Canada bans assault weapons in wake of deadly mass shooting

By Ian Austen
The New York Times Company

OTTAWA, Ontario — Nearly two weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday introduced an immediate ban on what he described as “military-style assault weapons.”

“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 ban means that Canadians will no longer be able to own rifles like the AR-15, the military-style weapon used in several mass shootings in the United States including those in Newtown, Connecticut; Orlando, Florida; and Parkland, Florida.

By introducing the ban, Trudeau partly fulfills a gun control promise he made during last year’s federal elections. The prime minister said the government had been in the process of introducing an assault weapons ban when its agenda was overturned by the coronavirus pandemic.

In making the announcement, Trudeau noted several gun killings and repeatedly cited the shooting rampage in rural Nova Scotia that left 23 people dead, including the gunman.

The gunman’s arsenal included two models banned Friday, said Bill Blair, the country’s public safety minister.

The swift response by Trudeau to the killings in Nova Scotia stands in contrast to that of officials in the United States, where efforts to renew the now lapsed assault weapons ban have failed.

The Canadian government has drawn up a list of about 1,500 gun models covered by the ban. It estimates that about 100,000 such semi-automatic rifles are now legally owned by Canadians.

Trudeau said the government would introduce legislation to buy back the rifles, another part of his campaign promise, at a future date. Until then, owners have been given two years to keep their rifles, although they can no longer use them, trade them or sell them except to buyers outside Canada with a permit. Gun shops can return any of the weapons they now have in stock to manufacturers.

Trudeau said Friday that his planned legislation will also include a measure that will allow cities to ban handguns within their boundaries.

Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, repeated his long-standing opposition to any ban and buyback of military-style weapons. He also criticized Trudeau for introducing the measure through a Cabinet order while Parliament is not meeting in normal sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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