Gun Control Laws: Canada to amend its gun laws while USA continues to crawl
After 20 mass shootings that took place over nine days last fortnight in various parts of the United States, has prompted Canada to review its gun policy while America continues to crawl.
Two mass shootings a day was too alarming to go without a stern follow up action. Intriguingly, the United States Congress has remained gridlocked on the issue even though an animated debate on gun control has been ravaging for a decade.
When the President Joy Biden and the first lady went to Uvalde to share the grief of the families who lost their near and dear ones in the mass shooting, he remarked that “enough is enough” signalling need to control guns. Getting through the Congress on any legislation on gun control would be an issue for the President Biden.
|While the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited the horrific killings by getting his Minister for Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, to move Bill C-21 (An Act to amend certain Acts to make certain consequential Amendments (Firearms), his concerns about the growing incidents of mass shootings became apparent.Given the gravity of the situation, there is an urgency and growing pressure from the anti-gun lobby to create a “gun free atmosphere.” Mass shootings in Uvalde elementary school and Oklahoma medical centre besides shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo have raised serious public safety concerns at generally unguarded places.|
After introduction of the Bill in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at a Press Conference his government’s proposal to introduce freeze on handgun ownership that would also effectively ban handguns importation and sale.
The first reading of the bill has been gone through. The ruling Liberals, being in minority, will need support of other parties to see it through.
“We’re introducing legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership,” Trudeau announced at a Press Conference. He was joined by dozens of families and friends of victims of gun violence.
“What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” he said. “In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns.”
Days after Canada’s worst mass shooting left 23 dead in rural Nova Scotia in April 2020, the government banned 1,500 types of military-grade or assault-style firearms.
At the Press Briefer, Prime Minister Trudeau admitted that the gun violence was continuing to rise.
Statistics Canada reported recently that firearms-related violent crimes account for less than three percent of all violent crimes in Canada.
Since 2009 the per capita rate of guns being pointed at someone has nearly tripled, while the rate at which a gun was fired with an intent to kill or wound is up five-fold.
Almost two-thirds of gun crimes in urban areas involved handguns.
Police often point to smuggling from the United States — which is reeling from recent shootings at a school in Texas and at a supermarket in New York state — as the main source of handguns.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who introduced the Bill C-21, estimated there were about one million handguns in this country — up significantly from a decade ago.
Trudeau commented, “People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear. People should be free to go to the park or to a birthday party without worrying about what might happen from a stray bullet.
“Gun violence is a complex problem,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the math is really quite simple: the fewer the guns in our communities, the safer everyone will be.”
The proposed law would also strip anyone involved in domestic violence or stalking of their firearms license, and take away guns from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, as well as strengthen border security and criminal penalties for gun trafficking.
It would also ban long-gun magazines capable of holding more than five bullets.
|Incidents of the last fortnight saw Canada moving swiftly to freeze the selling, gifting, trading and importing of handguns. Technically, it is not only a ban on handguns but it does mean that the number of handguns legally owned by Canadians outside of the military and the police will not increase from the estimated 900,000 owned now.|
|The proposed legislation, however, goes beyond the freeze and the ban. It would strip people of their firearms licenses if they had been involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment, increase penalties for firearms offenses and require people whom a judge has found to be a threat to themselves or others to turn over their guns to the police.|
|The government plans to have formal guidance for gun owners, gun shops and the small number of people exempt from the new rules (including Olympic and Paralympic athletes) within the next few weeks. Given the time lag involved in obtaining a firearms license, the government also hopes to prevent people who don’t already hold licenses from stocking up on guns last minute before the new directives go into effect.|
|At least one aspect of gun laws is not changing: the rules that basically limit handgun use to target practice at an approved firing range. At home, handgun owners must continue to keep their weapons locked up.|
|And it’s still illegal to use a handgun against another person in any circumstance..|
|The proposed legislation and change to the handgun rules have come in for praise from several gun control groups.|
|“There is no ‘right to own’ guns in this country,” Wendy Cukier, the president of the Coalition for Gun Control, said in a statement. “Legal handguns are a significant source of handguns used in crime and are the guns most often used in mass shootings.”|
|On the other hand, Raquel Dancho, the Conservative member of Parliament who speaks for the party on public safety matters, raised her concerns over the proposed amendments. Criticizing the bill on Twitter, she says it does not deal with what she feels as the “the root cause of gun violence in our cities: illegal guns smuggled into Canada by criminal gangs.” It may be pertinent to mention that last year the Canada Border Services Agency announced a joint task force with its counterpart in the United States to stem the cross-border flow of guns.|
|While welcoming the changes John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, called for a national ban on handguns.|
|Many still hold that there has been no way of knowing if the handgun freeze and the assault weapon buyback program will affect gun crimes and gun-related suicides. A review of international firearms legislation, prepared by the public safety department’s research division in 2020 and released under access-to-information laws, found “little to no quantitative evidence for the effectiveness of firearm buyback programs in reducing firearm violence.”|