(OTTAWA) New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh tried to dispel doubts on Tuesday. He called for a ban on assault weapons and handguns, but was unclear on how New Democrats would go about targeting manufacturers.
“I want to make it clear that I, personally as a leader, and we as a party, we are for a ban on assault weapons, he said in a press briefing. We are for a ban on handguns. »
The groups PolySeSouvient in Montreal and Danforth Families for Safe Communities in Toronto had called on Mr. Singh the previous day to clarify his party’s position. They accuse some New Democrat MPs of having relayed the misinformation conveyed by the pro-gun lobby. The NDP, they say, is undermining gun control efforts during the study of Bill C-21 in parliamentary committee.
A coalition of 32 feminist organizations, including the Fédération des femmes du Québec, also wrote to the NDP leader asking him to “strongly” support new amendments to ban assault weapons and impose a the sale of new handguns. The coalition is calling on the NDP to “work urgently” to ensure the legislation passes third reading before Parliament adjourns for the summer.
Singh said his party would table its own amendments to close loopholes used by gun manufacturers. “The approach in the past was an approach that effectively ignored the manufacturers,” he said. […] We are going to put an end to that with the amendments that we are going to propose this week. »
He was unable to explain how the New Democrats will go about it. The government caused a surprise in February by withdrawing two controversial amendments that added a ban on assault weapons to Bill C-21 on gun control. The gesture was welcomed by all the main opposition parties.
Both amendments included an evolving definition to encompass both firearms already on the market and those to come, and a long list of prohibited models that ran to more than 300 pages. This list had sown anger and confusion. In addition to the models already banned by decree, it included the SKS, a military-style weapon frequently used by hunters and Aboriginal people. The Assembly of First Nations strongly opposed Bill C-21 in December, months before the government withdrew its amendments.
Singh would not comment on whether the NDP amendments would also ban SKS. He also avoided giving a straight answer when asked by La Presse whether he agreed or disagreed with a list of prohibited assault weapon models.
“We are open to finding solutions to ban assault weapons or handguns, but we do not support the Liberal approach,” he replied. What they did did not work, they did not consult the indigenous communities. »
The amendments proposed by the New Democrats would include a definition that would clarify “the liability of manufacturers” of firearms and mechanisms that would prevent them from making technical modifications to their products to avoid the law.
The two-pronged approach to banning assault weapons with a definition and a list is advocated by PolySeSouvient because it is more comprehensive. The goal is to ban military-style weapons that can be used in mass shootings like the one at the Polytechnic, where 14 women were killed and 13 others injured, or like the one that occurred in the Danforth neighborhood in Toronto, 2018, which left two dead and 13 injured.