Canada Aims to Force Owners of ‘Military-Style Assault Weapons’ to Turn Them In
OTTAWA — Most owners of what Canada calls “military-style assault weapons” would be required to turn over their firearms to a government buyback program under legislation introduced on Monday, which would tighten the country’s already stringent control of firearms.
The Canadian government also immediately imposed new regulationsbanning the sale, purchase, importation or transfer of handguns.
“As a government, as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters on Monday.
The proposed buyback law is the latest in a series of steps Mr. Trudeau has taken to restrict firearms since 22 people were killed in rural Nova Scotia by a gunman in 2020, in the deadliest rampage in the country’s history. The gunman was killed by police.
The Canadian legislation comes as another mass shooting in the United States has reignited an often searing debate on gun violence. Last week a gunman used a military-style rifle to kill 19 children and two teachers in the town of Uvalde, Tex. Only 10 days earlier, a teenage gunman entranced by a white supremacist ideology opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., shooting and killing 10 people and injuring three more, almost all of them Black.
After 20 children and six adults were massacred in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there were widespread calls in the United States for stronger controls on powerful firearms. But in the intervening years almost nothing has happened, with many Republicans aligned with the gun lobby refusing to even allow a vote on any proposed legislation.
Mr. Trudeau’s program echoes a semiautomatic weapons ban and buyback program launched by New Zealand in 2019, after a lone gunman stormed two mosques, killing 51 people and injuring dozens of others in Christchurch. After a mass shooting in 1996 in which a gunman killed 35 people in the town of Port Arthur, Australia, the government there collected more than 650,000 semiautomatic rifles and many shotguns after they were banned under new legislation.
American lawmakers have failed to restore restrictions on military-style semiautomatic weapons that expired in 2004. But Mr. Trudeau’s proposal, which could apply to tens of thousands of firearms, is expected to pass.
While his Liberal Party does not hold a voting majority in the House of Commons, the left-leaning New Democratic Party has long pushed for tighter gun controls and is expected to support the new measure allowing it to overcome any potential opposition from the Conservatives.
A government officialsaid that buybacks will begin by the end of the year.