The federal Liberal government is moving ahead with its agenda to ban modern sporting rifles and allowing municipalities to restrict handgun possession within their boundaries.
Several rifles banned
Calling them “military-style assault rifles,” the Liberals banned several models of semi-automatic centrefire rifles (modern sporting rifles) in the wake of the Nova Scotia shooting. The legislation to pass the bill was done through an Order in Council, where Cabinet makes the decision and the matter doesn’t come before the House of Commons. The RCMP then have the power to decide which models should be banned.
Both this move, and allowing municipalities to ban handguns, dates back to the mandate letter Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in 2018.
“You should lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians,” the letter said. Both were again reiterated in this fall’s throne speech.
No bidders for program
A request for proposal was held for private companies to run the buyback program, but there were no successful bidders according to Public Safety Canada. A revised request for proposals with feedback from the industry was issued.
“This will work towards ensuring that we have the work product we need to design the best buyback that ensures that affected owners and businesses are compensated fairly and implementation costs are well priced and sustainable,” said Zarak Malik, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada.
“We remain committed to introducing a buyback program during the amnesty period. We continue to look at a range of options and will work with the provinces, territories and First Nations to get this right for law-abiding gun owners and businesses.”
On the handgun ban, Malik said, “With regard to the timeline for introducing legislation to allow cities to ban handguns, no timeline has been set, but the government intends to introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity.”
OFAH speaks out
Matt DeMille, manager of fish and wildlife services with the OFAH, said there were no surprises in the throne speech, with both the modern sporting rifle and handgun issues being a part of it.
“We continue to oppose municipal firearm bans and remain very concerned with the potential implications that a patchwork of firearms policies would have across the province,” DeMille said. “We have been encouraged by the Government of Ontario’s unwavering position of not wanting to target lawful gun owners. The OFAH has been proactively working at the provincial level to seek support that would help to minimize unnecessary firearm restrictions at the municipal level.”
DeMille questioned spending money on a buyback in the middle of the pandemic but said it would be necessary if they follow through.
“First and foremost, the OFAH has maintained a position that most of the May 1 prohibitions aren’t justifiable,” he said. “If the prohibitions remain in effect, then it is absolutely necessary for the federal government to have processes in place that allow for grandfathering and/or compensate Canadians for their property. The Government of Canada shouldn’t be spending money needlessly right now with what we are facing as a nation, but unless something changes with the prohibitions a buyback is needed, and it needs to be done right.”