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Nenshi prefers national law on handguns instead of municipal ban

Last Updated Feb 17, 2021 at 7:43 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The federal government has tabled new gun control legislation that would allow municipalities to ban handguns..

However, Calgary’s mayor said he doesn’t plan to do that, at least, not immediately.

If passed, the legislation would let cities restrict the possession, storage, and transportation of handguns effectively banning them through bylaws.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’d prefer to wait to hear the findings and recommendations of the city’s public safety task force before looking into any sort of handgun ban.

“I’ve been on record on this one before as saying that I prefer one law for the country. Even though I generally like municipalities to have more powers, I’ve never been in favour of this approach.”

The task force, led by Councillor George Chahal, should present its findings in the next month and Nenshi said he’ll review that to help make a decision on a possible handgun ban.

“I’ll wait to hear the recommendations of that task force before determining to test council’s will on whether we should take advantage of that or not.”

Meanwhile, the provincial government says its bewildered by the decision to let municipalities rule on handgun bans.

Justice Minister Kaycee Madu argues Ottawa’s new legislation targets law-abiding Canadians, not criminals who he says are recklessly endangering public safety.

Madu added criminals who smuggle guns to use in violent crimes aren’t going to roll over just because a city says it’s banning handguns.

“We know that the overwhelming majority of guns used in committing crimes in Canada are illegally smuggled over the United States border, and we fully support efforts to crack down on smuggled guns,” Madu said in a statement. “We wish Ottawa paid more attention to this very real issue, rather than trying to score cheap political wins.”

When announcing the new legislation Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the measures will be backed up with serious penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate municipal rules.

Many gun-control advocates have pressed for a national handgun ban, warning that leaving it up to municipalities would create an ineffective patchwork of regulations.

The bill would also increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking, and enhance the capacity of police and border officers to keep illegal firearms out of the country.

It would also create new offences for altering the cartridge magazine of a firearm and introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition.

-With files from The Canadian Press