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

Week of snow storms finally fades

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

VIDEO: Time’s running out for Montreal Alumni tickets in Hope

Habs will face off against Hope hockey players on Saturday afternoon

5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

Peking Acrobats bring extraordinary exhibition of agility, athleticism and grace to Chilliwack

They will perform in beautiful costumes with dazzling special effects and live musicians

EDITORIAL: Honouring Kent’s history

Former editor Grace Kennedy reflects on the special edition for the 125th anniversary

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

Young child seriously injured in suspected drunk driving crash in Delta

“This needs to stop,” says Insp. Ciaran Feenan, head of the Delta Police Department’s patrol section

Elderly man in serious condition after being hit by bus in Burnaby

RCMP believe man, 82, was not at a crosswalk at the time

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Most Read