The Canadian Minister of Organized Crime Reduction and Border Security, Bill Blair says that measures must be taken to address gun violence in Canada but that no ban or other regulation will be voted before the coming federal elections.
Entering a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, the minister confirmed that there will be no ban on handguns, as requested earlier by Toronto and Montreal, or “assault style” weapons until the fall election but he is ready to let municipalities consider further restrictions of their own.
Liberals have new measures in mind
Blair explained that Liberals wanted to impose new measures to reduce the ability of criminals to get access to firearms to commit violent crimes. These measures would include additional requirements regarding safe storage, measures to stop straw purchases and a more secure border.
When asked about whether the Liberals will ban assault weapons he replied: “It’s certainly my recommendation.”
The idea of banning “assault-style” weapons is supported by anti-gun groups such as PolySeSouvient, or PolyRemembers, a gun control citizen advocacy group but they are not fully satisfied by Bill Blair’s announcement.
At the end of May, the Liberal government passed a new bill to further regulate gun owners, which has sparked considerable debate in Canadian society.
Legal gun owners might have to do more
Gun lobbies have long opposed new regulations stating that most gun owners are law abiding and that measures should be taken to tackle the illegal market rather than responsible citizens.
Tracey Wilson from the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights reacted to M. Blair intervention by saying:
“Assault weapons” or “assault-style” are not actually legal terms in Canadian law.
Canada has three classes of firearms: non-restricted (which includes most hunting rifles and shotguns, or “long guns”), restricted (which includes most handguns and semi-automatic weapons) and prohibited (certain concealable handguns and fully automatic firearms).
When people talk about “assault-style” weapons, they generally refer to firearms that are at least semi-automatic, can fire large amounts of ammunition and are designed for rapid fire.
To be legally sold in Canada, all semi-automatic rifle and shotgun magazines are limited to five rounds. Modifying magazines to increase their capacity is also a crime in Canada.
The minister said there are roughly 200,000 so-called “assault-style” firearms in Canada that he would like to ban. To what Tracey Wilson replied by saying that buying back this number of guns would cost taxpayers a lot of money.
Bill Blair acknowledged that they were responsible gun owners in Canada and that he respected their efforts but that the government might ask them to do more.
Give more power to municipalities
The Minister of Organized Crime Reduction and Border Security also specified that the government was aware that some major cities were facing additional challenges and they were considering giving more power to municipalities regarding gun regulations.
This prospect frightens PolySeSouvient.
No measures until the next elections
Blair also said that it was important not only to do the right thing, but to take the time to do it right.
And time is what the Liberals are lacking. The House of Commons adjourns at the end of this week and the elected officials will not return to Ottawa before the election is called.
On Saturday, the PolySeSouvient group issued a press release as the Globe and Mail reported on Minister Blair’s intentions with respect to “assault-style” weapons.
“Why not take action now? asked Rathjen. Canadians need to be convinced that this time, the promise to get rid of assault weapons is more than just words,” she wrote.
With files from The Canadian Press