(Ottawa) Disappointed, furious… Groups campaigning for a ban on assault weapons did not hide their anger on Monday. The federal government introduced its new amendments to Bill C-21 to ban assault weapons. However, these new criteria risk being easily circumvented by the industry, warns the PolySeSouvient group.
“I am extremely angry, extremely disappointed and feel betrayed. Betrayed once again because this is not the first time that Mr. Trudeau and his team have been told that this is not what they promised, “reacted Nathalie Provost of PolySeSouvient, who was injured in the mass shooting at the École Polytechnique in 1989.
The hindsight is “significant, complete” for the one who has been campaigning to ban assault weapons for 33 years in order to avoid another mass killing like that of Polytechnique where 14 women had lost their lives.
“I don’t want to be a bird of doom, but it’s like they’re calling a big slaughter in Canada just to prove that their famous law didn’t work,” she added. Imagine a killing with an SKS in a month, in a year even. It’s unbelievable, but it’s possible. »
“I’m upset, I’m sad,” reacted in turn the co-founder of the Grand Mosque of Quebec, Boufeldja Benabdallah, where six worshipers were killed in 2017. He deplored the fact that groups campaigning for the ban assault weapons found themselves “in the middle” of political negotiations.
The new amendments proposed Monday by the Liberals were the subject of long negotiations between the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois.
“This is the best way forward in this Parliament so that we can move Bill C-21 forward and introduce the most important gun control and gun violence reduction legislation in a generation” , said the Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino.
He unveiled on Monday the new definition of prohibited weapons that he intends to include in the Criminal Code through Bill C-21 on gun control. It will encompass weapons “that are not handguns”, semi-automatic “that can fire centre-fire ammunition” and that were “originally designed with a detachable magazine with a capacity of six rounds or more”.
However, it is this last sentence that poses a problem for PolySeSouvient. The group sees this as a loophole that gun makers could work around by marketing guns with a smaller capacity magazine, which could later be changed to a larger capacity magazine.
The definition remains prospective, that is, it will apply to new weapons that enter the Canadian market and not to those that are already in circulation. About 2,000 assault weapons are already banned under a decree passed in 2020. PolySeSouvient wanted to add 482 models, which were included in previous amendments withdrawn by the government in February.
The Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, announced last Tuesday that he intended to table a new definition of assault weapons taking into account one of the recommendations of the Commission on the killings in Portapique, Nova Scotia. He also indicated that his government was abandoning the long list of prohibited assault weapons included in previous amendments which had raised an outcry.
The SKS, a military-style weapon frequently used by hunters and Aboriginal people, would therefore remain legal. This firearm has been used several times in recent years to kill police officers.
The government intends to reinstate the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to review the classification of firearms in an attempt to resolve this issue. Minister Mendicino has promised a new decree like that of 2020 to modify it.
The Liberals caused a surprise in February by withdrawing these two controversial amendments that added a ban on assault weapons to Bill C-21 on gun control. The gesture was then well received by all the main opposition parties.