On Monday, Canada introduced new gun-control legislation that, if passed, would implement a "national freeze" on buying, importing, transferring, and selling handguns, effectively capping the number of such weapons already in the country, the Washington Post reports. The bill, which Canadian officials cast as "the most significant action on gun violence in a generation," also includes "red flag" laws that would allow judges to remove firearms temporarily from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others and stiffer penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking. “We recognize that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible and follow all necessary laws,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “We are, however, facing a level of gun violence in our communities that is unacceptable.” The proposed legislation came after mass shootings in Texas and across the U.S.-Canada border in Buffalo revived a long-simmering debate in the U.S. about whether Congress might act to curb gun violence.
The "freeze" envisioned by the proposed legislation is not a ban - people who already own guns could continue to possess and use them. Owners could transfer them only to businesses, and chief firearms officers would be barred from approving the transfer of handguns to individuals. The bill is likely to pass with the support of the New Democratic Party. Gun-control measures enjoy broad public support in Canada, particularly in urban centers. Conservatives criticized Liberal gun-control efforts, charging that they unfairly target law-abiding gun-owners and fail to stamp out the smuggling of illegal weapons across borders. This bill comes after the Canadian government banned 1,500 makes and models of "military-style assault weapons" in 2020 after a gunman posing as a police officer charged across rural Nova Scotia, killing 22 people, making it the country's deadliest mass shooting. While mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada compared to the U.S. the rate of firearm-related homicides has increased since 2013.