Federal government announces assault-style firearms ban

BlackburnNews.com photo. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle.)

Ottawa has announced a ban on more than 1,500 models and variants of “assault-style” firearms, less than two weeks after a mass shooting in Nova Scotia resulted in the murders of 22 people.

Saying one Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the newly prohibited firearms and components can no longer be legally used, sold, or imported. The ban is being enacted through a cabinet order, rather than legislation.

“Prohibiting these firearms immediately freezes the market in Canada for the most prevalent assault-style firearms that are not suitable for hunting or sports purposes,” said Trudeau. “These dangerous firearms are designed for the battlefield, not for communities, but have been used tragically to target women, students, and worshippers because they are efficient in maximizing fatalities.”

The models represent nine categories of firearms and two types identified by characteristics.

“Owners must also continue to safely store them, and may only transfer and transport them under limited circumstances,” read a release from the government. “These measures will remove dangerous firearms designed for military use from our communities, and help ensure that Canadian families and communities no longer suffer from gun violence.”

There will be a two-year transition period to protect owners of the newly-prohibited firearms from criminal liability while they take steps to comply with the new rules. The federal government intends to bring in a buy-back program as soon as possible so those firearms owners can safely and legally remove the guns from their possession.

“This two-year amnesty order under the Criminal Code is in effect until April 30, 2022,” continued the release. “By the end of this amnesty period, all firearm owners must comply with the ban.”

The government reminded Canadians to never deliver a firearm to a police station without first making arrangements for a safe and scheduled delivery or pick up, and gun owners are asked not to surrender their guns so long as social distancing measures are in place during the pandemic.

There are exceptions under the amnesty. Indigenous peoples and those who hunt or trap to sustain themselves may continue to use the firearms until a suitable replacement is found.

Currently, in Canada, there are an estimated 100,000 restricted firearms among the models that are not prohibited.