Saskatchewan municipal leaders have expressed seemingly no plans to ban gun ownership, according to the mayors of the province’s three largest cities.
On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan government announced amendments to Bill 194, preventing municipalities from banning handgun and other firearm ownership through bylaws. It came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in May that legislation was coming to give cities gun-banning powers.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province’s move prevents a patchwork of varying gun rules in the province, while “protecting the rights of law-abiding firearm owners.”
In an interview, Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said he never would have sought a ban.
“That doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t participate in that kind of program at all,” Dionne said.
He said banning guns in cities wouldn’t be useful, as criminals don’t typically follow the rules and could travel from a city with prohibitions to one without to obtain firearms.
Potential municipal gun bans have never come up during conference calls or other meetings among civic leaders, he said.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere told Global News banning gun ownership at the local level “is not helpful.”
“For mayors across the province, we’ve never discussed this as being an urgent issue that we needed to be involved in,” Fougere said
While gun owners may not have been at risk in Saskatchewan, Fougere said the province’s amendment announced Tuesday did send a message that firearm restrictions are not up for municipal consideration.
Dionne and Fougere both said gun-related crime in their communities is more often associated with rifles, often improvised, rather than handguns.
“In eastern Canada, I think handguns might be more prevalent than they are here,” Fougere said.
In a statement Tuesday, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said “handguns are not the driver of violence that has been affecting our neighbourhoods.”
“I am not aware of any municipality in Saskatchewan that has been entertaining a handgun ban,” Clark said.
While Clark said he’s concerned about recent increases in violence and crime, he said the city needs to address their root causes: “gaps in support systems that address housing, mental health, addictions, poverty, and racism.”
On May 1, the federal government also announced a ban on what it calls “assault-style firearms,” including more than 1,500 models and variants.