Buyback program offered for gun owners, but details remain unclear
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
Considering the gun buyback program, Bill Blair estimates that there are over 150,000 to 200,000 firearms in Canada. It could cost up to $300 to 400 million.
On May 1, 2020, PM Justin Trudeau announced a municipal gun ban called Bill C-21 which covers over 1500 firearms following the shootings that occurred in Nova Scotia in April 2020. As of February 16, Trudeau has announced that the federal government will be introducing a gun buyback program for “assault style” firearms (which has no real definition in Canada). Current prohibited gun owners are exempt from this law until April 30, 2022 and can only transfer their firearms for certain reasons.
This legislation will allow municipalities to change bylaws surrounding firearm transport, storage, and possession which can be enforced with jailtime for violators. Bill C-21 also says it will also make stricter criminal punishments for firearm smugglers and traffickers (10 to 14 years in prison) and enhance border security to keep illegal firearms out of the country. Public Health Minister Bill Blair also says owners of prohibited firearms will no longer be able to “grandfather” or bequeath their guns and that those who don’t sell their guns back to the government will be held responsible if they end up in the hands of criminals. Furthermore, the bill includes a “red flag” and “yellow flag” law which dictates that people can ask to have a gun owner’s guns removed from them or their licence reviewed if they feel there is a risk of danger to themselves or the public. Despite this, the details of the federal government’s gun buyback program remain to be seen. Bill Blair estimates that there are over 150,000 to 200,000 firearms in Canada, which can cost up to $300 to 400 million (if the average price for each firearm was $1300).
Despite the backlash from gun advocates, Trudeau says in a news conference that this law is not punishing law abiding gun owners. “We are not targeting law-abiding citizens who own guns to go hunting or for sport shooting. The measures we’re proposing are concrete and practical. And they have one goal and one goal only—protecting you, your family, and your community. Because the victims are real. The pain of their families is real.”
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says in a news release that this new law will do nothing to curb gun violence. “I think Mr. Trudeau misleads people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other Canadians who are law-abiding is somehow going to solve the problem of shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities. It’s ignoring the real problem and it’s dividing Canadians.”
Both mayors of BC’s biggest cities, Vancouver and Surrey say they will adopt these new gun laws once legislation is passed. Bill C-21 currently remains in the House of Commons and awaits Senate approval before being made federal law.