The federal government’s “freeze” on handguns came into effect on Oct. 21, making it illegal to buy, sell, or transfer a handgun in Canada.
“We have frozen the market for handguns in this country and our ban on imports that took effect in August remains in place,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 21.
“This is one of the strongest actions we’ve taken on gun violence in a generation,” he added.
In August, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced a national temporary freeze on handgun importations that would take permanent effect once Parliament passed legislation bringing it into law.
At the time, Mendicino said the ban would stop “nearly all individuals and businesses in Canada” from importing handguns because “nearly all our handguns are imported.”
Speaking at the press conference with Trudeau in Surrey, Mendicino called Canadian gun crime a “complex problem.”
“You need smart laws, you need sensible laws,” he said.
Mendicino added that Bill C-21, which is currently pending in the House of Commons, will limit gun ownership across the country and give “law enforcement the additional tools that they need to tackle organized crime.”
“Our goal over time is to see the amount of handguns in our communities reduced,” Trudeau added.
Conservatives have criticised the Liberals’ handgun freeze and increasing gun regulations, as laid out in Bill C-21, saying it limits only legal gun ownership.
“In Canada, what we won’t be doing is dividing Canadians and politicizing firearms,” said Conservative MP and public safety critic Raquel Dancho during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Oct. 21.
“We’ve been clear all along that we believe the billions and billions of dollars of resources they are spending on their gun control policies—which will fail to address gun violence—we would be spending those billions of dollars on bolstering our border security to stop gun smuggling,” she said.
In the past week, the Toronto Police Association (TPA) president said the federal government’s handgun freeze will fail to actually reduce gun crime.
TPA President Jon Reid told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that freezing handgun imports is “pointless” legislation.
“Freezing the importation of legal firearms does nothing to stop the flow of the illegal ones,” he said.
In June, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) said in a statement that it overall supports the handgun freeze legislation because it “will help prevent victimization by way of a firearm and improve public safety.”
However, the organization added that “restricting lawful handgun ownership will not meaningfully address the real issue,” which it said are “illegal handguns obtained from the United States that have led to the disturbing current trend in gun violence that is largely related to gangs, street gangs, and more sophisticated organized crime groups.”
Trudeau said Friday that the federal government will be giving the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) more resources to help officers monitor attempts of gun smuggling from the United States.
“With this funding, the CBSA can deploy new technology like scanners that can X-ray an entire truck in a matter of minutes,” Trudeau said.
“Our Liberal government is reinforcing our borders and giving law enforcement the tools and resources they need to stop illegal gun smuggling.”
In February, Mark Weber, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, told the Commons public safety committee about the large number of illegal firearms smuggled across Canada’s border every year.
He said just “one-millionth of all rail cargo” is inspected by border officers before it crosses the Canadian border from the United States.
“In other words, there’s almost a zero percent chance that any illegal weapons entering the country via rail will ever be found,” he said on Feb. 1.
“As things stand, not only is Canada’s ability to prevent smuggling lacking, but its capacity to gather reliable and sound data is also inadequate.”