Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the country is banning the use and trade of assault-style weapons immediately.
Trudeau cited numerous mass shootings in the country Friday, including the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19. He announced the ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, including the AR-15 and other weapons that have been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States.
“Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers,” Trudeau said.
The Cabinet order does not forbid owning any of the military-style weapons and their variants but it does ban the trade in them. He said the order has a two-year amnesty period for current owners, and there will be a compensation programme that will require a bill passed in Parliament.
In the meantime, they can be exported, returned to manufacturers, and transported only to deactivate them or get rid of them. In certain limited circumstances, they can be used for hunting.
“You do not need an AR-15 to take down a deer,” Trudeau said. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country.”
‘No place for such weapons’
He said 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,” Trudeau said.
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, but Trudeau said they are happening more often. Trudeau noted he was nearby in Montreal when gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989. The Ruger Mini-14 Lepine used is among weapons included in the ban.
A memorial for Heidi Stevenson is seen outside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Headquarters, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada [John Morris/Reuters]
Trudeau has said his government would introduce further gun control legislation prohibiting military-style assault weapons, a measure that had already been planned before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the current parliamentary session.
“As of today, the market for assault weapons is closed. Enough is enough,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said.