Ottawa considers handgun options
Liberals looking at taking action as polls show 70 per cent in favour of a ban
Members of Parliament rise for a moment of silence for the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in 1989, before Question Period on Thursday. 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.
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