Canada’s new nationwide ban on handgun sales, purchases and transfers goes into effect Friday in the government’s latest move to reduce gun violence across the country.
Beginning Friday, people cannot buy, sell, or transfer handguns within Canada, nor can they bring newly acquired handguns into the country, according to the announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“With handgun violence increasing across Canada, it is our duty to take urgent action to remove these deadly weapons from our communities,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Trudeau announced the freeze in May, a week after 19 children were killed in a school shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. “We cannot let the guns debate become so polarized that nothing gets done. We cannot let that happen in our country,” Trudeau said at the time.
The Canadian government said it’s seen a drastic rise in the number of guns in the country over the last decade, with 70% more handguns in Canada than there were in 2010. The gun freeze was implemented as another gun-control bill was working its way through the Canadian parliament — what the government says will be the strongest gun-control measure in more than 40 years.
The bill, introduced in May, proposes revoking firearms licenses for people involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment cases, providing law enforcement with more tools to investigate firearms crimes, and additional measures to prevent gun smuggling and trafficking. Canada has already expanded background checks.
In 2020, 22 people were killed in a mass shooting in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the country’s deadliest mass shooting in recent years. That led to a ban on assault-style firearms and renewed discussions around gun control and access to illegal weapons.
While Canada has sounded the alarm on gun violence, its rate of gun violence is still relatively low compared to its southern neighbor. There are far more mass shootings in the United States: more than 500 and counting in 2022 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
In 2020, 277 people were killed by a firearm in Canada, at a rate of .73 per 100,000 people, according to Canada’s national statistics office. That same year in the United States, more than 19,000 people were killed at the hands of gun violence at a rate of 5.9 per 100,000 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.