“It needs to stop.”

That from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the beginning of his media briefing on new gun laws Friday (May 1).

The Prime Minister was referencing historic mass shootings in Canada and gave some insight into where he was on December 6, 1989, during the mass shooting at L’ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, “I was shocked, I was 17 years old, and I couldn’t understand that such an act of violence could happen in this country.”

Trudeau then announced the federal government has banned military-grade assault weapons effective immediately.  Trudeau said it is now illegal to buy, sell, transport, import or to use 1,500 models and variants of these weapons. Trudeau says they have one purpose only, “to kill a vast amount of people quickly and they have no use or place in Canada.”

He acknowledged the vast majority of Canadian gun owners use them safely and responsibly and in accordance with the law for sport shooting and hunting or on their farms, however the PM added, “you don’t need an AR-15 to take down a deer”.

There will also be a two year amnesty period for people who own these guns legally in order to comply with the law and legislation will be tabled to ensure fair compensation for the owners. The guns will only be allowed to be exported with a valid export licence or transported for the purpose of deactivation.  The firearms are to be stored safely and in compliance with the law and are not to be used beginning immediately.

Stringent firearms control was a Liberal campaign promise in the fall.  Trudeau says the Liberals will work with the opposition parties to table even more gun legislation in the future.

On a provincial level, Alberta’s Justice Minister says the UCP government will scrutinize the federal firearms ban and explore potential responses.

Doug Schweitzer says violent criminals who use guns are often released with soft sentences, saying rather than focus on law-abiding Canadians, the provincial government would call on Parliament to bring back tough, mandatory sentences for the criminals who endanger others with their use of illegal guns.

In November 2019, the Alberta legislature unanimously passed Government Motion 41, which stated:

“Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly recognize and support the ability of Albertans to lawfully and in a responsible manner own and possess firearms and to engage in permitted activities involving the use of firearms, including but not limited to hunting and sport shooting.”