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Trudeau announces ban on 1,500 types of 'military-style' guns

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is banning a range of assault-style guns, with an order that takes effect immediately.

He says the order has a two-year amnesty period for current owners, and there will be a compensation program.

The announcement comes two weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history. On April 18 and 19, 22 people were killed during a gunman’s rampage in Nova Scotia. The weapons used in this attack are included in the list of firearms now banned, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair noted, however, the exact make and model of the long guns used haven’t been publicly released.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: To kill the largest number of people, in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

The order will not apply to hunting-style firearms.

“For many families, including many Indigenous people, firearms are part of traditions passed down through generations. And the vast majority of gun owners use them safely, responsibly, and in accordance with the law, whether it be for work, sport shooting, for collecting, or for hunting,” Trudeau said. “But you don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the horror that unfolded in Nova Scotia in April strengthens the resolve to keep dangerous firearms out of civilians’ hands and off Canadian streets. She said the fetishization makes Canada more dangerous, especially to the most vulnerable people, like women and girls.

The cabinet order he describes doesn’t forbid owning any of 1,500 ‘military-style’ weapons and their variants but it does ban the trade in them.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says guns that have no use in sport shooting have been a growing part of the Canadian market.

Stricter controls on firearms were a promise in the Liberals’ election campaign platform last fall.

Meanwhile, the federal Conservative Party is pushing back at the Liberals, saying the prime minister is using the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the “immediate emotion” of the Nova Scotia massacre “to push the Liberals’ ideological agenda and make major firearms policy changes.”

In a statement, Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says that’s wrong.

“The Trudeau Liberals have made it clear throughout this crisis that they do not respect the democratic role of Parliament. That cannot continue,” Scheer’s statement reads. “If the Prime Minister has the strength of his convictions, he should wait until the health crisis has passed and introduce legislation in the House of Commons, so that it can be debated, and Canadians’ voices can be heard.”

While he notes Canadians “are rightfully upset” by what took place in Nova Scotia two weeks ago, Scheer’s statement says there are still many questions that remain around the RCMP’s response and whether the tragedy could have been prevented in the first place.

He also pointed out, as has been reported and confirmed by the RCMP, that the gunman in the Nova Scotia shootings obtained the firearms he used without a licence.

The Conservatives say they will continue to push the government to create a plan that “includes support for police anti-gang and gun units, a CBSA Firearms Smuggling Task Force, support for courts and prosecutors, tougher sentences for violent offenders, and action on rural crime.”

The Opposition party is also calling on the government to increase mental health and addiction treatment supports.

-With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney, Hana Mae Nassar, Liza Yuzda, and Martin MacMahon.