Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has decided not to wait for Parliament, which is recessed until September, to take up a ban on importing handguns into Canada. A temporary ban will take effect Aug. 19, imposed through regulatory steps, and last until legislators act on Trudeau's full proposal, CTV News reports. "Nearly all" Canadians and businesses will be blocked from importing handguns, officials said. That will in effect cap the number of the weapons in Canada at existing levels, per the Washington Post, because the great majority of them were imported. Handguns "have one purpose and one purpose only," Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday in making the announcement, "and that is to kill people."
The quick enactment of the ban is designed to keep stores and consumers from stocking up, an official said. But sales have jumped since Trudeau announced the legislation in May, per the Toronto Star. One gun shop owner said in June that sales had more than tripled. "We sold over a couple of hundred handguns in three days," she said. Despite general support for gun control, there are complaints that the handgun ban hurts law-abiding owners without stopping the illegal smuggling of guns across the US border. Toronto's police chief has said about 80% of the guns used in violent crimes are smuggled in.
It's difficult for Canada to shrink the supply when a neighbor has guns so widely available. "The crime guns that we seize in Toronto have been banned since the mid-'90s," a Toronto police spokesman said. "But those guns are still available in the US." The survivor of a 1989 school shooting in Montreal agreed that the ban won't stop the sale of handguns. "However, this is a significant and creative measure that will unquestionably slow the expansion of the Canadian handgun market until" the larger measure is approved, said Nathalie Provost. (Read more Canada stories.)