Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he will give municipalities the authority to ban handguns in their communities.
The plan stops short of a national ban on handguns, something that mayors, doctors and other health professionals are calling for.
The Liberal gun-control plan would outlaw the semi-automatic AR-15, a military-grade weapon used in many recent U.S. mass shootings, as well as a buy-back program for legally purchased assault rifles.
But it doesn’t go as far as a prohibition on pistols.
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Trudeau made his handgun announcement Tuesday after meeting a group of Toronto-area mayors to discuss rising gun violence, focusing on the issue for the second straight day.
Almost all of the mayors who lined up behind Trudeau raised their hands in support of a national ban on handguns when asked by a reporter.
Trudeau defended his decision not to ban handguns nationally, saying his plan to ban assault rifles was still better than the approach of his Conservative opponents. He accused them of weakening gun-control efforts.
“We are committed to moving forward on the strongest gun control measures in Canadian history,” he said.
“This is a significant, meaningful and historic step in the right direction.”
On Monday, Trudeau met doctors and other health professionals, some of whom also called on him to ban handguns after describing the bloody fallout from rising gun violence in Toronto.
Some argued an assault-rifle ban does not go far enough, and that letting cities, and ultimately provinces with powers to overrule them, decide whether to bar weapons could lead to a piecemeal system that fails to stop the bloodshed.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he would oppose a ban on handgun sales.
Trudeau also announced a federal commitment of $250 million over five years to help cities develop “on the ground” solutions to gang violence. He said the federal government would give the money directly to municipalities, “bypassing” the need to deal with provinces.
Trudeau said municipal leaders across Ontario and the rest of the country “deserve a partner who will invest in them and give them the tools to keep fighting against gun crime.”
“Unfortunately, the politics at Queen’s Park and Doug Ford’s approach has not delivered the money that municipalities needed to keep their citizens safe, which is why our commitment of $250 million for municipalities will go directly to those municipalities.”