OTTAWA – Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, issued the following statement:
“As Minister of Public Safety, I am pleased to respond to the Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security entitled A Path Forward: Reducing Gun and Gang Violence in Canada.
The Government agrees in principle with the Report and supports most of its recommendations. We look forward to working closely with the Committee to implement them, and more broadly, to address the ongoing challenge of gun violence and keep Canadians safe.
Indeed, we are already taking significant action on many of the issues raised in the report. This ranges from bolstering support for law enforcement and improving firearm data collection, to introducing sensible gun laws and investing in prevention programming to help those at risk of joining gangs.
Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities. That’s why the Government of Canada is taking action on gun violence with a comprehensive plan that gets guns off our streets and puts more resources into our communities. This plan rests on three pillars: implementing smart policies and laws, supporting law enforcement and adding resources at our borders, and investing in prevention to stop gun crime before it starts.
Our work begins with smart policies and laws. Over two years ago, we banned over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, like the AR-15. This year, we will begin a buyback program to get these weapons of war off our streets once and for all.
Earlier this year, we introduced Bill C-21 – Canada’s most significant legislation on gun violence in a generation. This Bill proposes a national freeze on the sale, purchase, or transfer of handguns by individuals within Canada and on bringing newly acquired firearms into Canada, new “red flag” laws to address the alarming role of guns in intimate partner and gender-based violence, and tougher penalties for firearms smuggling and trafficking. We’ve also strengthened our gun laws to expand background checks and crack down on firearms potentially being sold to those without a valid licence.
Secondly, we’re supporting police and taking action at Canada’s borders. Since 2016, we’ve invested more than $920 million to crack down on gun smuggling, support law enforcement, and work with other orders of government. This includes $312 million to help the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) bolster intelligence and investigative capacity at our borders and increase the RCMP’s ability to trace guns and detect straw purchasing.
The CBSA has also created the National Firearms Intelligence Desk, which enhances their ability to investigate and understand gun trafficking and identify those responsible for it. Federal funding is also helping the RCMP’s Canadian National Firearms Tracing Centre better trace firearms, develop a new national tracing database, establish a national network to detect straw purchasing and improve information sharing.
These investments are working. Thanks to new investments and the great work of RCMP and CBSA officers, we have seen an increase in seizures and arrests. Most importantly, last year marked a record year for gun seizures at Canada’s borders.
Finally, we must prevent gun crime from happening in the first place by addressing its root causes. That’s why the Government is investing in a broad array of initiatives to help young people make good choices and set themselves up for success in life.
Most importantly, in March we launched the $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF.) The BSCF supports local initiatives that prevent gun and gang violence and helps young people make good choices. Its goal is to address the underlying social conditions that give rise to crime, by supporting community-led projects to combat violence among young people who are involved in gangs, or at risk of joining them.
These are just some of the many steps we have taken and are taking that respond to issues raised in the Report. Our response to this report clearly demonstrates our strong commitment to addressing gun and gang violence and building safer communities through practical public health and public safety measures.
Our Government understands that far too many Canadians have been marked by senseless acts of gun violence, and that there remains much work to be done to eradicate gun violence from our communities. We are committed to continuing to work with partners, including all levels of government, law enforcement, and community leaders, on programs and initiatives to respond to the issues raised in the Report and reduce gun and gang violence in Canada.”