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Canada takes additional firearms measures to combat crime and increase public safety

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New legislation would allow municipalities to ban handguns through by-laws restricting storage and transportation in their jurisdictions and increase penalties for smuggling and trafficking

OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 16, 2021 — Today, The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the introduction of new legislation to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to make communities safer while respecting law-abiding gun owners.

In their statement the federal government says gun violence has had devastating effects on communities across the country, and on too many Canadians who have lost loved ones. According to Statistics Canada, firearms were used in over 40 per cent of homicides in Canada in 2019. “This violence must stop. This is why, last May, the Government of Canada banned over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms and some of their components. The government is continuing to take every step necessary to combat gun violence and keep Canadians and communities safe.”

Through the proposed legislation and other measures, the government would:

  • Combat intimate partner and gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms by creating “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws. These laws would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of an individual’s firearms, or to ask a Chief Firearms Officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence to own firearms.
  • Fight gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and by enhancing the capacity of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms.
  • Help create safer communities by supporting municipalities that ban handguns through by-laws restricting storage and transportation in their jurisdictions. Individuals who violate these municipal by-laws would be subject to federal penalties, including licence revocation and criminal sanctions.
  • Give young people the opportunities and resources they need to avoid criminal behaviour by providing funding to municipalities and Indigenous communities to support youth programs.
  • Protect Canadians from gun violence by creating new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a firearm and depicting violence in firearms advertising, introducing tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and ensuring the prohibition of imports, exports, sales, and transfers of all replica firearms.
  • Complete the prohibition of assault-style firearms to ensure these weapons cannot be legally used, transported, sold, transferred, or bequeathed by individuals in Canada. We also intend to move forward with a buyback program in the coming months to support the safe removal of these firearms from our communities.

These measures are part of the federal government’s broader firearms strategy to increase public safety and build upon previous legislation and policies already in place. This includes the ban on assault-style firearms, significant funding to provinces and territories to combat gun and gang violence, and investments in border security to tackle firearms smuggling. 

The Government of Canada says they will continue to work with Parliamentarians, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, and municipalities to do what it takes to keep our country safe from gun violence.

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