On May 1, two weeks after the Nova Scotia gunman impersonated an RCMP officer and killed 22 people, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the ban of over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms.
The ban was enacted as an Order in Council, signed by Cabinet Ministers.
The Government press release states these measures are for the purpose of combatting gun violence such as occurred in the recent tragedy in Nova Scotia, the attack in 2017 at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, and the massacre that took place in 1989 at École Polytechnique de Montréal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “Because of gun violence, people are dying, families are grieving, and communities are suffering. It must end. Assault-style firearms designed for military use have no place in Canada. By removing them from our streets, we will limit the devastating effects of gun-related violence and help make our country safer.”
The newly prohibited firearms and components cannot be legally used, sold, or imported. Owners must also continue to safely store them, and may only transfer and transport them under limited circumstances.
There will be a transition period of two years to protect owners of newly prohibited firearms from criminal liability while they take steps to comply with these new rules. This two-year amnesty order under the Criminal Code is in effect until April 30, 2022.
There are exceptions under the amnesty for Indigenous peoples exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights to hunt, and for those who hunt or trap to sustain themselves or their families. These exceptions will allow for the continued use of newly prohibited firearms in limited circumstances until a suitable replacement can be found. By the end of the amnesty period, all firearms owners must comply with the ban.
The Government of Canada intends to implement a buy-back program as soon as possible to safely remove these firearms and to introduce legislation as early as possible, working with Parliament and through public consultation.
“Prohibiting these firearms immediately freezes the market in Canada for the most prevalent assault-style firearms that are not suitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes,” says Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
He said the initiative “is the first step in a broader firearms strategy that will address illegal activities, violence, and self-harm. Our government is also committed to protecting public safety, while ensuring hunters, farmers, and law-abiding recreational firearms owners are also treated respectfully and fairly.”
In Canada, there are currently over 100,000 restricted firearms among the models that are now prohibited.
An individual should not deliver a firearm to a police station without first making arrangements with a police officer for a safe and scheduled delivery or pick up. Individuals should not surrender their firearm while physical distancing requirements are in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Firearms owners must keep their firearms securely stored in accordance with the storage requirements until more information on the buy-back program is available.
A Criminal Code amnesty is in place until April 30, 2022, to protect lawful owners from criminal liability and to enable them to comply with the law. Under the amnesty, the newly prohibited firearms can only be transferred or transported within Canada for specific purposes.
Unless you are an Indigenous person exercising treaty rights to hunt or a sustenance hunter, you can only transfer or transport in accordance with the amnesty, such as to:
- have them deactivated by an approved business
- return them to a lawful owner’s residence
- export them lawfully
- surrender them to police without compensation