Canada moved to make the sale of handguns illegal under a sweeping new bill introduced in Ottawa Monday in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.
Flanked by government officials and advocates, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a “national freeze” on firearms in the country as he referenced increasing homicides in Canada and alluded to recent mass shootings south of the border.
“It will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada. In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns,” Trudeau said.
“People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear.”
The legislation is all but assured to be approved by Canada’s Parliament, and is expected to be enacted this fall. The country has already unveiled plans to ban 1,500 types of military-style firearms and implement a mandatory buyback program of high-capacity weapons.
Trudeau has long said capping gun violence in the country was a political priority, but his new legislation came less than a week after the Robb Elementary School shooting and soon after a Buffalo supermarket rampage near Ontario’s border.
“In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege, not a right,” said Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness.
“This is a principle that differentiates ourselves from many other countries in the world, notably our colleagues and friends to the south. In Canada, guns are only intended to be used for hunting and sport purposes.”
Under the law, US gun smugglers would be hit with stronger criminal penalties and authorities would have more resources to crack down on guns making their way across the border.
Those convicted of domestic violence or criminal harassment would also lose their gun licenses and a “red flag” provision would require people considered a danger by the court system to surrender their weapons. Rifle magazines would have to be permanently altered to hold a maximum of five rounds under the bill.
“These are actions that doctors, experts and chiefs of police have been calling for for years, and we’re acting on their advice,” Trudeau said.
The homicide rate in Canada had surged in recent years with 743 murders recorded in 2020 — the most since 1991, according to government statistics. That same year, a mass shooting rampage in Nova Scotia left 22 people dead.
Tuesday’s tragedy in Texas led President Biden to call on US lawmakers to take action on gun control reform.
“As a nation, we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden said last week.
With AP wires