As the US continues to debate the merits of letting children be murdered in elementary schools, the Canadian government on Monday announced legislation that will freeze all handgun sales and implement a mandatory buyback of 1,500 types of assault-style firearms, which Canada had already banned two years ago.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announcing the new legislation yesterday, said it would cap the total number of handguns in Canada, and make it “illegal to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada.” The legislation is expected to become law this fall, and the mandatory buybacks for assault weapons will begin by the end of the year. If someone wants to keep their AR-15 or AK-47 out of a sentimental attachment to their Rambo fantasies, they would have to let the government render the weapon inoperable.
He also explicitly linked the proposed legislation to US America’s recent bloodshed, because who’d want to become a hellhole like the USA?
As a government, as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies […] We need only look south of the border to know that if we do not take action, firmly and rapidly, it gets worse and worse and more difficult to counter.
The new firearms restrictions are the latest in a series of steps Canada has taken in response to mass shootings. After an openly misogynist gunman killed 14 women, mostly engineering students, at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, Canada implemented mandatory safety courses and background checks.
Then in 2020, following the murders of 13 people in Nova Scotia, Trudeau ordered the assault weapon ban, but it allowed owners of the things to keep them as long as they had a permit. Sales, trades, and transfers of the guns were banned, at least.
In 2021, the government proposed a broader program of gun restrictions, which included a buyback program for assault weapons that gun control advocates criticized because it was only voluntary. Time ran out on that bill before it made it through Parliament, but the new proposal is considered likely to pass, thanks to support from Trudeau’s Liberal Party and the leftier New Democrats.
Unlike in the USA, the New York Times notes, handguns have always been highly regulated in Canada:
Aside from members of the police, border agencies, the military and some private security guards, handgun users may fire their weapons only at shooting ranges, and the guns must otherwise be stored in locked containers at their homes.
In addition to the freeze on the handgun market, the CBC reports the new legislation will also increase criminal penalties for firearms smuggling (the Nova Scotia killer’s guns were illegally brought in from the US), revoke firearms licenses from people in domestic violence or criminal harassment (aka stalking) cases, and put in place a “red flag” law that would allow a court to order people deemed a threat to themselves or others to turn over their guns to law enforcement.
Canada already limits magazine capacity for semiautomatic weapons to five rounds; the law would further require that magazines for long guns be permanently modified to ensure they can’t hold more than that, and would make it a crime to modify a rifle to increase its capacity.
Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair explained that unlike the USA, Canada gots no freedom, or at least places a higher value on human life than on the illusory liberty Americans think comes with owning machines designed to kill people:
“In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege not a right,” Blair said. “This is a principle that differentiates ourselves from many other countries in the world, notably our colleagues and friends to the south.” […]
Blair noted guns are often smuggled in illegally from the U.S., which he noted has one of the largest small arms arsenals in the world.
Just to emphasize that not all countries have the same pathological subservience to the gun lobby the US does, former US Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman tweeted yesterday, “Canada can teach us a lot”.
Trudeau also said yesterday that while in general, Canadian firearms owners are responsible, “Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives. […] We need less gun violence.
“We cannot let the gun debate became so polarized that nothing gets done. We cannot let that happen in our country. This is about freedom. People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear.”
They sure have a funny idea of what freedom is in Canada. In the USA, freedom means nobody telling us what to do, plus the occasional racist mass shooting, plus gunmen running amok in elementary schools now and then, and let’s not forget the 14 mass shootings just over the Memorial Day weekend.
But if Canada’s government ever does tyranny, how will patriots ever be able to kill the tyrants, huh?
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