Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to freeze handgun sales in Canada yesterday in wake of the shooting massacre in Uvalde, Texas a week ago. Trudeau declared to rousing applause at a press conference that it will “no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada.” On Monday evening, Trudeau tweeted about the new legislation:
In case you missed it: We introduced legislation earlier today that, if passed in Parliament, will further strengthen Canada’s gun control laws. For more on what that means and why we’re taking these steps, watch this video and click this link: https://t.co/BYcdjI2mHe pic.twitter.com/2slVfkm6gY
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 31, 2022
“I can confirm the imminent launch of the initial phase of this program as we begin consultations with industry on compensation,” Mendicino said.
In April 2022, Mendicino announced the country’s vow to protect Canadians from rising gun violence, including not just establishing the buyback program, but committing C$1 billion to the effort.
Protecting Canadians from gun violence remains one of our top priorities. Budget 2022 reaffirms we will deliver a mandatory buyback program to remove deadly assault style firearms from our communities, for good. #budget2022
— Marco Mendicino (@marcomendicino) April 7, 2022
While Uvalde may have spurred the country’s leaders into further action, the push to ban handguns was already in motion.
On May 1st, 2020 – just weeks after the deadliest mass shooting that Canada had ever seen ended with 23 dead – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an immediate ban on 1500 types of “assault-style” weapons. CBC News quoted Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, as saying:
“‘As of today, the market for assault weapons in Canada is closed,’ Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said. ‘Enough is enough. Banning these firearms will save Canadian lives.'”
According to BBC, over the course of two days – April 18-19, 2020 – 51-year-old, Gabriel Wortman, would go on a shooting spree across 100 kilometers in Nova Scotia. Reportedly posing as a police officer, the dental technician would claim the lives of 22 innocent victims – including a teenager, a school teacher, a pregnant woman, and a constable.
Wortman set multiple fires in the process, killing 13 people on April 18th and nine the following day.
Wortman’s first victims were Greg and Jamie Blair, residents of the rural community of Portapique, Nova Scotia. The BBC reported that Jamie Blair called 911 after her husband was shot. The Blair’s two children, ages 9 and 11, were able to get to safety. Mrs. Blair, unfortunately, was shot and killed while still on the phone with 911.
It was a long and terrifying night in the province. Police, armed with firearms and covered in body armor, searched for Wortman on foot. He’d be killed the following day.
A report studying the rise in gun-related crime between 2009-2-21 by the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics stated:
“Between 2019 and 2020, notable increases in rates of firearm-related violent crime were reported in southern rural British Columbia (+34%), the northern rural part of Ontario (+32%), rural Alberta (+32% in the North and +31% in the South), the Northwest Territories (+23%) and Nova Scotia (+22%).”
Out of the 743 homicides in 2020, Canadian police reported that 277 of those were by firearm. Perpetrators were predominantly male – 87%.
While Canada is still a far cry from the gun death statistics in the United States, Trudeau, and the Canadian government are taking the steps necessary to reduce gun violence and protect its citizens from the devastating results. In 2020, after the Nova Scotia shootings, Trudeau’s order banning military-grade “assault” weapons became effective immediately. As the bill putting a freeze on handguns in the country heads to Parliament, let’s hope Canada’s neighbor to the south is paying attention and taking note – actions, not words are how to get things done.
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