The federal Liberal government is poised to ban some types of firearms — and those new prohibitions could be made public as soon as Friday, sources told Radio-Canada.
The gun control changes come in the wake of Nova Scotia’s recent tragedy, which saw an armed man kill 23 innocents and leave others wounded. The gunman, who was not licensed to possess firearms, used guns illegally obtained in Canada and from U.S. sources to carry out his crimes.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has drawn up a list of 11 firearms that he is recommending be banned in Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now reviewing that list, sources said. Trudeau’s final approval could come as soon as today, the French-language arm of CBC reported.
CBC has not been able to confirm which models are on Blair’s list or when these changes would be implemented.
The list is not expected to include handguns. Blair has said the government will legislate new powers for municipalities to enact their own restrictions on handguns.
If enacted, the bans would be imposed through an order-in-council — a cabinet decree — not legislation, sources said. Parliament’s attention is entirely on the pandemic right now. The government could still introduce gun control legislation down the line when the current limits on parliamentary work are lifted.
While in opposition, the Liberals criticized former prime minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet for reclassifying some firearms to a lower category — from restricted to non-restricted — through regulations. The Liberals said at the time that such classifications should be made by the police and experts, not politicians.
The Liberal Party promised in the last election campaign to ban “military-style assault weapons,” saying such firearms have no place in Canada.
“On the issue of guns, one thing I can say is that not enough has changed,” Trudeau said at a Sept. 20 campaign event.
“Don’t get me wrong. We did take meaningful steps to address gun violence. But as long as Canadians are losing their loved ones to gun violence, not enough has changed.”
Liberal gun control election promises:
- Ban military-style assault weapons, including the AR-15.
- Establish a buy-back program for all military-style assault weapons legally purchased in Canada.
- Work with the provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban firearms.
The RCMP confirmed Tuesday that at least one of the firearms used in the Nova Scotia shooting could be described as an “assault-style” firearm. The Firearms Act does not currently classify firearms as “military-style” — that term would have to be defined in the new regulations.
Gun control advocates have been calling on the Liberal government to follow the New Zealand example. That country’s prime minister moved swiftly after the deadly Christchurch mosque massacre, banning certain firearms and enacting a buyback program.
The federal government has estimated the cost of a buyback program at roughly $250 million, although some experts have suggested the number could be much higher.
While Trudeau is pushing ahead with more gun control, his government still hasn’t enacted amendments to the Firearms Act that were passed by Parliament last year.
As CBC News reported last week, at least 30 changes to the Firearms Act are still pending.
The legislation in question, then known as Bill C-71, made consequential amendments to the firearms regime and was passed into law in May 2019.
A spokesperson for Blair said Bill C-71 provisions will come into force “once the necessary administrative changes have been made, funding has been approved and the associated regulations have been tabled in Parliament for review.”