Published: Thu, February 18, 2021
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Feds table firearms legislation and plan optional gun buyback program

Feds table firearms legislation and plan optional gun buyback program

Those bylaws will come with serious penalties including jail time for anyone who violates them.

Bill C-21 would effectively end all legal use of the 1,500 assault-style weapons banned following a mass shooting in Nova Scotia that killed 22 people in April of previous year.

Federal government officials said cities can not act alone and that provincial governments, several of which have indicated they do not support banning handguns, would have ultimate jurisdiction.

The mayors of Canada's two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, have advocated for a national handgun ban as gun violence worsens in those cities.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair was upbeat but vague as to the utility of the proposed legislation, given that some provinces have already moved to block it.

Owners could turn in their guns for compensation but would also have the option of keeping them as long as the owners abide by strict conditions, including secure storage. "They can't be shot, they can't be traded, they can't be transported, they can't be sold and they can't be bequeathed", he explains.

This is coupled with a buyback program for the banned weapons that were purchased legally before their sale was outlawed and red flag laws.

"This is a huge win for the gun lobby", said Heidi Rathjen, a witness to the Ecole Polytechnique shooting massacre in 1989 who is coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient.

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

The government says they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a voluntary buy-back program. "My family and I have fought for three decades to ban these weapons", said Suzanne Laplante Edward, whose daughter Anne-Marie was one of 14 young women shot and killed at Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. "They lied to Canadians".

Asked if the optional buyback was a calculation meant to ease opposition from the gun lobby, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Obviously, there are political elements in this".

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

If the bill is passed, any owner who doesn't surrender a banned weapon will be held responsible if it is later used in a crime.

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

During his presentation, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair reminded Canadians gun ownership in Canada is a privilege and not a right.

"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. The measures we are proposing are concrete and practical, and they have one goal and one goal only.

"Today's announcement builds on the important measures our government has already taken to keep Canadians safe in their communities".

"This is a comprehensive bill that, if enacted, will save lives", said Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-Chair of CDPG and trauma surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

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