase or sale of handguns.

That’s a concern for James Bachynsky, owner of the Calgary Shooting Center, who said his store has about $1 million in inventory, which would have repercussions.

“How the hell are we supposed to react when we know two minutes in advance that our inventory will be banned and we won’t be able to transfer it,” he said. “We have many questions and no answers.”

The small arms freeze is intended to help “stop the growth of small arms in Canada,” Public Safety Secretary Marco Mendicino said in a press release, adding that the new regulations should come into effect in the fall of 2022.

A wave of shootings sweeps through Calgary. As of May 25, there were 62 shootings in the city in 2022, 18 of them in April and eight so far in May.

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Last week, Calgary police officials said at a police commission meeting that not enough is being done to stop gun crimes, most of which involve “illicitly possessed” weapons.

The legislation submitted represents a proposal and is likely to see some changes as it progresses through government committees, said Doug King, a justice studies professor at Mount Royal University.

But he said the legislation’s approach to handguns will not solve Canada’s increasing violent crime.

“The weapons currently used for violent crime are mostly illegal firearms that have entered the country rather than being bought in this country or stolen from someone in this country,” King said.

“I don’t think that will have any noticeable effect on gun violence.”

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Other pieces of legislation could have an impact “on the margins,” King said, including a new “red flag” law that would allow courts to require people who consider them a danger to themselves or others to hand over their firearms to the public. surrender police.

“It will save some people’s lives,” King said. “Will this be the thing that will save people who have been shot by gang violence and stuff like that? Probably not.”

The bill would also allow the revocation of gun licenses from people involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.

The Liberal government also says it will require long-arms magazines to be permanently changed so that they can never contain more than five rounds. It also prohibits the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines under the Criminal Code.

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Alberta Firearms Officer Teri Bryant said Monday evening that her office will need some time to review the legislation before she can comment fully.

There are about a million legal and registered handguns in Alberta, she said, calling the proposed freeze a “burglary” on those owners.

She added that the legislation broadly violates the property rights of Albertans, and said she expects further restrictions to follow.

“Looks like this is in preparation for an additional ban at some point in the future,” Bryant said. She argued that federal money would be better spent hiring more firearms officers to improve control over gun purchases.

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“If the federal government comes up with these kinds of measures, it hurts confidence.”

According to federal statistics, the number of registered handguns in Canada increased by 71 percent between 2010 and 2020 to about 1.1 million. Handguns were the heaviest weapon present in most firearms-related violent crimes between 2009 and 2020.

The legislation introduced on Monday builds on previous federal steps.

Two years ago, the government announced a ban on more than 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms. The Liberals plan to implement a buyback program to compensate affected owners and businesses.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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