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Trudeau says firearms bill will go after 'some' hunting guns that are 'too dangerous in other contexts'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that while the federal government is not trying to go after the right to hunt through contentious gun control legislation, the Liberals "are going at some of the guns used to do it."

Trudeau said that this is because some of these firearms "are too dangerous in other contexts."

This fall, work in Parliament on the government's Bill C-21—initially focused on 'red flag' laws and restricting legal access to handguns—became the centre of controversy after the Liberals put forward an amendment that would enshrine in law a definition for "assault-style" weapons.

Under the proposed definition, hundreds of models of firearms would become prohibited, including some commonly used hunting rifles. This sparked an uproar among gun rights groups and opposition MPs who saw the belatedly proposed amendment as an attack on law-abiding gun owners. Indigenous leaders have also come out against the proposed legislation, voicing concerns about treaty rights infringement.

After defending their policy and accusing the Conservatives of "fearmongering," confusion remained about specifically which firearms could be caught in the crosshairs of the bill. After a series of heated exchanges in question period and at committee, the Liberals conceded that some fine-tuning may be required. 

In a year-end conversation with Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News Omar Sachedina, airing in full on Dec. 31, Trudeau offered more clarity on what that fine-tuning might look like, while making it clear that the Liberals do intend to go after some firearms used for hunting.

"Our focus now is on saying okay, there are some guns, yes, that we're going to have to take away from people who were using them to hunt," Trudeau said. "But, we're going to also make sure that you're able to buy other guns from a long list of guns that are accepted that are fine for hunting, whether it's rifles or shotguns. We're not going at the right to hunt in this country. We are going at some of the guns used to do it that are too dangerous in other contexts."

Seeking to further explain the Liberals' now much-scrutinized approach, the prime minister said that when they brought forward their ban on more than 1,500 models of "assault-style" firearms in 2020, the government was mindful that manufacturers would try to get around the ban with new models.

It was through this recently proposed definition focusing on certain weapon characteristics that the Liberals were looking to "make sure that ban continues into the future," he said. 

"There are some weapons that are used for hunting that unfortunately fall on the wrong side of the line. Not many, but there are some that are slightly overpowered or have too large a magazine capacity or technical reasons like that," Trudeau said. "Nobody wants assault-style weapons anywhere in this country. You don't use them for hunting, and you shouldn't have them for any other reason." 

Ahead of MPs picking back up on their now-halted committee study on the bill—including a yet-to-be-agreed-to proposal for cross-country hearings—Trudeau said he agrees more consultation is needed. 

"We need to consult more and work with Indigenous communities on it to make sure they understand we're not going after any of their traditional rights to hunt. Because obviously hunting is a huge part of life for many, many Canadians … and we fully respect that and we're going to protect that," the prime minister said.

You can watch the full interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on New Year's Eve. A conversation with the prime minister hosted by CTV's Omar Sachedina will air on Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. across the country. 



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