OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is banning the sale of military-grade assault weapons in the aftermath of the country’s deadliest mass shooting two weeks ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said at a daily media briefing in Ottawa. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”
Trudeau has previously said a ban was in the works even before the most recent mass shooting almost two weeks ago, in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia, where a gunman armed with weapons that included an assault rifle killed 22 people.
A source told Reuters on Thursday that the ban would be announced soon and would include several variations of assault-style weapons.
When he announced the measure, Trudeau also cited the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique shooting in Montreal, where a man killed 14 women and himself due to radical anti-feminist sentiments.
Families and friends of gun violence victims “deserve more than thoughts and prayers,” Trudeau said.
The ban – which includes buying, selling, transporting, importing or using the designated weapons – will become effective immediately by changing government regulations, Trudeau said.
Current owners of the weapons have two years to dispose of them, and Trudeau said the government will later bring in legislation to provide “fair compensation.”
Trudeau’s Liberal party campaigned in October’s federal election on a promise to bring in stricter gun control.
Although the debate around guns is less heated in Canada than in the United States, many Indigenous communities use guns as part of traditional hunting practices.
Trudeau acknowledged this, but said that “you don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”
Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party and the official opposition, slammed the ban as ineffective and said it punished law-abiding citizens.
“The vast majority of gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained firearms,” Scheer said in a statement. “Nothing the Trudeau Liberals announced today addresses this problem.”
Canadian pollster Angus Reid released a survey on Friday which found that 78% of Canadians support a ban on military-grade assault weapons.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Andrea Ricci)