Canadian government proposes ban on assault-style firearms

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OTTAWA, Canada (AP) — The Canadian government is proposing a ban on assault-style firearms that would apply once legislation now before Parliament comes into force.

Under the scheme announced Monday, the government would make regulations through the Firearms Act to ensure that guns are classified correctly before entering the Canadian market.

“I want to make it clear that our government is not targeting hunters and law-abiding gun owners,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a news conference. “What we’re doing is protecting families, protecting our children, protection our communities.”

The government also plans to recreate a firearms advisory committee that will make recommendations on the classification of guns now on the market.

Mendicino said the committee will include rural and northern residents, Indigenous people, industry leaders, law enforcement and gun control advocates.

“Guided by the committee’s recommendation we will increase the classifications of firearms for ban,” he said. “This committee will be convened quickly and asked to provide its advice to the government as soon as this summer.”

Mendicino said measures are being taken so future governments “will have a very difficult time making assault-tyle firearms legal again.”

The Liberals withdrew a gun bill amendment in February that would have spelled out in law the various models to fall under an assault-style firearm ban.

They had touted the definition as a measure that would cement in legislation a May 2020 regulatory ban of some 1,500 firearm models and variants, as well as 482 others flagged subsequently.

The government pulled the measure after weeks of criticism from Conservative MPs and some firearm advocates who said the definition would prohibit many commonly used hunting rifles and shotguns.

Gun-control advocates said the effort was clouded by confusing language and misleading or erroneous claims from opponents.

Prominent gun-control group PolySeSouvient swiftly denounced the new plan, accusing the government of proposing a watered-down definition that would apply only to future models and could be easily circumvented.

It also expressed dismay that the government is dropping its plan to ban the additional 482 assault-style models identified last year, leaving them in circulation and available for purchase.