Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation Monday that would put a freeze on importing, buying or selling handguns.
“We are capping the number of handguns in this country,” Trudeau said.
The regulations to halt the growth of personally owned handguns is expected to be enacted this fall.
“It will be illegal to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” the prime minister said. Families of shooting victims joined him at a press conference in Ottawa.
Canada already has plans to ban 1,500 types of military-style firearms and offer a mandatory buyback program that will begin at the end of the year. Trudeau said if someone really wants to keep their assault weapon it will be made completely inoperable.
Canada already expanded background checks.
Trudeau has long had plans to enact tougher gun laws but the introduction of the new measure comes after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, this month.
Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said Canada is very different from the United States.
“In Canada, gun ownership is a privilege not a right,” Blair said. “This is a principal that differentiates ourselves from many other countries in the world, notably our colleagues and friends to the south."
Canada has had far fewer mass shootings than the U.S. in part because of a lack of easy access to guns, though the U.S. population also is far larger than Canada's.
Blair noted guns are often smuggled in illegally from the U.S., which he noted has one of the largest small arms arsenals in the world.
The government plans to fight gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, providing more tools to investigate firearms crimes and strengthening border measures. Trudeau said increased funding already helped border officials double the amount of smuggled guns confiscated at the U.S. border.
The government said the bill would also allow for the removal of gun licenses from people involved in acts of domestic violence or criminal harassment, such as stalking.
The bill would create a new “red flag” law allowing courts to require that people considered a danger to themselves or others surrender their firearms to police. The government said the measure would guard the safety of those applying through the process, often women in danger of domestic abuse, by protecting their identities.
The government said it will require rifle magazines to be permanently altered so they can never hold more than five rounds and will ban the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines under the Criminal Code.
Trudeau said his government recognizes the vast majority of Canadians who own guns are responsible but the level of gun violence is unacceptable.
The new measures are assured of passing in Canada's Parliament as the ruling Liberals and leftist opposition New Democrats have enough votes.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.