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Bigger among group of northern mayors urging Trudeau to reconsider handgun legislation

Legislation puts the onus on municipalities to set their own handgun bylaws
2021-03-17 Handgun findlay creek
The five members of the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) have expressed their concern with the federal government's recently tabled gun legislation. (File)

The five members of the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) — including Mayor Brian Bigger — have expressed their concern with the federal government's recently tabled gun legislation.

The legislation would allow municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation.

Five Northern Ontario mayors have penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expressly asking that the legislation be reconsidered.

"In Northern Ontario alone, there are approximately 145 municipalities. We cannot begin to imagine the complexity the large number of municipalities in our area would create for law enforcement officials," said a letter from the five members of NOLUM.

"On a matter such as handguns, it is clear to us that the Federal Government must own the responsibility for setting the rules."

The five mayors representing NOLUM are Greater Sudbury mayor Brian Bigger, Sault Ste. Marie mayor Christian Provenzano, North Bay mayor Al McDonald, Timmins mayor George Pirie and Thunder Bay mayor Bill Mauro.

"We strongly believe it is important that the Federal Government of Canada put in place legislation ensuring uniformity across the country when it comes to rules related to handguns," said the letter. 

"We urge you to reconsider the patchwork approach of giving municipalities the authority to set by-laws related to the possession, storage and transportation of handguns."

Toronto mayor John Tory has indicated that the council in Canada's largest city has expressed support for a national ban, adding the city looks forward to receiving details from the federal government on how the proposal outlined "would work and what its impact would be on gun violence."

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, citing a recent uptick in gang-related shootings, promptly announced plans to ask city council to use the new powers, should they become law, to implement a handgun ban.

"We see no utility in allowing municipalities to set their own set of bylaws, and in fact, what we do anticipate is confusion and frustration for both law enforcement professionals, handgun owners and others," said the NOLUM letter.

The bill also proposes a buyback of a wide array of recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapons. Owners could turn in their guns for compensation but would also be able to keep them under strict conditions, including registration and secure storage of the firearms in question.

Under the rules, these guns could not be legally used, transported, sold, transferred or bequeathed by individuals in Canada.

The bill would also:

  • Introduce new "red flag" and "yellow flag" laws that would allow people, such as concerned friends or relatives, to apply to the courts for the immediate removal of a person's firearms, or to ask a chief firearms officer to suspend and review an individual's licence to own guns;
  • Target gun smuggling and trafficking by increasing criminal penalties, and by boosting the capacity of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to combat the illegal importation of firearms;
  • Create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine component of a gun and depicting violence in firearms advertising, and;
  • Introduce tighter restrictions on imports of ammunition, and ensure the prohibition of imports, exports, sales and transfers of all replica firearms.