Government announces strengthened measures to prevent gun violence and ban new assault-style firearms
May 1, 2023
Canadians deserve to be safe in their communities. That’s why the Government of Canada is taking action on gun violence with a comprehensive plan that gets firearms off our streets and puts more resources into our neighbourhoods, while respecting hunters and law-abiding gun owners. A central part of this work is addressing the assault-style firearms that have been used in the worst tragedies in our country’s history. They have no place in Canada, which is why the Government of Canada banned them in 2020.
While significant progress has been made, there is more work to be done to protect our communities from gun violence in Canada. By introducing Bill C-21, the Government brought forward Canada’s strong gun control legislation in a generation. This landmark Bill would implement a national freeze on handguns into law, addresses the alarming role of firearms in domestic violence and takes aim at organized crime.
The Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, today announced proposed enhanced measures to strengthen Bill C-21 and cement in law a permanent ban on new assault-style firearms from Canada. These new proposed measures will help keep assault-style firearms out of our communities, while respecting hunters and other law-abiding gun owners.
Bill C-21 is currently being reviewed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
The proposed legislative measures would:
- Establish a new technical definition which contains the characteristics of an assault-style firearms, illegal in Canada. This is a forward-looking definition, meaning it would not apply to firearms currently on the market. It would be inserted into the Criminal Code and the Import Control List and apply to firearms designed and manufactured after the provisions comes into force, so that firearms that exceed safe civilian use are not introduced into our communities.
- Through regulations, require that manufacturers seek a Firearms Reference Table number before being allowed to sell in Canada. These regulatory measures would ensure that no firearm goes unaccounted for in the classification process.
- Tackle the issue of ghost guns by enacting new offences and classifying ghost guns and other illegally made firearms as prohibited.
- Respect the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis by including a specific provision stating that nothing proposed in Bill C-21 derogates from the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Other new measures would:
- Re-establish the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to independently review the classification of existing firearms. There are firearms on the existing market that do not belong in our communities. Unfortunately, due to misinformation over the last number of months, the debate over specific guns has become polarized. With a diverse membership, the Committee will make expert recommendations to account for any gap in the market. The Government will appoint this Committee within 60 days and seek a recommendation on the classification of firearms by August 31, 2023. The classification assessment is a direct response to Recommendation 38 (C.21) of the Mass Casualty Commission.
- Chart a course to improve regulations for large capacity magazines. The Government intends to update regulations regarding large-capacity magazines in the very near future. Other regulations would ban the sale of transfer of magazines capable of holding more than the legal number of bullets.
This announcement follows engagement with Canadians across the country. These included survivors of gun violence, hunters & trappers; First Nations, Inuit and Métis; and rural & Northern residents. It is also the product of significant conversations with Parliamentarians. Furthermore, the measures reflect the input of experts in the field. Most significantly, these proposed amendments align with recommendations put forward by the Mass Casualty Commission, which examined the worst mass shooting in Canadian history and released its recommendations on March 23, 2023.
No single program or initiative can tackle the challenge of gun violence alone. These measures are part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to keep Canadians safe from gun crime. It begins with strong borders, where we’ve added resources to fight smuggling and stop guns from coming into Canada. It involves strong legislation, including the ban on assault-style firearms, the buyback program, and the national handgun freeze. Finally, it includes strong prevention strategies, most notably the $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund, which aims to stop gun crime before it starts.
“This government has done more than any in Canadian history to toughen our laws and protect communities from gun violence. Yet our work is not done. Today’s suite of measures will improve Bill C-21 and bolster Canada’s ban on assault-style firearms, while respecting hunters and law-abiding gun owners. They will also crack down on the emerging threat of ghost guns and establish a new panel to take the misinformation out of these debates. These changes represent a major milestone on the long journey of keeping our communities safe from gun violence.”
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
In Budget 2023, the Government announced an investment of $29 million over five years to implement an IM/IT solution for the Firearms Buyback Program to compensate firearms owners and businesses and safely remove assault-style firearms from Canadian communities.
In Budget 2021, the Government announced an investment of $312 million over five years to increase law enforcement capacity to combat firearms smuggling and trafficking.
From 2021 to 2022, the Canada Border Services Agency seized more than 1,200 firearms, the largest number of seizures recorded in a single year.
- Backgrounder: Strengthened Measures to Protect Canadians from Gun Violence
- Further strengthening our gun control laws
- Government takes action to prevent gun violence with $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund
- Freezing the market on handguns
- New investments to help end gun and gang violence in Canada
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
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