Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a proposed freeze on handgun ownership in Canada that would effectively ban their importation and sale, following recent mass shootings in the United States.
The bill must still be passed by Parliament, with the ruling Liberals holding only a minority of seats.
“We’re introducing legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership,” Trudeau told a news conference on Monday, joined by dozens of families and friends of victims of gun violence.
“What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” he said. “In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns.”
Days after Canada’s worst mass shooting left 23 dead in rural Nova Scotia in April 2020, the government banned 1,500 types of military-grade or assault-style firearms.
But Trudeau acknowledged on Monday that gun violence continues to rise.
The government statistical agency reported last week that firearms-related violent crimes account for less than three per cent of all violent crimes in Canada.
But since 2009, the per capita rate of guns being pointed at someone has nearly tripled, while the rate at which a gun was fired with an intent to kill or wound is up five-fold.
Almost two-thirds of gun crimes in urban areas involved handguns.
Police often point to smuggling from the US — which is reeling from recent shootings at a school in Texas and at a supermarket in New York state — as the main source of handguns.e
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino estimated there are about one million handguns in this country — up significantly from a decade ago.