© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during an interview with Reuters as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, May 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday his government is working on new legislation to implement a “national freeze” on handgun ownership and prevent people from buying and selling handguns anywhere in the country.
“When this legislation comes into effect, it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters.
If passed, the freeze on handguns is expected to go into effect in the fall. According to a statement from the ministry, Canada’s public safety minister has submitted regulatory amendments to parliament to ensure they can be implemented swiftly.
Last week, 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas were killed, raising concerns about gun violence around the world. Compared to its southern neighbors, Canada’s gun ownership restrictions have tightened significantly.
Two years ago, Canada banned the sale and use of about 1,500 assault weapons, such as AR-15 rifles. Speaking alongside Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed that a plan to buy back and compensate owners of such weapons “is about to start.”
The new bill, Bill C-21, also proposes to cancel the gun licenses of those involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.
The legislation, which proposes tougher sentences for gun smugglers and traffickers, is designed to give law enforcement new tools, such as wiretapping, to stop gun crime, Mendicino said.
The government will also require permanent modifications to long-gun magazines to no more than five rounds, and will ban the sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines.
“There is no reason for anyone in Canada to need a firearm in their everyday life other than sports shooting and hunting,” Trudeau told reporters at the briefing.
According to a 2021 analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Canada’s firearm homicide rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people, compared with 4.12 in the United States.