Blair says federal handgun ban not on table for Liberals because of responsible handgun owners
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, September 22, 2019 1:02PM EDT
Liberal candidate and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair says his party's proposed gun regulations stopped short of a national handgun ban because there are many responsible gun owners in the country.
On Friday, the Liberals unveiled a slew of proposals aimed at curbing gun violence that they said they will implement if re-elected.
The measures include a ban on all military-style assault rifles, tougher restrictions around gun ownership for people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others and a commitment to work with cities and provinces to allow some jurisdictions to implement handgun bans if they deem it necessary.
However the Liberals stopped short of promising a federal ban on handguns, a move some activists have called for in light of high rates of gun violence.
Speaking with CP24 Sunday morning, Blair, who most recently served as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, was asked why his party didn't go further with their proposals.
"As I travelled across Canada I met a lot of very responsible handgun owners who are incredibly careful about acquiring the guns legally, storing them securely, and using them responsibly," Blair said.
He said rather than implement a blanket ban on handguns, the Liberals would tighten safe storage laws to make it harder for criminals to steal legal guns.
"The gun that was used in the Danforth tragedy last year was stolen from a gun store in Saskatchewan.
"That gun was being stored inside the store with a metal cable through the trigger frame. Somebody cut the cable and walked out with 25 guns. One of them ended up in Toronto. Those guns should be in a vault."
He said the proposed Liberal measures would require that everyone who owns a handgun would have to keep it in a safe or a vault, depending on the weapon and the number of weapons that they have.
He said the proposals would also give cities like Toronto more control over restricting handguns.
"In the city of Toronto, we want to make sure that if they say 'guns shouldn't be stored in a private residence, perhaps they should be stored only at the facility where they can be used – the range for example – the city of Toronto would be able to do that.
"That rule wouldn't work in a place like Whitehorse or Kenora or Red Deer. So we want to work with individual cities and communities and mayors like Mayor Tory to address the legitimate and serious concerns that cities have about gun violence in their communities."
Mayor John Tory has said he sees the proposals as a "step in the right direction."
However it's not clear to what extent the federal government would be able to grant cities the ability to restrict weapons without the blessing of the province, which has wide jurisdiction over municipalities. Premier Doug Ford has previously said that he is not in favour of a ban on handguns.
Trudeau committed to social equity: Blair
Blair was also asked about the recent brownface and blackface scandal surrounding Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and how the campaign is trying to pivot away from the scandal.
"I've worked with Justin Trudeau for the last four years. I don't know a man more committed to social equity, to equality, to fighting racism and to promoting the diversity of this country," Blair said. "I think the events of the last few days just deepens our resolve to do better. We're going to continue to work hard to end institutional racism, to fight racism and to make Canada a country that is fair and equitable to all."