Gun legislation tabled by the federal government on Tuesday would give municipalities the ability to ban handguns, offer a voluntary buy-back program for recently banned firearms the Liberals consider assault-style weapons, and increase penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking.
Municipalities would be able to approve bylaws restricting the possession, storage and transportation of handguns.
“We’re backing up the cities with serious federal and criminal penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate these municipal rules,” Trudeau told the media briefing.
This part of the bill might not sit well with gun-control advocates who have called for a national handgun ban, warning leaving the job to municipalities would create an ineffective patchwork of regulations.
It would also create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine of a firearm and introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition.
People who owned the blacklisted weapons have until Apr. 30, 2022 to comply with the ban.
Trudeau said the law is not aimed at responsible gun owners.
“We are not targeting law-abiding citizens who own guns to go hunting or for sport shooting. The measures we’re proposing are concrete and practical,” Trudeau said.
“And they have one goal and one goal only — protecting you, your family and your community. Because the victims are real. The pain of their families is real.”
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said earlier on Tuesday that the program will do nothing to curb gun violence.
“I think Mr. Trudeau misleads people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other Canadians who are law-abiding is somehow going to solve the problem of shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities,” he said.
“It’s ignoring the real problem and it’s dividing Canadians.”