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New gun legislation 'doesn't target law-abiding gun owners,' safety minister says


Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino isn’t ruling out the possibility of a national ban on handguns in Canada, saying the federal government is leaving “all options on the table.”

In an interview on CTV’s Question Period, Mendicino said Ottawa’s newly introduced gun-control bill is a “step in the right direction” to mitigate gun violence across the country but it won’t eliminate the problem altogether.

“Bill C-21, while it is a significant stride and the most ambitious in a generation, by itself, will not eradicate gun violence. We have to invest in our police, we have to make sure that we are protecting our borders, we have to introduce smart gun policy and we also have to make sure that we are addressing gun crime at its root cause,” he said.

“It's not about picking one. It's about doing all of them at the same time.”

On Monday, Ottawa announced the proposed legislation, which in part puts a national freeze on importing, buying, selling or otherwise transferring handguns.

It doesn’t outright ban the firearm, allowing current owners to continue to possess and use them, but aims to restrict the number already in Canada.

Among other measures, it also would permit the removal of gun licenses from people who commit acts of domestic violence, provide more tools to investigate firearm crimes, strengthen border measures to prevent firearm smuggling, and create a new “red flag” law requiring people who consider themselves a danger to themselves or others to surrender their firearms to police.

Critics of the bill, and specifically the handgun freeze, say it unfairly targets highly-vetted, legal firearm owners instead of criminals who obtain guns illegally.

Mendicino refuted this assertion.

“Bill C-21 doesn't target law-abiding gun owners, it targets handgun violence, it targets organized crime,” he said.

“I have enormous respect for law-abiding gun owners and have engaged with them and I've visited some of my opposition colleagues' ridings to talk with them. But the fact of the matter remains that Statistics Canada reports that gun violence is on the rise, handgun violence specifically is on the rise.”

The federal government had previously committed to work province-by-province on handgun bans, which gun-control advocates argued would only create a patchwork system of differing approaches.

In 2020, Ottawa banned 1,500 assault-style weapons and at the same time announced a forthcoming buyback program.

Asked when the buyback program would commence, Mendicino said they are determined to begin the process “by the end of this year.”

With files from The Canadian Press.




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