Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has announced that his government will be banning assault-style weapons, in response to last week’s Nova Scotia rampage that saw 22 killed.
The disturbing April 18-19 attack saw a 51-year-old denturist go on a wild killing spree, in which he shot his victims with two semi-automatic rifles and pistols, and also torched homes – to be later killed in a confrontation with police. Canadian police said it wasn’t immediately clear why the suspect, identified as Gabriel Wortman, went on his 13-hour rampage, while reports have tied his violent breakdown to a property dispute and to alcohol abuse during the lockdown.
Notably, the guns found in Wortman’s possession were not obtained legally. This didn’t stop the influx of calls for tighter gun controls in Canada, culminating in Trudeau’s Friday announcement.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” the prime minister said, concluding that “there is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.
Trudeau’s ban will cover 1,500 different models of firearms. It outlaws the purchase, sale, transport, or import of “military-grade assault weapons” that were already classed as “prohibited” under somewhat-convoluted existing Canadian gun law, and gives gun-owners two years to turn in the newly-banned weapons. A buyback program is in the works, though the legislation Trudeau said he plans to propose must pass Parliament first.
The ban has infuriated Canadian gun owners, who have pointed to the fact that Wortman was not licensed to own any of the firearms he used to commit the massacre. While the country’s police agency, the RCMP, has claimed Wortman wielded an “assault-style” weapon, the other models of gun he used have not been made public and it is not yet known whether they are included in the far-reaching ban. Trudeau had made such a ban a cornerstone of his campaign platform, however, indicating he would have introduced it anyway, even without the massacre in Nova Scotia.
The list of banned guns also drew ridicule from some quarters, for the presence on it of actual military weapons – surface-to-air missile launchers, RPGs, and other heavy-duty arms that almost never end up in civilian hands.