Canada Will Allow Communities To Decide On Handgun Regulations

Canadian leadership has decided not to put in place a national handgun ban and, instead, has put the power of handgun laws into the hands of local communities. Despite gun control activists supporting legislation for a national handgun ban, Canadian leadership will allow individual communities to decide on their own handgun regulations.

This policy is the “strongest measure to fight gun violence our country has ever seen,” claims Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau’s 2019 campaign promises included stricter gun regulations, and he is working to remain true to his words. Last May, Canadian leadership decided to ban military-style assault weapons, and Trudeau assured the public that additional gun control regulations were to come, according to CNN. Trudeau said that “there are no need (for) military-style assault weapons anywhere” in Canada, claims CNN. This assault weapon ban came after Canada’s worst mass shooting in its history that occurred in Nova Scotia last year. During this attack, 22 people were killed by a man pretending to be a police officer.

Throughout the country, there are supporters on both sides of the handgun regulation argument. In Toronto and Montreal, most citizens advocate for a national handgun ban as the cities’ gun violence increase. According to the New York Times, the Toronto City Council promotes a national handgun ban, but the City Council claims it is looking forward to receiving guidelines from the government on how the local handgun ban would work at the city level. On the other hand, the more conservative-leaning governments of Alberta and Ontario do not support local governments enforcing a ban on handguns. Ultimately, cities themselves cannot make a ban on handguns on their own – the provincial governments have the final say.

Though this is the most demanding legislation on gun control Canada has seen, gun control supporters claim this recent legislation does not go far enough to regulate gun use in the country, according to CNN. According to this news source, more political parties in the country need to come forward in support of national gun regulation legislation. Now, only the Liberal party is advocating for gun control, and it is not enough to get national gun regulation passed. The Conservative Party doesn’t like the national handgun ban as it restricts the rights of gun owners, and the legislation didn’t appropriately account for the smuggling of guns that is happening between Canada and the United States, claims CNN. The Trudeau government has since asserted that it will collaborate with the new Biden administration to work on combatting the smuggling issue affecting the neighboring countries.

Trudeau is promising additional gun control legislation in the future. According to the New York Times, Canadian leadership will soon discuss a voluntary buyback program for guns that are on the assault weapon list. As of now, the legislation doesn’t adequately define what is considered a “military-style assault weapon.” This offers ambiguity in the legislation and leaves decisions to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to confirm on an individual basis whether a certain weapon should be on the assault weapon list, claims the New York Times.

In the new few days, the Canadian Parliament will vote to allow local governments to decide whether to implement handgun bans. While Conservative political parties have opposed this legislation, some parties are choosing to vote in support of the new bill.

Despite giving freedoms to municipalities about gun control laws, this new legislation offers concerns on how effective the ban will be. Undoubtedly, it will be difficult to regulate and enforce a city by city handgun policy, asserts Canada Broadcasting Company (CBC). Intending to decrease gun violence, there is not much evidence yet suggesting that these local bans will achieve this objective. As of now, there are no concrete guidelines on how each city should implement this legislation if approved at the local level. According to CBC, cities have multiple options, and it seems that there is no one size fits all framework. This lack of a universal implementation strategy welcomes ideas and plans that properly fit each city, but since there are so many options, setting guidelines for each scenario can be complicated.

Ultimately, if most Canadians want a national handgun ban, then Canadian leadership should act accordingly and vote to impose such legislation. Many Canadians agree that gun violence should be prevented in the country given the recent years’ gun crime cases. Trudeau was elected with campaign promises to address gun violence and control in the country. Therefore, it seems reasonable that many Canadians do in fact want stricter nationwide gun control. Time will tell how this conversation over gun control at the local government level will go and what results will come from this decision.


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