Liberals pledge to work with willing provinces to ban handguns

, Liberals pledge to work with willing provinces to ban handguns, Nzuchi Times National News

The Liberals previously introduced, but did not pass, a sweeping gun bill that included banning certain weapons and allowing municipalities to ban handguns

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OTTAWA – The Liberals’ throne speech promised to work with provinces and territories to allow them to ban handguns, going further than the government had proposed previously in allowing cities to ban the weapons.

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“Gun violence is on the rise in many of our biggest cities. While investing in prevention and supporting the work of law enforcement, we must also continue to strengthen gun control,” reads the speech delivered in the Senate on Tuesday.

“The government will now put forward measures like a mandatory buyback of banned assault-style weapons, and move forward with any province or territory that wants to ban handguns.”

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino said the government wants to do whatever is required to deal with gun violence.

“We’ve seen too many innocent lives lost. And certainly that is true in my hometown in Toronto and in many other parts of the country,” he said. “If municipalities and provinces are ready to engage the federal government on looking at additional ways, on how we can get illegal guns, including handguns out of our communities, then my door and this government’s door will remain open.”

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In the last Parliament, the Liberals introduced, but did not pass, a sweeping gun bill that included measures limiting the capacity of rifle magazines, banning certain weapons and allowing municipalities to ban handguns within their jurisdiction. The bill died with the election in August and the Liberals will have to reintroduce the legislation in this Parliament.

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Under the bill, a city like Toronto could pass a bylaw banning handguns and the federal government would respect it by refusing to license handgun owners who live within the city and intend to store their weapons there.

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A provincial ban could operate differently because provinces have more constitutional authorities and might not need federal legislation to ban handguns. But the Liberals could also pass federal legislation alongside provincial rules that would prevent people in those provinces from getting a licence for a handgun.

To legally own a handgun in Canada requires owners to take a two-day safety course, a waiting period and background check. Owners are also restricted to using the weapon at shooting ranges.

After a recent shooting, where a 16-year-old boy was killed, Quebec Premier François Legault and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante asked the federal government for a national handgun ban.

Saskatchewan’s government in contrast passed legislation specifically preventing municipalities from banning handguns.

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The Liberals pledged $1 billion in their platform to help provinces with the cost if they wanted to restrict handguns.

, Liberals pledge to work with willing provinces to ban handguns, Nzuchi Times National News

Mendocino said his government is prepared to work with provinces or municipalities who want to restrict the weapons.

“What you saw yesterday in the throne speech was a concrete commitment to continue to put into place programs around buybacks, but also to work very closely with provinces and other levels of government to ensure that we take additional strong action to get illegal guns out of our communities, particularly handguns,” he said. “If the government of Quebec wants to work with the federal government to take additional strong action against getting guns out of our communities, we’ll be there.”

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He didn’t lay out a specific timeline for what might come next, but said the government would move, “as quickly as possible.”

Conservative Public Safety critic Raquel Dancho said the Liberals are focusing on the wrong target.

“The simple fact is that every dollar spent taking a firearm away from a law-abiding firearm owner is a dollar not going to fight the core issue of firearm crime in Canada – illegally smuggled guns,” she said in a statement.

She said the government has now had six years to address the issue and is yet to come up with a real plan.

“Violent crime has only gone up under Trudeau and what we are seeing is more of the same from the Liberals — ineffective and costly programs that do nothing to keep our communities safe.”

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