In Toronto, which has been the scene of much illegal gang violence and shootings, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced that if elected he would ban military style "assault" guns along with other firearms restrictions (Sean Kilpatrick)

Liberals propose ban on ‘military-style’ guns, tighter restrictions on others

As the so-called “blackface” scandal still dogs him, today on the election campaign trail the leader of the outgoing Liberal government, Justin Trudeau announced his party’s policy on firearms.

He proposed that if re-elected the Liberals would ban so-called military style “assault rifles”, presumably referring to modern sport rifles.  He also announced there would be a buyback programme.

In making the announcement, Trudeau said, “You don’t need a military-grade assault weapon, one designed to take down the most amount of people in the shortest time, to take down a deer.”

The modern sport rifle is popular and widely used by Canadian hunters. (CCFR)

He also announced an increase on controls to remove firearms from potentially dangerous individuals, such as in cases of domestic violence, along with further requirements for safe storage of firearms, and controls on firearms marketing. An additional proposal was to allow municipalities to institute their own bans or restrictions on handguns.

During the announcement Trudeau also claimed that “Liberals are for tougher gun laws, and Conservatives are for weaker gun laws”

Reaction was swift

The Conservative Party responded in a statement saying,

“For four years Justin Trudeau has failed to address gun crime, and suddenly today Trudeau has decided there is a need to target law-abiding gun owners. Criminals do not register their firearms, and they will not comply with these new rules. Justin Trudeau’s approach also fails to introduce stricter penalties for criminals who smuggle guns across the border and into Canadian cities. Trudeau’s plan will also force police to target law-abiding citizens, wasting valuable resources and distracting law enforcement from stopping violent criminals.”

The statement went on to describe a number of policies to instead target violent crime in a policy they call “A Safer Canada”. This includes such things as ending automatic bail for gang members, identify gangs within the criminal code, ensure a smuggled guns means a jail sentence, and provide more support to keep young people from joining gangs.

Reaction on other fronts was also quick in coming.

Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association stated, ”It’s disappointing but typical for the Liberals to attack Canada’s 2.2 million lawful firearms owners whenever they get into deep trouble (…) the go-to “whipping boy” of the Liberal party- guaranteed to deflect attention away from the latest Liberal scandals. Trudeau’s announcement raises more questions than answers. The Liberals have been unable to define what a “military-style assault weapon” is, or their role within crime. Trudeaus hyperbolic rhetoric is purely designed to whip up public sentiment against our community and deflect from his own electoral problems, despite the statistical evidence that firearms owners are the most law-abiding people in our country”.

Tony Bernardo is the executive-director of the gun owner advocacy group, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.. PHOTO: CSSA

While there is no official Canadian definition for “assault rifle”, Bernardo and others, including the Canadian police magazine Blue Line, define assault rifles as having fully automatic capability. Sales and possession of such firearms have been banned in Canada since 1977.

On the other side of the deeply dividing gun debate , Heidi Rathgen of the gun-control lobby group Poly Remembers, issued a statement as well.  “We are mostly happy but also disappointed. The commitment to ban on assault weapons is great news, full stop. The emphasis on buyback programs as opposed to only grandfathering existing weapons is very positive.(…) As for handguns, the intent to hand over responsibility for further restrictions to municipalities is a disappointment. As we’ve repeatedly said, banning handguns in some but not all municipalities would not only be inadequate, considering the risks involved, but it would also be inefficient”

Heidi Rathgen,, co-ordinator of Poly Remembers, says she is both pleased and disappointed, (Doug Husby-CBC)

The Green party has proposed sweeping bans on so-called “assault guns” and handguns. The New Democratic Party wants to give cities the power to ban handguns, but also says the root causes of gang violence should be addressed.

The only agreement so far is that more information and details are needed on the Liberal proposals. Responding to a question during the announcement, Trudeau said more details would be coming

Additional information-sources

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