Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced an “assault weapons” ban following a massacre in Nova Scotia that left 22 people dead. The ban will create a new definition for “assault weapon” and will specifically target 1,500 models of “military-style” rifles and shotguns, according to the CBC.
The ban is effective immediately, and prohibits licensed gun owners from selling, transporting, importing or using any of the now-banned weapons. Trudeau plans to ram the measure through using an administrative tool called an “Order in Council” rather than pass the ban in Parliament.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only — only to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said.
“As of today, the market for assault weapons in Canada is closed,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair added. “Enough is enough — banning these firearms will save Canadian lives.”
Those who legally possess any type of now-prohibited firearm will never again be allowed to use their weapons in any fashion. There will be a two-year amnesty period during which those owners will be allowed to keep their rifles and shotguns legally. After those two years are up, Canadian gun owners will be required to either surrender their firearms to law enforcement as part of a buyback program or comply with a to-be-announced grandfather process.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that the Novia Scotia mass murderer was not licensed to own firearms in Canada. They claim that at least one “assault-style weapon“ was among his illegal arsenal, but an RCMP spokesperson refused to confirm whether that weapon was used in the shooting. Instead, he reiterated a previous claim that witnesses had seen the suspect using handguns and “long-barreled” firearms.
(It’s also worth noting that the CBC began experiencing “problems with the feed” while the spokesperson was clarifying his remarks about the type of firearm the suspect used.)
Despite the uncertainty around the suspect’s weapons and his ability to acquire them illegally, Trudeau nonetheless used the tragedy as a justification for the new law.
“These tragedies reverberate still. They shape our identity, they stain our conscience, they make adults out of children and the heartbreaking truth is they’re happening more often than they once did,” Trudeau said.
“Their families deserve more than thoughts and prayers. Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.”
Canadian Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pointed out that Trudeau’s ban would have done nothing to stop the Nova Scotia murderer, who seems to have acquired some of his firearms across the U.S. border.
The government’s ban is “symbolism over substance,” he said, and it does nothing to target smugglers or those who illegally modify firearms.
“We know the Liberal approach is to ask law-abiding firearms owners to follow more laws — that’s lazy and ineffective,” Scheer told the CBC. “It’s easy but lazy.”
A petition urging the government to pass any new firearms restrictions via Parliament rather than executive fiat has garnered over 175,000 signatures, the most of any petition in the House of Commons to date, according to TheGunBlog.ca.
“People are appalled by what Trudeau is doing and how he is doing it,” TheGunBlog.ca founder Nicolas Johnson told GunsAmerica, describing the response of Canadian gun owners. “Everyone I know is considering every option possible to stop or reverse this and restore justice for gun owners.”
According to the technical document released by the government, the new ban will target a wide variety of firearms, including the AR-10, AR-15, M4, M16, Beretta Cx4 Storm, CSA Vz. 58, CZ Scorpion EVO 3, CZ 858, Robinson Armament XCR, Ruger Mini-14, SIG Sauer MCX, SIG Sauer MPX, Swiss Arms Classic Green and Four Seasons series rifles, and U.S. Rifle M14.
The total number of prohibited firearms is unknown, but there are at least 105,000 firearms that were “restricted” but will now be banned.