Canada bans assault-style weapons following worst ever mass shooting

1 May 2020, 20:32

Justin Trudeau announced plans to tighten Canadian gun control laws
Justin Trudeau announced plans to tighten Canadian gun control laws. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Canada will immediately ban the use and sale of assault-style weapons following the country's worst ever mass murder.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referenced a number of mass shootings in Canada when making the announcement, including the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia between 18 and 19 April.

Among the 1,500 firearm models and their variations banned were the AR-15 and other similar weapons used in similar tragedies in the neighbouring USA.

"You do not need an AR-15 to take down a deer," Mr Trudeau said.

The Canadian leader added his government was on the brink of introducing such measures in March but put a stop to plans following the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite mass shooting being a rarity in the North American nation, the prime minister said they have been occurring more often.

A deer hunter aiming an AR-15 in Minnesota, USA
A deer hunter aiming an AR-15 in Minnesota, USA. Picture: PA

He even added that he was nearby in Montreal when a gunman killed 14 women and himself at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989.

"Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers," Mr Trudeau said.

The legislation does not criminalise one from owning any of the military-style weapons or their variants, however it does ban people from using or trading them.

Current owners will have a two-year amnesty period and they will be compensated via a programme that will require a bill passed in Parliament.

For now, the order allows people to export the weapons, return them to manufacturers, and transport only to deactivate or get rid of them.

However, they can still be used for hunting in a limited number of circumstances.

"So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country," Mr Trudeau said.

He added the weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

"There is no use, and no place, for such weapons in Canada," he said.

In a statement on the Canadian government's website, the prime minister said: "Because of gun violence, people are dying, families are grieving, and communities are suffering.

"It must end.

"Assault-style firearms designed for military use have no place in Canada. By removing them from our streets, we will limit the devastating effects of gun-related violence and help make our country safer."

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Another statement added: "One Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many. Violent crimes involving firearms continue to have devastating impacts on communities across the country, and on Canadians who have lost loved ones to these crimes.

"Events like the recent tragedy in Nova Scotia, the attack in 2017 at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, and the massacre that took place in 1989 at École Polytechnique de Montréal should never have happened.

"That is why the government of Canada is introducing measures to combat gun violence, and help keep us safe.

"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the ban of over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms. These models represent nine categories of firearms and two types identified by characteristic. Some of their components are also prohibited.

"The newly prohibited firearms and components cannot be legally used, sold, or imported. Owners must also continue to safely store them, and may only transfer and transport them under limited circumstances.

"These measures will remove dangerous firearms designed for military use from our communities, and help ensure that Canadian families and communities no longer suffer from gun violence."

It continued: "There are exceptions under the amnesty for Indigenous peoples exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights to hunt, and for those who hunt or trap to sustain themselves or their families.

"These exceptions will allow for the continued use of newly prohibited firearms in limited circumstances until a suitable replacement can be found. By the end of the amnesty period, all firearms owners must comply with the ban."