Four-fifths of British Columbians would support a handgun ban in their city. (Black Press Media file)

Feds won’t let resistant premiers scuttle municipal handgun bans: PM

The government will push ahead with plans to prevent smuggling of pistols into Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he won’t let resistance from unwilling premiers scuttle the plans of municipalities that want to ban handguns.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau also defended his government’s intention to allow handgun prohibition on a city-by-city basis rather than enacting a sweeping federal ban.

Some municipal politicians in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, concerned about deadly shootings, have called for measures to control handguns in their cities.

The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns.

“We have heard from a number of particularly large cities saying that they want to be able to ban handguns within their city limits,” Trudeau said during the wide-ranging interview in Ottawa this week.

“That is something we are hearing from some very specific places across the country but not everywhere across the country. And we feel that it would be a solid step to move forward and give cities and provinces those tools to do that.”

The group PolySeSouvient, a leading voice for gun control, is pushing for a truly national handgun ban, arguing local ones are generally ineffective, as what it calls the “disastrous patchwork of local and state laws” in the United States demonstrates.

READ MORE: Nearly 80% of British Columbians support a ban on handguns in cities

Local bans would also have to overcome “enormous obstacles,” including provincial governments ideologically opposed to gun control and an array of legal and jurisdictional complexities, the group recently warned in a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has already signalled opposition to banning handguns despite support for the idea from Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The federal government’s preference is to hand some powers over firearms to the provinces, which would in turn allow for municipal regulation, Trudeau said.

“In some situations, we may have a province that is unwilling to do that despite the willingness of a city or cities to do that,” he said. “At which point, I have been assured, there are other tools we can use that wouldn’t be as ideal, because it would involve disagreements with the provinces at a time where we want to be collaborative.”

Trudeau declined to elaborate on any alternative measure, “because it’s something we hope to not have to use.”

He stressed that further restrictions represent just one element of the federal strategy on handguns.

The government will push ahead with plans to prevent smuggling of pistols into Canada, collect more information about purchases from retailers, and ensure more secure storage of firearms in shops and homes to deter theft, he said.

The Liberals also see spending on anti-gang programs, community centres and local policing as key to reducing urban violence.

They promise to move quickly on a commitment to outlaw assault-style firearms, including the popular AR-15, saying guns designed to inflict mass casualties have no place in Canada. Owners of legally purchased firearms that fall under the ban will be offered fair-market prices through a buyback program.

The prime minister played down the notion his government’s minority status affords little time to usher in tighter gun control.

“Our primary concern is getting it right,” he said. “But even in a minority situation we’ve seen that there is a very clear consensus from three of the parties in the House — us, the NDP and the Bloc — that moving forward on much stronger gun control is a priority.”

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 case confirmed at Highstreet Walmart in Abbotsford

Fraser Health sends out letter to those who might have had contact with individual

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Public participation is coming back to Chilliwack council meetings

City of Chilliwack will use Zoom video conferencing to allow the public to make presentations

VIDEO: Trees fall into Vedder River as loop trail damaged by erosion

High stream flows directed at river bank caused section of Vedder Rotary loop trail to erode

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows dentist gets grand welcome home after two-month COVID-19 battle

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read