Canada enacts law to freeze sales of handguns and ban similar toys


OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government on Monday introduced legislation to implement a “national freeze” on the sale and purchase of handguns as part of a gun control package that will also limit magazine capabilities and ban some toys that resemble guns.

The new legislation, which revived some measures that were delayed last year amid a national election, comes just one week after 19 children and two teachers were killed in an Ovaldi, Texas, classroom by a gunman.

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

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“We just need to look south of the border to know that if we don’t take firm and quick measures, it will only get worse and more difficult to counter,” he said.

Freeze pistol will have exceptions, including elite sports shooters, Olympic athletes, and security guards. Canadians who already own handguns will be allowed to keep them.

An official said at a briefing that authorities do not expect to operate the pistols in anticipation of a freeze, in part because they are already subject to very strict laws.

Canada has stronger gun legislation than the United States, but while the gun homicide rate is less than a fifth, the rate in the United States is higher than in other rich countries and has been rising. In 2020, the rate was five times that of Australia.

The rate in both 2020 and 2017 was the highest in the country since at least 1997, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada banned the sale and use of about 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 firearm owners say they are fighting in court. Speaking alongside Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed the “imminent launch of the initial phase” of a buyback and compensation program for owners of these guns.

While the Liberals have a minority of seats in Parliament, the legislation can be passed with the support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party.

The planned legislation would prevent anyone who is subject to a protection order or who has engaged in domestic violence or stalking from obtaining or maintaining a firearms licence.

It would also require long-range magazines to be permanently changed so that they could never hold more than five rounds and would prohibit the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines.

The new laws will also ban some toys that look like real weapons, such as airsoft guns. Last week, Toronto police shot and killed a man with a malicious handgun. Read more

“Because they look like real firearms, police need to treat them as if they were real,” Justice Minister David Lamette told reporters. “And that has led to tragic consequences.”

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

He fully supported the crackdown on counterfeit weapons, which he said represented a “huge challenge”.

“You cannot distinguish between what is a replica of a firearm and what is a real firearm, particularly when these incidents involving replica firearms often occur in dynamic, rapidly evolving conditions.”

Rod Giltaka, president of the Canadian Firearms Rights Coalition, said freezing the pistol was “ridiculous.”

He said authorities are not using tools they already had to address gun violence, such as calling people listed as references on gun license applications.

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(Covering) By Ismail Shakeel in Ottawa and Anna Mahler Baberney in Toronto; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Boleyn

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.