By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government has outlawed a wide range of rifles with the aim of making Canada safer, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting.
The ban issued Friday covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style firearms, meaning they cannot be legally used, sold or imported, starting immediately.
The list includes the popular AR-15 rifle and the Ruger Mini-14 used to kill 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.
“Today we are closing the market for military-grade assault weapons in Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.
“Every single Canadian wants to see less gun violence and safer communities.”
There is a two-year amnesty period while the government creates a program that will allow current owners to receive compensation for turning in the designated firearms or keep them through a grandfathering process yet to be worked out.
Under the amnesty, the newly prohibited firearms can only be transferred or transported within Canada for specific purposes. Owners must keep the guns securely stored until there is more information on the buyback program.
Trudeau cited numerous mass shootings, from Ecole Polytechnique to the killings in Nova Scotia last month, as the reasons for the move. Some guns have legitimate uses, including recreational shooting, he said, “but you don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”
Stricter gun controls were promised in the Liberals’ election campaign platform last fall.
“Enough is enough,” said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief.
“Banning assault-style firearms will save Canadian lives. These guns have no legitimate civilian purpose.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused the prime minister of using the COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate emotion of the horrific murders in Nova Scotia to push the Liberals’ ideological agenda and make major firearms policy changes.
“Taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals who obtain their guns illegally,” Scheer said in a statement.
The Liberals reiterated promises to introduce other gun-control measures, including a plan to empower provinces and cities to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions.