Canada withdraws proposed measures banning certain rifles, shotguns

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable

(Reuters) - Canada has withdrawn proposed amendments to gun legislation that would have banned certain types of rifles and shotguns, the government said on Friday, after opponents alleged the prohibitions unfairly targeted farmers and hunters.

The amendments were added to a gun control package that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced last year after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in their elementary school.

The package includes a ban on the sale of handguns and prohibitions on the sale of large-capacity magazines.

"(The) government's intent is to focus on AR-15s and other assault-style weapons - not guns commonly used for hunting," Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement. "(It's) about certain guns that are too dangerous in other contexts."

Mendicino said he was working with colleagues in parliament to find a solution "that will keep assault-style weapons off our streets."

Trudeau enacted the handgun freeze in October under executive order, and in November, his government amended the package to ban certain rifles and shotguns that hold more than five rounds, among other changes.

While most of Trudeau's gun-control measures have been popular among voters in the past, those amendments set off fierce criticism by the Conservative Party, the largest opposition bloc, who described them as an attack on Canadian hunters.

They also drew opposition from the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP). Trudeau's Liberals have a minority in Parliament and they rely on the NDP to pass legislation.

"Hunting rifles are not the problem. No one believes that going after hunters will reduce violent crime across the country," Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre said in a statement after the amendments were withdrawn.

Canada has stricter gun laws than the United States, but Canadians can own firearms with a license. Some firearms must also be registered, though not most long guns: rifles and shotguns.

Canada's gun homicide rate is a fraction of the United States' rate, 2020 data showed, but is still higher than other wealthy countries and has been rising, with handguns the main weapon used in the majority of firearm-related violent crimes between 2009 and 2020.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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