Canada introducing temporary ban on handgun imports

The Canadian government has temporarily banned the importing of handguns into the country. Cormac Mac Sweeney with how the move buys the feds more time to implement a permanent solution.

By Cormac Mac Sweeney and Hana Mae Nassar

The federal government is introducing a temporary ban on the import of handguns.

It will begin on Aug. 19 and last until the national handgun freeze takes effect. The ban means no individuals or businesses will be able to import handguns into Canada, subject to some narrow exceptions.

“Put simply, from that moment forward, the number of handguns in Canada will only go down,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday.

He notes Canada plans to ban such imports without the approval of Parliament, using a regulatory measure that comes into effect in two weeks.

“We came up with this idea of creating this new system of requiring permits. But, meanwhile, we will deny any permits,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly explained.

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All handguns in Canada have to be imported because they are not produced in this country.

This move effectively fast tracks one element of the the national freeze on the purchase, sale, importation and transfer of handguns, announced two months ago when the Trudeau Liberals introduced legislation in the House of Commons.

The government also pledged to start buying back thousands of banned assault-style weapons before the end of the year.

Bill C-21, which is still before Parliament, will also stop any sales or transfers of handguns in Canada, but allow current owners to keep them. It’s seen as a way to get rid of these types of firearms through attrition.


“We’re going to continue to collect data and monitor as we always do. But we are hopeful that this legislation is going to pass quickly,” Justin Trudeau said in May 2022.

The tabling of the bill was announced just after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, where 19 children and two teachers were killed.

Conservatives and firearms rights advocates have opposed the bill, saying this only punishes legally responsible gun owners and does nothing to deal with the real problem of preventing the illegal gun trade.

There have also been concerns raised of potential hoarding of handguns before the freeze is brought in.

The Coalition for Gun Control told CityNews days after the legislation was tabled that it feared there would be a spike in sales before Bill C-21 can take effect. The group’s Wendy Cukier said handgun sales had  already been on a troubling rise.

“By 2006, there were 360,000 when Paul Martin said he was going to ban handguns. Now there are over a million,” she told CityNews.

“The horrible irony is after every time there’s a mass shooting or a tragedy, gun sales spike.”

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