Ottawa:Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, campaigning for re-election, vowed on Friday to ban assault rifles but fell short on handguns, saying only that he would help cities restrict pistols and revolvers in response to a spate of shootings.
“You don’t need military-grade assault weapons, ones designed to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time, to take down a deer,” he told a news conference in Toronto.
There have been 311 shootings in Canada’s largest city so far this year, with gun violence having increased incrementally each year to almost triple the rate in 2014.
Across Canada, there were 2,500 more shooting victims in 2017 than in 2013, Trudeau noted as he listed off several shootings just this week, including the murder of a teen in Mississauga on Sunday and the shooting of a man in Calgary on Monday.
Most of the shootings have been blamed on gang violence and illegal guns.
The proposed ban would include, he said, AR-15 lightweight semi-automatic rifles. A buyback program would also be rolled out for those already in the hands of Canadians.
Gun violence in Canada has been far less frequent and impactful than in the neighboring United States.
But it has become an election issue with the mayors of Toronto and Montreal demanding stricter measures, and the Conservatives — who support tougher penalties for gun crimes — running Trudeau’s Liberals neck and neck in the polls.
Canadians will vote on October 21, with the campaign dominated in recent days by Trudeau’s apologies over decades-old images of him wearing “blackface” makeup.