Canada bans pistol imports in two weeks

OTTAWA-

The Canadian government plans to ban the import of small arms from August 19.

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced Friday that the federal government has decided to push through the import ban without the approval of parliament, and plans to change the policy through legal restrictions.

The measure will prevent “almost all” individuals and businesses from importing handguns into Canada, the government says.

Joly and Mendicino said on Friday that upcoming regulations will effectively accelerate aspects of the planned freeze. The move is temporary, however, with plans to remain in effect only until the previously promised permanent ban on Ottawa is passed.

“This ban is a stopgap as the gun freeze in its entirety goes through the parliamentary process, preventing the shelves from being replenished in the short term,” said Joly.

While details of upcoming legal restrictions are yet to be released, Joly said she will exercise her authority as Secretary of State, allowing her to deny any application for export or import licenses, citing security concerns.

“We came up with the idea in collaboration with Marco to create this new licensing system, but in the meantime we will deny all licenses from commercial entities or people who want to bring guns to Canada,” said Joly. “So that’s how creative we got to work and that’s why we’re talking about an import ban today.”

In late May, the Liberals introduced Bill C-21, legislation that, if passed, would further restrict legal access to handguns in Canada. The bill includes a specific section that stops with a complete ban, instead opting for a national “freeze” on the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns in Canada, allowing current legal owners to keep theirs.

Bill C-21 also wants to create systems to flag individuals who could pose a risk to themselves or others, and increase maximum penalties for firearms-related offenses such as firearms smuggling and trafficking.

The incoming regulation announced Friday will “contain narrow exceptions mirroring those in Bill C-21,” the government said.

Joly said the Liberals decided to do this because when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Bill C-21, there was an “upturn” in Canada’s purchase of guns, and pistols in particular.

“We want to avoid that. That’s why we’re announcing this import ban… We know that the vast majority of handguns are imported into the country, as there is no weapons producer in the country,” Joly said.

The legislation is still in the early stages of being considered by Parliament, and MPs plan to start a committee study of the bill when the autumn session of the House of Commons begins in late September.

On Friday, Mendicino reiterated his desire to see the legislation passed “as soon as possible”.

“I continue to call on all MPs to read the bill, study the bill and enact it as soon as possible. We have made good progress… Unfortunately, it is the Conservatives who are pushing the passage of this bill,” the statement said. minister.

Conservatives have routinely denied claims that government accounts have stalled, accusing the minority liberal government of being inept managers of the legislative agenda.

Commenting on the news, Conservative MP and public safety critic Raquel Dancho accused the government of “assaulting business owners and law-abiding citizens”.

“Instead of tackling the true source of gun crime in Canada, the Liberal government is unilaterally banning imports without parliamentary input, impacting a multi-billion dollar industry and thousands of retailers and small businesses, with very little notice,” Dancho said. announcement will do nothing to stop the flow of illegal guns.”

The Bloc Québécois said on Friday they welcomed the decision but regretted that immediate action was not taken after Bill C-21 was announced to halt the flow of guns into the country.

In a statement, Bloc MP and justice critic Rheal Fortin said more needs to be done to fight gun crime, including tackling the number of handguns already in circulation in Canada through a gun buyback program.

The Liberals are in the process of implementing a weapons buyback program, but it is focused on a list of 1,500 different makes and models of what the government considers “assault style” firearms.

According to the government, law enforcement agencies seized more than double the number of firearms at the border in 2021 compared to 2020.

Ministers suggested that once the import restrictions come into effect, the number of handguns in Canada will only decline, something gun control advocates are celebrating.

“An import ban will not end gun purchases in Canada. However, this is an important and creative measure that will undoubtedly slow the expansion of the Canadian small arms market until Bill C-21 is passed, hopefully this fall,” said Nathalie. Provost, a survivor of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique shooting in Montreal, said in a statement.


With files from CTV News’ Michael Lee

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