Canada should introduce a total ban on the buying and selling of all handguns, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.
His government is proposing a new law that would freeze private ownership of all short-barrelled firearms.
The legislation would not ban the ownership of handguns outright – but would make it illegal to buy them.
Trudeau’s proposal comes days after a deadly shooting at a Texas primary school, in the neighbouring US, killed 21 people.
The bill, which was presented to Canada’s parliament on Monday, makes it impossible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in the country.
“Other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives,” Trudeau told reporters.
“As we see gun violence continue to rise, it is our duty to keep taking action,” he said.
It marks the most ambitious attempt yet by his government to restrict access to firearms.
The bill would also require rifle magazines to be reconfigured so they can hold no more than five rounds at a time.
And it would take away firearms licences from gun owners involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment.
Unlike in the US, gun ownership is not enshrined in Canada’s constitution, but firearms are still popular, especially in rural parts of the country.
Canada already has stricter rules on gun ownership than its southern neighbour and records fewer firearm incidents every year.
For example, all guns must be kept locked and unloaded and anyone wishing to buy a firearm must undergo extensive background checks.
But there have been calls in recent years to tighten gun legislation there even further, especially following a number of deadly shootings.
In April 2020, a gunman posing as a police officer killed 22 people during a shooting spree in Nova Scotia – the deadliest in Canada’s history.
Within days, Trudeau announced an immediate ban on 1,500 different kinds of military-grade and assault-style weapons.
The new bill would effectively limit the number of legally-owned handguns in Canada to present levels. (BBC)