Canada’s public safety minister said two long-guns used in the Nova Scotia mass shooting are included in the list of more than 1,500 “military-style assault weapons” now banned in Canada.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters Friday the firearms used by the gunman who killed 22 people are covered by the ban, but did not specify the models. He said it’s the responsibility of the RCMP to release that information.
“Every firearm begins legally and then moves into an illegal market,” Blair said.
“I can say with some confidence that the two long-guns that were involved in that investigation, without identifying them, are included on today’s list.”
Nova Scotia RCMP have said the gunman used several semi-automatic pistols and two semi-automatic rifles, but declined to offer further details about the weapons citing the ongoing investigation.
RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell told reporters on Tuesday that one of the weapons “could be described” as a military-style assault rifle.
“What I can say is that there was what could be considered a weapon that could be described that way,” Campbell said, adding that further ballistics testing was being conducted.
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The RCMP did not respond to questions Saturday about whether there were plans to release more information about the firearms and how they were obtained.
Blair told Global News’ The West Block the ban on military-style weapons was necessary following the tragedy in Nova Scotia. He said the Liberal government is also planning to introduce so-called “red flag” laws to remove firearms from individuals who are involved in domestic violence.
“When that information becomes publicly available, Canadians will understand the relevance of the measures that we have taken today in the prohibition of military-style weapons to the tragedy in Nova Scotia,” Blair said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also referenced the Nova Scotia shootings in announcing an immediate ban on what he described as “military-style assault weapons.”
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said.
“There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”
The ban covers several broad rifle models, including the AR-15 family of rifles used in Sandy Hook, Conn., Parkland, Fl., Las Vegas, Nev., and many of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S.
The legislation also targets the Ruger Mini-14 used in the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal Que., in 1989, as well as the M14 used to kill three RCMP officers in Moncton, N.B. in 2014.
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Full details on which guns are covered by the ban are listed here in the Canada Gazette.
The legislation means that as of Friday, licensed gun owners will no longer be allowed to sell, transport, import or use these types of weapons in the country.
“The vast majority of gun owners use them safely, responsibly and in accordance with the law – whether it be for work, for sport-shooting, for collecting or for hunting,” Trudeau said. “But you do not need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer slammed the bill as unfairly punishing law-abiding citizens.
“The vast majority of gun crimes are committed with illegally-obtained firearms,” he said. “Nothing the Trudeau Liberals announced today addresses this problem.”
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Meanwhile, RCMP have said they believe most of the Nova Scotia gunman’s weapons were obtained from the United States. Investigators have said they have a “fairly good idea” he didn’t have a licence to possess firearms in Canada.
Blair told the West Block that when Parliament resumes, the Liberal government will take further action to tackle illegal smuggling of firearms at the Canada-U.S. border and new measures to control ammunition and large-capacity magazines.
He also said the legislation would crackdown on “the illegal firearms that get into the hands of criminals through theft.” Earlier this year, the RCMP launched an investigation after 8 handguns and 4 AR-15 rifles were stolen from a home in Aylesford, N.S.
“We’ll bring forward legislation that will give us new tools, new authorities to stop the illegal smuggling of firearms into Canada, the illegal trafficking of firearms through diversion and straw purchase,” he said.
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It’s unclear how many firearms owners will be affected by the ban as the government has not tracked the numbers since the long-gun registry was scrapped in 2014. Officials told reporters on Friday that at least 105,000 now-banned weapons owned by 72,000 firearm owners would be impacted.
According to the Canada Gazette, 2.2 million people in Canada hold firearms licenses.
A.J. Somerset, a former gunnery instructor with the Canadian Forces and gun policy expert, said that without a long-gun registry it will be difficult for the federal government to know who has the firearms covered under the ban.
“Some of them will be easy. The AR-15 family is already restricted, so they’re registered and they know where those guns are,” Somerset said. “But the mini-14, the M14, those are two rifles on the list that are non–restricted, and with no long gun registry, they have no idea really where those are.”
“The estimate of how many rifles there are is just based on the importation of rifles,” he said. “They don’t actually even know how many there are.”
Roughly half of urban Canadians surveyed support a full ban on gun ownership, a new poll by Ipsos suggests. A survey released by Angus Reid found that 78 per cent of Canadians support a ban on military-grade assault weapons.