Ever since the federal government announced last week plans to tighten laws on handguns in Canada, sales have been swift at P & D Enterprises, a gun shop in downtown Edmonton.
“It’s been unbelievable. The phones are ringing off the hook, and yes we’ve sold out of 100 per cent of our handguns,” owner Chris Gubersky told CTV News Edmonton.
On Monday Ottawa announced the proposed legislation, which could come into effect as soon as this fall. Bill C-21 could, in part, put a national freeze on importing, buying, selling or otherwise transferring handguns.
It doesn’t outright ban them. Current owners would still be allowed to possess and use their firearms, but Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino didn’t rule out the possibility of a national ban on handguns in Canada when asked on Sunday.
“Bill C-21 doesn’t target law-abiding gun owners, it targets handgun violence, it targets organized crime. We’re raising max sentences against illegal smugglers, giving police new wiretap powers,” he said.
But critics of the bill are skeptical that it will do what the federal Liberals say it will.
“I do not think what they are doing now will decrease gun crimes in Canada,” Gubersky said.
While the number of shootings in Edmonton in the first four months of this year has risen by roughly 30 per cent compared to the same period last year, a local criminologist also isn’t convinced Mendicino’s moves will help.
“The firearms ban in particular will likely have no measurable impact on public safety in Canada,” said Doug King from Mount Royal University.
King wants to see illegal guns tracked, and more controls at Canada’s borders, something Alberta’s chief firearm officer agrees with.
“We need a lot more people at the border, and we need more people in firearms offices across our country,” Teri Bryant said.
During his weekend radio show, Premier Jason Kenney promised to back Bryant as she challenges the legislation.
The bill would also create a new “red flag” law where firearms could be taken from a gun owner for up to 30 days if they become a danger to themselves or others. Licences could also be revoked in new cases of domestic violence.
“Statistics Canada reports that gun violence is on the rise, specifically handgun violence is on the rise, gender-based and domestic violence in connection with guns is on the rise,” Mendicino said.
In 2020, Ottawa banned 1,500 assault-style weapons and at the same time announced a forthcoming buyback program.
Asked when the buyback program would commence, Mendicino said they are determined to begin the process “by the end of this year.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Chelan Skulski, CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull and The Canadian Press
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