Photo: The Canadian Press
The federal government plans to fast-track a ban on the importation of handguns into the country without parliamentary approval through a regulatory measure that will take effect in two weeks, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino announced on Friday.
The change will last until a permanent freeze is passed in the Danish Parliament and comes into effect.
The government introduced gun control legislation in May that includes a national freeze on the import, purchase, sale and transfer of handguns in Canada.
That law was not passed until Parliament took its summer break and will be debated again when MPs return to Ottawa this fall.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she has the authority to ban any import or export permit in Canada.
“Working with Marco, we came up with this idea of creating this new system of permitting requirements,” Joly said. “But in the meantime, we will refuse any permission.”
The temporary ban would prevent companies from importing handguns into Canada, with a few exceptions mirroring those in the legislation introduced in May.
“Given that almost all of our handguns are imported, that means we’re bringing our national handgun freeze even faster,” Mendicino said. “From that moment on, the number of handguns in Canada will only decrease.”
Public trade data shows Canada imported $26.4 million worth of pistols and revolvers between January and June — a 52 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
PolySeSouvient, a group representing survivors and families of victims of gun violence, applauded the government’s approach to freeze imports in a statement released Friday.
“This is a significant and creative measure that will undoubtedly slow the expansion of the Canadian gun market until Bill C-21 is passed, hopefully this fall,” said Nathalie Provost, a survivor of the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting in Montreal.
Mendicino and Joly announced the change outside a Catholic elementary school in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke as children kicked soccer balls around the field behind them.
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