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Canada to ban import of handguns pending freeze

BBC News logo BBC News 3 days ago
Firearms remain popular in Canada, where ownership rules are strict © Reuters Firearms remain popular in Canada, where ownership rules are strict

Canada is to ban imports of handguns - part of a move that could see a total freeze on their purchase and sale.

The temporary ban - starting on 19 August - will be enforced until parliament passes strict new rules.

Handguns "have one purpose and one purpose only and that is to kill people," Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters on Friday.

The government's proposed total ban, unveiled in May, follows outrage over several deadly shootings.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed the legislation - known as bill C-21 - days after the Texas primary school shooting in the US which killed 21 people.

The bill would make it impossible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in the country.

Unlike in the US, gun ownership is not enshrined in Canada's constitution, but firearms are still popular, especially in rural parts of the country.

Canada already has stricter rules on gun ownership than its southern neighbour and records fewer firearm incidents every year.

For example, all guns must be kept locked and unloaded and anyone wishing to buy a firearm must undergo extensive background checks.

But there have been calls in recent years to further tighten gun legislation.

In April 2020, a gunman posing as a police officer killed 22 people during a shooting spree in Nova Scotia - the deadliest in Canada's history.

Within days, Mr Trudeau announced an immediate ban on 1,500 different kinds of military-grade and assault-style weapons.

A statement after the announcement of Friday's import ban, said the number of registered handguns in Canada had increased by 71% between 2010 and 2020, reaching approximately 1.1 million.

"We know that one Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many. As a government, it is our duty to ensure that Canada remains one of the safest places to live in the world. The import ban announced today will help to keep guns stay off our streets... reducing gun violence in the immediate term," said Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.

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