Further strengthening our gun control laws
We’re introducing legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership. What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns anywhere in Canada. In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns.
As a further part of this new legislation, we’re also fighting gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing maximum criminal penalties and providing more tools for law enforcement to investigate firearm crimes, and we’ll require the permanent alteration of long-gun magazines so they can never hold more than five rounds. These are actions that doctors, experts, and chiefs of police have been calling for, for years, and we’re acting on their advice.
I also want to thank the advocates, many of whom are here today, for your tireless efforts. I know that for too many of you, grief and loss are at the root of the work that you do, and I want to recognize that, and on behalf of all Canadians, I want to thank you for your strength.
Today, we’re introducing a bill to ensure it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns in Canada. As part of this new bill, we are also fighting gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing maximum criminal penalties. We will also provide more tools for law enforcement to investigate firearm crimes, and require the permanent alteration of long-gun magazines so they can never hold more than five rounds.
To combat gun violence, we need to tackle it on several fronts. To start, with our measures, we will cap and reduce the number of guns circulating in the country. But we must also continue to do prevention work with young people who may have contact with criminal environments, and we must continue our efforts to address smuggling at our borders.
We’ve already invested to strengthen the RCMP and CBSA’s capacity to intercept guns coming across our borders. We know our efforts are working because last year our agencies intercepted nearly double the number of firearms than the year before. We’ll continue doing more to support law enforcement as they tackle the illegal gun market.
We’ve thought about this long and hard. We’ve had many discussions within our caucus, with all of our MPs who represent the diversity of our country—MPs from rural communities, MPs from urban communities —the members of our team here today can tell you that this is not an easy thing to do, but we all agree that it is the responsible thing to do.
We recognize that the vast majority of gun owners use them safely and in accordance with the law. But other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives. And Canadians certainly don’t need assault-style weapons that were designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
Canadians are united in wanting more done to keep communities safe and prevent suicides and gender-based violence, and that’s exactly why we’re here today because the consequences are real; today we’re joined by families and friends of victims of gun violence, including the mass shootings at Polytechnique, and on the Danforth, and at the Quebec City mosque. Losing a child to gun violence, or a brother or a sister or a spouse or a parent or a friend; this should never happen.
I’ll be honest, over the past few years, I have attended far too many vigils. I have met the loved ones of far too many victims. I am thinking of the families in Sainte-Foy who were devastated by that attack. I am thinking of my conversation with the family of Constable Heidi Stevenson in Portapique, and of so many other families in that community who were so affected by that tragedy and those murders.
As politicians, we’re always good at being there to compensate, to console, and it’s important to do this; but it is also our moral duty to act.
I still remember where I was when I heard the news about the massacre at the École Polytechnique. I was 17 years old; I was a few blocks way from there at CEGEP. At a time like that, it’s hard to grasp the depth and impact of what we’re experiencing as a community, as a country, to learn that such horrors can happen. These are tragedies that shake our entire society, that mark generations.
Canadians all agree that we need less gun violence. We cannot let the guns debate become so polarized that nothing gets done. We cannot let that happen in our country.
This is about freedom. People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school, or their place of worship without fear. These people should be free to go to the park or to a birthday party without worrying about what might happen from a stray bullet.
Gun violence is a complex problem, but at the end of the day, the math is really quite simple. The fewer the guns in our communities, the safer everyone will be.