Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this Monday at a press conference the presentation of a bill that includes an almost total moratorium on the sale, transfer and importation of firearms for individuals. The text provides for some exceptions to the prohibition of the acquisition of weapons by individuals, but limits their total number on a national scale and vetoes them for those who have committed crimes such as sexist violence. This legislative project, which rescues some measures that were shelved last year in the context of the national elections, comes just one week after a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers at their school in Uvalde, Texas, in the neighboring United States. Joined.
Trudeau implicitly alluded to what happened in that school, stating, during his appearance, “we only have to look south of the border to know that if we do not act firmly and quickly, the situation will get worse and more difficult to contain. ”. The prime minister told reporters that “other than the use of firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason why anyone in Canada needs weapons in their daily lives.” Although the Liberals are in a minority in Parliament, this legislation could pass with the support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party.
The Minister of Public Security of Canada, Marco Mendicino, was in charge of presenting the bill -baptized as C-21- in the House of Commons (lower) of the Canadian Parliament. “The bill that we have just introduced represents a milestone in the midst of a long and difficult battle that takes place in our streets every day (…) a battle that has claimed too many lives, leaving empty chairs at the table and empty desks in classrooms. Mendicino stressed.
The bill rescues some federal measures that were postponed before the general elections of September 20, 2021 in Canada and puts into practice some new proposals made during the electoral campaign. If passed, this new legislation will in all cases prevent anyone subject to a restraining order or who has engaged in domestic violence or stalking from obtaining or maintaining a gun license.
It will also require magazines for long guns such as rifles to be permanently modified so they can hold no more than five rounds and will ban the sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines. The bill also provides for increased criminal penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking and a “red flag” law that would force people considered a threat to themselves or others to hand over their firearms to government forces. order.
The text also includes a ban on toys that look like real weapons such as airsoft rifles. “Because they look like real firearms, police must treat them as if they were real. This has had tragic consequences,” Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters. Last week, Toronto police shot and killed a man who was carrying a pellet gun.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, welcomed some of the measures, such as the one regarding perpetrators of sexist violence and the ban on fake weapons, which he defined as a “great challenge”. “You cannot distinguish between what is a replica firearm and what is a real firearm, especially when these replica-related incidents often occur in very dynamic and rapidly evolving circumstances,” Stamatakis stressed.
Other exceptions to this moratorium, in addition to the one on elite sports shooters and hunting weapons, will benefit people with disabilities and security guards. Canadians who already own firearms will also be able to keep them. Authorities do not expect a race to buy weapons before this bill is passed, because their acquisition is already highly regulated, a government official told a briefing.
Canada has stricter gun sales laws than the United States. Its gun homicide rate is less than a fifth of that of the United States, but higher than other rich countries and rising. In 2020, this rate was five times that of Australia. In 2017 and 2020, homicide figures for this cause were reached never before recorded since 1997, according to official Canadian statistics.
Two years ago, the country banned the sale and use of some 1,500 models of assault weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle, in the wake of a mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia, a measure that a collective of gun owners of fire challenged in court. Together with Trudeau, Minister Mendicino confirmed the “imminent launch of the initial phase” of a program to buy back and compensate the owners of those weapons.
The director of the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights, Rod Giltaca, criticized this possible moratorium on firearms, calling it “absurd”. Giltaca argued that authorities were not using the tools they already have to deal with gun violence.