Blair recommending ban on ‘assault-style’ firearms, letting cities enact extra rules

Click to play video: 'Minister Blair on tightening handgun controls to prevent theft, smuggling'
Minister Blair on tightening handgun controls to prevent theft, smuggling
WATCH: Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair told reporters on Tuesday that there are additional measures that must be taken to make it more difficult for criminals to access handguns by theft or smuggling across the U.S. border – Jun 18, 2019

Organized Crime Reduction and Border Security Minister Bill Blair says there are some guns that have no place in civil society and he will propose banning “assault-style” firearms while leaving the door open for municipalities to consider further restrictions of their own.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday morning, Blair was asked about a report in the Toronto Star that the Liberals will not put a national ban on handguns in place but, instead, will target “assault-style” weapons and allow cities to take additional measures on how and if handguns can be stored within their boundaries.

READ MORE: ‘We don’t need them in Canada’ — Poll finds 6 in 10 Canadians want ban on handguns, assault weapons

“It’s certainly my recommendation,” he said when asked about whether the Liberals will ban assault weapons.

“There are some weapons, quite frankly, in my opinion, that are so dangerous that there really is no place in a safe and civil society for them, and I think there are measures we can take to make those guns just generally unacceptable and inaccessible.”

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WATCH: Majority of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles

Click to play video: 'Majority of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: Angus Reid Institute'
Majority of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: Angus Reid Institute

He said there are roughly 200,000 so-called “assault-style” firearms in Canada.

Blair also noted that the measures the Liberals will propose to tackle gun violence will impose tougher safe-storage requirements for other firearms as opposed to restricting or removing legally owned weapons from law-abiding owners.

READ MORE: Federal government consultations reveal polarization over idea to ban some guns

But he said because of the gun and gang violence hitting cities across the country in recent years, the government will consider letting municipalities enact restrictions and potential bans of their own that go beyond the national safe-storage rules.

“Because of the particular vulnerability of large urban centres to gang violence, there may be additional measures that can be appropriately applied within those municipalities, and we’re prepared to explore that with them,” he said before being pressed for more details.

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WATCH: Ottawa looks to ban semi-automatic rifles, but not handguns

“A municipality might have additional requirements on where and if firearms can be stored within their boundaries.”

According to an Angus Reid poll in May, six out of 10 Canadians want to see handguns banned.

A further three-quarters want a ban on assault weapons.

However, “assault weapon” or “assault-style” are not actually legal terms in Canadian law.

READ MORE: Toronto gun buyback program is most successful in city’s history, nets 2,700 firearms

There are three classes of firearms in Canada: non-restricted (which includes most hunting rifles and shotguns, or “long guns”), restricted (which includes most handguns and semi-automatic weapons within certain size parameters) and prohibited (certain concealable handguns and fully automatic firearms).

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When it comes to so-called assault weapons, the term is generally used to refer to firearms that are at least semi-automatic, can fire large amounts of ammunition and are designed for rapid fire.

Blair said there are a number of outstanding issues that still need to be addressed when it comes to how any ban, new safe-storage rules or municipal restrictions could work, but the minister said that work will not be done before the election.

The House of Commons is set to rise for the summer at the end of the week and will not return until after Canadians go to the polls.

“In order to consider putting additional weapons on the prohibited list, and then how we remove those weapons from society — whether they’re grandfathered or subject to a buyback — I think that merits careful consideration and discussion in Parliament,” he said.

“There’s no time to do that in the current session.”

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