Nearly two weeks after the country’s deadliest mass shooting that killed 22 people in Nova Scotia, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on assault-style weapons on Friday, 1 May 2020. The ban not only involves sales of the firearm but also possession and owners need to relinquish their assault weapons in two years.
“For many families, including many indigenous people, firearms are part of traditions passed down through generations and the vast majority of gun owners use them safely, responsibly, and in accordance with the law, whether it be for work, sport shooting, for collecting, or for hunting,” Trudeau said.
“But you don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer. So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, self, transport, import, or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country.”
The ban includes more than 1500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, including two guns used by the gunman as well as the AR-15 and other weapons that have been used in a number of mass shootings.
Trudeau’s move follows a similar ban announced in New Zealand following the Christchurch shooting on 15 March 2019.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada,” Trudeau said in a briefing where he announced the decision.
A two-year amnesty period was announced for gun owners.
“To protect law-abiding gun owners from criminal liability until they can take steps to comply with this new law, there will be a two-year amnesty period. We will legislate fair compensation,” Trudeau said.
“Enough is enough,” public safety minister Bill Blair said. “Banning assault-style firearms will save Canadian lives. These guns have no legitimate civilian purpose.”
However, the decision was met with backlash from the conservative opposition party.
In a statement released, leader Andrew Scheer denounced the ban and said “Trudeau is using the current pandemic and immediate emotion of the horrific attach in Nova Scotia to push the Liberals’ ideological agenda and make major firearms policy changes. That is wrong.”
He added that a majority of gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained firearms and Trudeau’s decision did not address this issue.
He further said that the Nova Scotia shooting did not have a firearms license and had illegally obtained his guns.
“Taking firearms from law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals who obtain their guns illegally,” Scheer said.