Ot­tawa con­sid­ers hand­gun op­tions

Lib­er­als look­ing at tak­ing ac­tion as polls show 70 per cent in favour of a ban

StarMetro Calgary - - CANADA & WORLD - Tonda Mac­Cha­rles

OT­TAWA—The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing fur­ther re­stric­tions on hand­guns but will stop short of an ab­so­lute ban, as the cost to buy back legally owned hand­guns is pegged as high as $2 bil­lion, the Star has learned.

Es­ca­lat­ing gun vi­o­lence across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Toronto, spurred calls for the fed­eral Lib­er­als to act. Af­ter pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions, de­lib­er­a­tions are now un­der­way with a pro­posal be­ing read­ied to take to cabi­net early next year.

Among op­tions un­der con­sid­er­a­tion are the im­po­si­tion of tougher le­gal obli­ga­tions on gun own­ers such as manda­tory stor­age in se­cured lock­ers at a shoot­ing range, not at home, and wider pow­ers for po­lice to pre­ven­tively sus­pend a gun owner’s li­cence where there is a risk some­one may be harmed. For in­stance, if a health pro­fes­sional raises an alarm about an in­di­vid­ual’s men­tal health, po­lice would be able to act to sus­pend a li­cence in ab­sence of a crim­i­nal charge or the reg­is­tra­tion of a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion.

A se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who was granted anonymity in or­der to dis­cuss the de­bate un­der­way within gov­ern­ment, said no fi­nal de­ci­sions have been made.

In the case of the lat­ter, there is no pre­cise def­i­ni­tion in law of just what an as­sault weapon is, but the gov­ern­ment wants stricter con­trols on “as­sault-style” firearms, said the source.

Over­all, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is look­ing to pack­age a com­bi­na­tion of mea­sures that will be ef­fec­tive at ad­dress­ing gun vi­o­lence and at curb­ing the diversion of le­gal guns into il­le­gal hands; and there are doubts that a ban will have the de­sired ef­fect, ac­cord­ing to the in­sider with knowl­edge of the file.

It ap­pears, how­ever, there is pub­lic sup­port for a hand­gun and as­sault weapon ban in most parts of the coun­try, with the source cit­ing in­ter­nal polling that in­di­cates 70 per cent of Cana­di­ans would sup­port a ban. The num­bers vary across re­gions, the source said, with the high­est sup­port in Que­bec at 76 per cent, roughly 73 per cent in At­lantic re­gion, 70 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area.

Af­ter the Dan­forth shoot­ing last sum­mer, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ap­pointed Scar­bor­ough South­west MP Bill Blair as min­is­ter of bor­der se­cu­rity and or­ga­nized crime re­duc­tion, and in­structed Blair to work with Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale to ex­am­ine “a full ban on hand­guns and as­sault weapons in Canada, while not im­ped­ing the law­ful use of firearms by Cana­di­ans.” Blair has said he wants to com­plete his ex­am­i­na­tion by the end of this year. Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment rise for a mo­ment of si­lence for the vic­tims of the Ecole Polytech­nique mas­sacre in 1989, be­fore Ques­tion Pe­riod on Thurs­day. JUSTIN TANG/CANA­DIAN PRESS

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