Rifles are shown locked up in Calgary, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Rifles are shown locked up in Calgary, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Trudeau government would allow municipalities to ban handguns under new bill

Bill also proposes a buyback of recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapon

Newly tabled gun legislation would allow municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation.

The Liberal government said Tuesday the measures would be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.

Under the plan, firearms licence holders would have to comply with handgun storage and transport restrictions in municipalities that pass bylaws.

Such bylaws could forbid keeping handguns at home, meaning they would have to be stored at a licensed business, or they might go further by outlawing handguns anywhere in a municipality.

Many gun-control advocates have called for a national handgun ban, warning that leaving it up to municipalities would create an ineffective patchwork of regulations.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, citing a recent uptick in gang-related shootings, promptly announced plans to ask city council to use the new powers, should they become law, to implement a handgun ban.

As expected, the bill also proposes a buyback of a wide array of recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapons.

Owners could turn in their guns for compensation but would also be able to keep them as long as they abide by strict conditions, including secure storage.

Under the rules, these guns could not be legally used, transported, sold, transferred or bequeathed by individuals in Canada.

They would become “virtually useless as a firearm,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said at a news conference, calling the federal plan “overwhelmingly the most effective way” to deal with the outlawed guns.

The government had faced pressure to make the buyback mandatory — like programs in Australia and New Zealand — to ensure as many banned guns as possible are turned in.

“This is a huge win for the gun lobby,” said Heidi Rathjen, a witness to the Ecole Polytechnique shooting massacre in 1989 who is co-ordinator of the group PolySeSouvient.

She called it an “easily reversible half-measure” that buys the gun lobby time to work toward election of the Conservatives, who oppose the ban.

Suzanne Laplante-Edward, whose daughter Anne-Marie was killed at Polytechnique, said the optional buyback was a total betrayal.

“My family and I have fought for three decades to ban these weapons,” she said.

“We thought we had won in the fall of 2019 when the Liberals announced with much pomp and circumstance that they would ban and buy back all of these killing machines. They lied to us. They lied to Canadians.”

Some gun owners strongly oppose the ban of some 1,500 firearm models and variants altogether and seek to overturn it through the courts.

Conservative public safety critic Shannon Stubbs accused the government of taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens, saying it “does nothing to stop dangerous criminals and gangs who obtain their guns illegally.”

The bill would also:

— Introduce new “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws that would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of a person’s firearms, or to ask a chief firearms officer to suspend and review an individual’s licence to own guns;

— Target gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and by boosting the capacity of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms;

— Create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a gun and depicting violence in firearms advertising;

— Introduce tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and ensure the prohibition of imports, exports, sales and transfers of all replica firearms.

In Canada, no one should ever have to be afraid and action must be taken to prevent more tragedies, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The right place to act is here, and the right time is now.”

READ MORE: Feds ban more than 1,500 assault-style rifles in Canada

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

gunsJustin Trudeau

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

Just Posted

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Brian Combes after getting keys to his new house on April 9, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Homeless no more on Skwah First Nation after 20 years

Brian Combes gets the keys to his newly built home near Chilliwack

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom is offering free school tours of The Pencil Patch learning garden in Abbotsford in April, May and June.
Agriculture in the Classroom offers free school tours at learning garden

The Pencil Patch in Abbotsford provides 15 outdoor learning stations

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read