Notes for an address by The Honourable David Lametti - Announcement of Prohibition of Assault-Style Firearms and related devices

Speech

Ottawa, Ontario
May 1, 2020

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I am proud to be in the presence of the Prime Minister and my colleagues to talk about the important and, above all, sensible measures we are putting in place.

We know that the number of crimes committed with firearms has unfortunately increased in recent years. In 2017, there were 2,500 more victims than in 2013.

Too often, we have seen cases where weapons that were designed for use on the battlefields have made their way into our communities and have been used to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Minister Blair mentioned tragic incidents that live in the mind of all Canadians. Mothers and fathers, children, friends, neighbors- whose lives were taken from them in senseless acts of violence.

As a Montrealer, but especially as the father of two daughters and brother-in-law of two women engineers, one of whom is a former Polytechnique student, I can tell you that the horrible shooting of 14 young women at the École Polytechnique de Montréal is still very present in our collective memory, even 30 years later.

And we all remember Anastasia De Sousa whose life was tragically cut short at Dawson College.

That tragic event was a major catalyst for stricter gun controls in Canada, notably the Firearms Act, which ushered in new regulations in 1995.

But we have to do more. In 2019, Canadians gave us a clear mandate to act. As Minister Blair explained, today we are moving forward with this commitment by announcing an immediate prohibition of over 1,500 makes and models of military style firearms.

These are military-grade firearms, specifically designed to cause as many casualties as possible, as quickly as possible.

The new prohibitions on these weapons are effective immediately. We are, however, taking reasonable steps to provide Canadians with the time and guidance to properly and safely deactivate or remove these items from their possession.

To do this, we are putting in place an Amnesty Order under the Criminal Code, beginning today and effective until April 30, 2022.

This amnesty period will give lawful owners in possession of these newly-prohibited firearms a reasonable timeframe to come into compliance without facing criminal liability for unlawful possession. By the end of this amnesty period, all Canadians must be in compliance with the law.

I want to be abundantly clear about what is allowed—and what is not allowed—during the amnesty period.

  • First and foremost, anyone in possession of these newly prohibited firearms can no longer use them, even during the amnesty period.
  • Secondly, these firearms cannot be imported or sold to individuals in Canada.
  • Third, these firearms can be legally exported during the two-year timeframe with a valid export permit. In addition, a business may return the firearm to its manufacturer.
  • Finally, these firearms must be safely stored in accordance with the law. They can only be transferred or transported for the purposes of deactivation, export, or surrender to police without compensation, or, if the person is not the owner of the firearm, to return the firearm to its rightful owner.

There will be an exception for Indigenous peoples exercising a s. 35 hunting right, as well as those who use the weapon for hunting to feed themselves of their family. They may continue using firearms that were previously non-restricted for these purposes until a suitable replacement can be acquired.

We are asking that no one attempt to surrender their firearm while social distancing is being practiced due to Covid-19. As I have indicated, at the end of the amnesty period, all firearm owners will have to be in compliance with the prohibition.

A nation's character is defined by the way it responds to tragedy. The country is more united than ever and we must continue to work together.

The measures we are announcing today ban the most dangerous firearms, the greatest threat to communities across the country.

That is what we promised Canadians we would do, and that is what we owe them and all the victims who left us too soon.

Thank you.

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