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Trudeau says firearms bill doesn’t target hunters as Carey Price, critics attack reforms

Click to play video: 'Montreal Canadiens superstar Carey Price’s stance on proposed gun control bill sparks backlash'
Montreal Canadiens superstar Carey Price’s stance on proposed gun control bill sparks backlash
Montreal Canadiens superstar Carey Price’s stance on proposed gun control bill sparks backlash – Dec 5, 2022

The federal government’s reforms of gun-control laws won’t take away rifles used by hunters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday as critics, including Montreal Canadiens player Carey Price, speak out against the proposed changes.

A Liberal amendment to Bill C-21, which is currently being studied by members of Parliament, would set out a regulatory ban on what the government calls “assault-style weapons” by putting an evergreen definition for such firearms into law.

The phrase “assault weapon” is not currently a legal term and the automatic weapons that the phrase typically refers to are already prohibited in Canada.

The federal government, though, has frequently used the term assault or “assault-style” to describe weapons capable of firing more than one shot in quick succession, even if they are not automatic firearms.

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The amendment to define “assault-style” firearms in law has drawn criticism from firearms groups, some federal politicians, and Price.

The hockey star posted an Instagram photo on Saturday, showing him with a what appears to be a shotgun and a caption that read in part: “I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What Justin Trudeau is trying to do is unjust.”

Trudeau, who was in Ottawa on Tuesday morning for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus, said in his opening remarks that the federal government has no plans to ban firearms used by hunters.

“We’re not going after rifles and shotguns used by hunters and others in a law-abiding way, but we are going against those guns that are designed to kill the largest number of people in the smallest amount of time,” Trudeau said.

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“Those guns have no place in our communities across the country, and the federal government will continue to be strong on that as we move forward.”

Click to play video: 'Public safety minister defends new gun import ban'
Public safety minister defends new gun import ban

The federal government last month proposed amending its gun control bill to define what an “assault-style” weapon is. It includes a clause that would ban any rifle or shotgun that could potentially accept a magazine with more than five rounds.

It builds on a regulatory ban of more than 1,500 models of what the government considers “assault-style” firearms last year.

The proposed reforms have reopened the debate about what firearms should be prohibited, restricted or non-restricted in the country, and concerns about whether the criteria used to make those decisions are being consistently applied. That’s due to the fact the definition applies only to some variations of certain models, depending on bore diameter and muzzle energy.

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has said the amendment unfairly targets hunters and farmers, while failing to address the country’s issues with gun violence.

The federal NDP, which has partnered with the minority Liberals to pass legislation on shared interests, has voiced concerns about the potential impact on hunters, particularly those who are Indigenous. The Liberals need at least one other party to support their legislation in order to pass bills.

During question period on Monday, Poilievre pressed the government on the proposed amendment.

Click to play video: '‘Leave hunters alone’: Conservative MPs attack Mendicino over proposed gun safety bill'
‘Leave hunters alone’: Conservative MPs attack Mendicino over proposed gun safety bill

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who has previously accused the Conservatives of “fearmongering,” responded in the House of Commons by noting that Tuesday marked the 33rd anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, when a gunman killed 14 women on Dec. 6, 1989.

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Earlier in the day, Mendicino blamed the Conservatives for sowing confusion among Canadians, suggesting Price may have fallen prey to it. Mendicino added it appeared the gun Price was holding in the photo is legal and would remain so under the government’s legislation.

On Tuesday morning, Price defended his opinions on Bill C-21 in a statement, but apologized for taking a stance on the issue on the eve of the Polytechnique massacre.

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“I think the people of Montreal know my heart and my character and know I would never intentionally cause pain to those impacted by gun violence,” he said.

“Despite a previous statement released, I did in fact know about the tragedy. I have been a member of the Montreal community for 15 years and I understand the weight this day holds within the community.

“While I have no control over the timing of the amendment to Bill C-21 I stand by the opinions I’ve shared, I acknowledge that amplifying any conversation around this week may have upset some of those impacted most by the events here in 1989 and to them I apologize.”

A photo posted on Carey Price’s official Instagram account Saturday shows the Montreal Canadiens goalie holding what appears to be a hunting rifle. The post was captioned with Price’s apparent stance on the federal government’s proposed changes to Bill C-21. Carey Price Instagram

Trudeau’s remarks on Tuesday echo those he made on Monday during an event, in which he said the federal government is consulting Canadians on the list.

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“We’re also continuing to move forward with significant measures to keep our community safe, whether it’s investing massively to strengthen our border measures against guns coming in illegally from the United States, but also moving forward with a national freeze on handguns,” he said Tuesday.

“We’re also moving forward on banning assault-style weapons. We banned them a couple of years ago. We’re continuing to make sure that we get that list right.”

— with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press

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