Montreal opposition wants handgun ban, criticizes Trudeau
MONTREAL - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promised military-style assault gun ban doesn't go far enough in taking firearms off Montreal streets, the municipal opposition said on Wednesday.
PolySeSouvient, a gun control advocacy group founded after the 1989 massacre at Ecole Polytechnique, joined Ensemble Montreal, the municipal opposition party, in demanding a federal handgun ban.
During the 2019 federal election campaign, Trudeau said a Liberal government would introduce legislation to prohibit “all military-style assault rifles." The prime-minister also cities could ban handguns on their territory if they wanted to.
In Toronto, shootings are on the rise. In Montreal last month, several people were shot. Both cities recently called for a nationwide handgun ban.
But leaving such a ban to municipalities is useless, insisted Lionel Perez, leader of Ensemble Montreal. There's no way to enforce a localized handgun ban, he said.
"We asked the federal government to ban the private possession of handguns, but Mr. Trudeau wants to give that responsibility to the cities, who don't have the power to apply it," he argued in a press release. "What's stopping people from procuring a gun in neighbouring cities? If the federal government doesn't ban handguns everywhere, it's a waste of time."
The councillor's statement came one month before the 30th anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre, when a shooter killed 14 women at the engineering school. Heidi Rathjen witnessed the shooting.
There is an urgent need to pass gun control legislation quickly, Rathjen said. She urged cities to oppose the federal plan to leave handgun bans in the hands of municipal authorities, arguing such action would be "ineffective and unrealistic."
At a press conference on Wednesday, Rathjen and Perez argued that, if the Liberal government wouldn't take action, Montreal should pursue a gun buyback program for unwanted and unused guns.
In Toronto, a similar program resulted in the purchase and destruction of 2,200 rifles and 900 pistols, the groups said. Authorities paid $200 for a rifle, $350 for a pistol.
The city of Montreal recognized that a handgun ban should be left to Ottawa and said a gun buyback program would need national support to be effective.
"We can't be taking on this responsibility at taxpayers expense all on our own," said councillor Alex Norris, a member of Mayor Valerie Plante's Project Montreal party. "The SPVM has taken part in the past in buyback programs, but this was always in the context of a national program."
Kathleen Dixon, whose daughter was shot twice and survived the Dawson College shooting in 2006, said the federal government hasn't gone far enough in limiting access to firearms.
"To me, this is a cop-out on the federal government to not have to go to war continuously with the gun lobby on the handgun ban," she said.
In a phone interview with CTV News, Blair Hagen, executive vice president for the National Firearms Association, said the group would fight any move to ban handguns or assault-style weapons -- like they did when Prime-Minister Jean Chretien introduced the federal gun registry in 1993.
"We'd certainly put up a legal and constitutional battle," he said.