Canada has proposed letting municipalities completely ban handguns as it introduces new legislation to expand its nationwide military-style assault weapons ban from last year.
The amendments would also simplify the process for officials to revoke gun licences, and make it easier for friends and family to ask that weapons be removed from individuals when there’s a fear of violence.
Remodelling a weapon to increase capacity would become a crime under the new law. The bill is expected to make it through Parliament in Ottawa, and comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that changes be made after at least 20 people were killed in a mass shooting in Nova Scotia last year, The New York Times reported.
The proposed law would also make it possible for the government to create a buy-back programme for around 1,500 assault weapon models.
Mr Trudeau said in a statement on Tuesday: “One Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many. This is why our government has taken some of the strongest action in our country’s history against gun violence.”
Some members of the Conservative opposition are against the bill but other opposition parties look likely to support its passage.
After the assault weapons ban was put in place in May last year, a two-year amnesty period was started for those who own listed firearms to comply with the ban, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The amnesty period runs out on 30 April 2022.
At a press conference, Mr Trudeau said: “We are not targeting law-abiding citizens who own guns to go hunting or for sport shooting. The measures we’re proposing are concrete and practical. And they have one goal and one goal only: protecting you, your family and your community. Because the victims are real. The pain of their families is real.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said: “I think Mr Trudeau misleads people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other Canadians who are law-abiding is somehow going to solve the problem of shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities. It’s ignoring the real problem and it’s dividing Canadians.”
Gun-control group PolySeSouvient said it was disappointed that the government didn’t make the buy-back programme mandatory, like in Australia and New Zealand.
Suzanne Laplante Edward, who lost her daughter in a 1989 shooting which killed 15 at an engineering school in Montreal, said that it was a “betrayal”.
She said: “My family and I have fought for three decades to ban these weapons. We thought we had won in the fall of 2019 when the Liberals announced with much pomp and circumstance that they would ban and buy back all of these killing machines.”