Ottawa Announces Temporary Handgun Import Ban, Permanent Freeze Coming

Ottawa Announces Temporary Handgun Import Ban, Permanent Freeze Coming
Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly speaks alongside the minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, during a press conference announcing new gun control laws, in Toronto, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Peter Wilson

The federal government will temporarily ban import of handguns into Canada starting on Aug. 19, says Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino.

At a press conference in Toronto on Aug. 5, Mendicino said the temporary ban will stop "nearly all individuals and businesses in Canada" from importing handguns.

"Given that nearly all our handguns are imported, this means that we're bringing our national handgun freeze into effect even sooner," he said.

The ban will bypass the need for Parliament's approval by using a regulatory measure enacted by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and will stay in effect until Parliament permanently freezes handgun imports, Mendicino said.

Parliament will address a permanent handgun import freeze—along with placing strict regulations on the purchase and ownership of handguns in Canada—in the proposed Bill C-21, which was tabled in May 2022.

Jolie said at the press conference that as Canada's foreign minister, she has the authority to "deny any export or import permit application" that she deems contrary to Canada's security.

"The import ban that we're announcing today, coupled with Canada's already very strict import controls, will keep handguns off of Canadian streets and out of our school yards," she said.

Mendicino blamed the Conservatives for blocking Liberal efforts to pass Bill C-21 in the past, alleging that that has led to "some of the most devastating shooting tragedies" in the country.

"We are not going to let the Conservatives' obstructionism stand in the way of better protecting our communities and saving lives, and as a government, we are going to act," he said.

Along with introducing Bill C-21 in May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also committed to establishing a national mandatory firearms buyback program, which would require Canadians who own of any of the 1,500 "assault-style" firearms made illegal in 2020 to sell them to the government or dispose of them in some other way.

The Tories have been critical of the Liberals' gun control policies, including their firearms buyback program, saying it will benefit criminals and punish law-abiding gun owners.

“The fact is, hobbyists, collectors, sport shooters, and hunters are not the ones to blame for the rise in gun crime in Canada–gangs, criminals, and the guns they illegally smuggle from the US are,” Raquel Dancho, Conservative shadow minister for public safety, and Pierre Paul-Hus, shadow minister for public services and procurement, said in a statement.

This year, Canada's imports of pistols and revolvers between January and June was up by 52 percent compared to the same time last year, according to government figures.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.