New rules would make it illegal to sell, transport, import or use 1,500 varieties of assault weapons. The ban is effective immediately but there will be a two-year amnesty period for law-abiding gun owners to comply.
Trudeau also said he would introduce legislation, which has yet to pass, to offer a buy-back program.
Unlike the US, gun ownership is not enshrined in Canada’s constitution, but gun ownership is still popular, especially in rural parts of the country.
Trudeau made a point of saying that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens, but argued that assault-weapons serve no beneficial purpose as it is used only to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time.
The call to ban assault weapons was heightened after a number of high-profile shootings — in 2017, at a mosque in Quebec, in 2018 on a commercial street in Toronto and most recently, in a rampage across the province of Nova Scotia that became the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history.
RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) have said that the shooter was not licensed to own firearms, but had what appeared to be an assault-style weapon, as well as other guns.
Trudeau campaigned on the ban ahead of last November’s election, and he said he was planning on introducing the ban in March, but it was delayed because of corona virus. The government, had already expanded background checks, and made it tougher to transport handguns. More than 80,000 of these weapons are registered with the RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The ban is controversial politically. A petition against the ban started by Conservative MP Glen Motz in December has more than 175,000 e-signatures.
Many of the weapons used in violent crime in Canada were not obtained legally, and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said Mr Trudeau would do better to focus on stopping guns from coming across the border than on banning law-abiding gun owners, and accused Trudeau of using the shootout to push forward his own political agenda.
On Friday, Mr Trudeau would not confirm whether buy-backs would be voluntary, but reiterated the buy-back program would have to be supported by other parties, and be fair to everyone.