The Canadian government plans to ban the import of small arms from August 19.
Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced Friday that the federal government has decided to push through the import ban without the approval of parliament, and plans to change the policy through legal restrictions.
The measure will prevent individuals and businesses from importing pistols into Canada, the government says.
The government says the upcoming regulations will effectively accelerate aspects of the planned freeze. The move is temporary, however, with plans to remain in effect only until the previously promised permanent ban on Ottawa is passed.
“This ban is a stopgap as the gun freeze in its entirety goes through the parliamentary process, preventing the shelves from being replenished in the short term,” said Joly.
In late May, the Liberals introduced Bill C-21, legislation that, if passed, would further restrict legal access to handguns in Canada. The bill includes a specific section that stops with a complete ban, instead opting for a national “freeze” on the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns in Canada, allowing current legal owners to keep theirs.
Bill C-21 also wants to create systems to flag individuals who could pose a risk to themselves or others, and increase maximum penalties for firearms-related offenses such as firearms smuggling and trafficking.
The incoming regulation announced Friday will “contain narrow exceptions mirroring those in Bill C-21,” the government said.
Joly said the Liberals decided to do this because when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Bill C-21, there was an “upturn” in Canada’s gun purchases.
“We want to avoid that. That’s why we’re announcing this import ban… We know that the vast majority of handguns are imported into the country, as there is no weapons producer in the country,” Joly said.
The move is likely to receive mixed reactions from gun control and gun rights groups, but according to the government, law enforcement agencies seized more than double the number of firearms at the border in 2021 compared to 2020.
According to federal data, there were approximately 1.1 million registered handguns in Canada in 2020.
More to come…
With files from CTV News’ Michael Lee