Four-fifths of British Columbians would support a handgun ban in their city. (Black Press Media file)

Four-fifths of British Columbians would support a handgun ban in their city. (Black Press Media file)

Feds won’t let resistant premiers scuttle municipal handgun bans: PM

The government will push ahead with plans to prevent smuggling of pistols into Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he won’t let resistance from unwilling premiers scuttle the plans of municipalities that want to ban handguns.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau also defended his government’s intention to allow handgun prohibition on a city-by-city basis rather than enacting a sweeping federal ban.

Some municipal politicians in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, concerned about deadly shootings, have called for measures to control handguns in their cities.

The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns.

“We have heard from a number of particularly large cities saying that they want to be able to ban handguns within their city limits,” Trudeau said during the wide-ranging interview in Ottawa this week.

“That is something we are hearing from some very specific places across the country but not everywhere across the country. And we feel that it would be a solid step to move forward and give cities and provinces those tools to do that.”

The group PolySeSouvient, a leading voice for gun control, is pushing for a truly national handgun ban, arguing local ones are generally ineffective, as what it calls the “disastrous patchwork of local and state laws” in the United States demonstrates.

READ MORE: Nearly 80% of British Columbians support a ban on handguns in cities

Local bans would also have to overcome “enormous obstacles,” including provincial governments ideologically opposed to gun control and an array of legal and jurisdictional complexities, the group recently warned in a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has already signalled opposition to banning handguns despite support for the idea from Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The federal government’s preference is to hand some powers over firearms to the provinces, which would in turn allow for municipal regulation, Trudeau said.

“In some situations, we may have a province that is unwilling to do that despite the willingness of a city or cities to do that,” he said. “At which point, I have been assured, there are other tools we can use that wouldn’t be as ideal, because it would involve disagreements with the provinces at a time where we want to be collaborative.”

Trudeau declined to elaborate on any alternative measure, “because it’s something we hope to not have to use.”

He stressed that further restrictions represent just one element of the federal strategy on handguns.

The government will push ahead with plans to prevent smuggling of pistols into Canada, collect more information about purchases from retailers, and ensure more secure storage of firearms in shops and homes to deter theft, he said.

The Liberals also see spending on anti-gang programs, community centres and local policing as key to reducing urban violence.

They promise to move quickly on a commitment to outlaw assault-style firearms, including the popular AR-15, saying guns designed to inflict mass casualties have no place in Canada. Owners of legally purchased firearms that fall under the ban will be offered fair-market prices through a buyback program.

The prime minister played down the notion his government’s minority status affords little time to usher in tighter gun control.

“Our primary concern is getting it right,” he said. “But even in a minority situation we’ve seen that there is a very clear consensus from three of the parties in the House — us, the NDP and the Bloc — that moving forward on much stronger gun control is a priority.”

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

A Quesnel resident receives a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month. (Photo credit: Cassidy Dankochik/Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
IH says COVID-19 vaccines safe despite claims of Lytton physician

Doctor makes unsubstantiated claims about serious side effects of Moderna vaccine

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read