Trudeau demands halt to handgun sales, "buyback" of semi-auto long guns

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Citing the murders in Uvalde, Texas, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his plan to “freeze” handgun sales and require existing owners of semi-automatic rifles to hand them over to the government in a compensated confiscation scheme that would take place before the end of the year.

Trudeau’s previous gun control plan had allowed for provinces to ban handguns, which are already tightly restricted at the federal level, but his new move would leave provincial governments powerless to prevent the restrictions from being enforced within their boundaries. There are other components to Trudeau’s new legislation, including capping magazine capacity at five rounds and a “red flag”-style firearms seizure law that allows police to seize firearms from individuals after a judge has determined they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Canada doesn’t have any equivalent to the Second Amendment in its own constitution, which means the chances of overturning the legislation via the courts are slim. Meanwhile, even though Trudeau’s Liberal Party doesn’t have an outright majority in Parliament, there are enough pro-gun control votes that passage is a near certainty.

The law introduced on Monday fulfills a pledge made by Mr. Trudeau last year to force owners of military-style rifles to turn them in for destruction. Mr. Trudeau’s proposal will allow some exemptions, but those weapons must be modified by the government to make them permanently inoperable.

There is, though, no legal definition of a “military-style assault weapon.” Mr. Trudeau said the government would seek to come up with one that could not be easily circumvented by gun makers.

Until then, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will continue to evaluate weapons on a model-by-model basis to see if they belong on the ever expanding banned list introduced by Mr. Trudeau in 2020.

Some 1,500 models of modern sporting rifles were included in Trudeau’s original list of banned guns, but that figure is likely to grow exponentially in the weeks ahead. However, it sounds like the first measure to take effect will be the ban on new handgun sales.

While the freeze is part of the bill, the government tabled regulations Monday that could see it implemented before the law itself receives royal assent.

Government officials said the regulations are to ensure the freeze can be implemented swiftly to curb any possible run on the market while the bill itself is wending its way through Parliament.

The number of registered handguns in Canada increased by 71 per cent between 2010 and 2020, reaching approximately 1.1 million, according to federal statistics.

While there are no firm figures on the number of handguns that are lawfully owned in the U.S., according to the ATF there were more than 3-million pistols manufactured in the United States in 2019 (a number that undoubtably increased in 2020 and 2021 as gun sales surged across the country). Canadian gun laws have long targeted handguns for additional restrictions, including registration and licensing requirements and mandatory storage laws in addition to a prohibition on carrying firearms for self-defense, but the new regulations will ensure that going forward, law-abiding citizens have no access at all to a pistol.

The black market for firearms, on the other hand, is going to grow even larger, though Trudeau and company are downplaying that reality by also increasing penalties for gun trafficking.

The U.S. gun control lobby would love to be able to implement these kinds of restrictions here at home, but that pesky Second Amendment (and the 100-million-or-so gun owners) stand in the way of their ambitions… at least for now. If, as expected, the pending Dobbs decision overturns Roe v. Wade, you better believe that overturning the Supreme Court’s decisions in Heller, McDonald, and the upcoming Bruen case will all be prime targets the next time progressives have a majority on the Court. Overturning those laws and turning the right of the people to keep and bear arms into a privilege to be doled out by the State is the long-term goal of the anti-gun movement, and Justin Trudeau is giving us just a small peek at what’s in store for American gun owners if the firearm prohibitionists get their way.

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET