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Canada introduces new gun buy-back program as firearms legislation tabled

(CREDIT: CityNews Toronto)

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the measures will be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.

“We will move forward with the buy-back program in the coming months and complete the prohibition to ensure these weapons cannot be legally used, transferred, transported, bequeathed, or sold,” Justin Trudeau said.

“Banning 1,500 models of assault-style weapons last year was a critical step, but we also need to continue to fight the illegal gun market. That’s why we will increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, and enhance the capacity of police and border officials to keep illegal firearms out of the country,” Trudeau explained.

“At the same time, we will also create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine of a firearm and introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition,” he added.

Bill C-21 also allows municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation. Measures will be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.

“Gun ownership in Canada, in this country, is a privilege and not a right. It’s a privilege that’s predicated on the strict adherence to our laws, our regulations, and our restrictions,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair noted.

“It’s a principle. It’s based on the fact that firearms in Canada are intended for use for hunting or for sports purposes. We do not arm ourselves in this country to protect ourselves from our fellow citizens. We rely on the rule of law, not the end of a gun, for our safety,” Blair added.

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

The bill would also increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, and enhance the capacity of police and border officers to keep illegal firearms out of the country.

It would also create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine of a firearm and introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition.

-With files from The Canadian Press