Government's industry partner says it still questions whether buyback program will work
The federal government is working with a national gun industry organization to figure out how to compensate retailers who own weapons on a list of banned guns — the first phase of a long-promised gun buyback program, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference in Ottawa, Mendicino said the government signed a $700,000 contract with the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association to work with businesses and firearms stores.
"This is a significant milestone," the minister said.
The May 2020 cabinet decision to ban about 1,500 models of firearms came in the wake of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia — the deadliest in modern Canadian history. The government said the weapons on that list are not suitable for hunting.
The Liberals also promised to develop a buyback program to compensate Canadians who own guns on the banned list.
Mendicino said there are 11,000 banned guns in store inventories — although the association hired to help said it did not know where that number came from.
Wes Winkel, president of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, said on Twitter that the group wants to ensure firearms retailers "are informed of their options and receive their full compensation."
Statements posted to the association's Twitter account insist the group is not taking part in the actual buyback program, and is participating to negotiate fair compensation and a simple process. It said they still question whether the buyback program will work because there isn't a clear source of money to fund it nor a clear process to implement it.
Responding to those criticisms, Mendicino said he knows the debate on firearms is difficult.
"There's a lot of toxicity when it comes to debating good, smart gun policy," he said.
Cost and launch date of program not known
Mendicino said the Liberal government will be transparent about the cost of the program, which is expected to begin later this year, but he did not provide further details at the announcement.
"We need to make sure that we get it right," he said.
The second phase of the buyback program likely would expand it to individual firearms owners, who currently have amnesty under an order that is set to expire in October.
"We're going to do everything that we can to launch this program," Mendicino said.
"There are a lot of moving parts, there are a lot of partners that we need to co-ordinate with. And that's our focus right now, is just to keep at it around the clock, so that we can get assault-style firearms which were designed for the battlefield out of our communities."
Program won't make Canada safer: Conservative critic
Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho fired back on Mendicino's announcement, saying the buyback program won't reduce gun violence.
"[I'm] very disappointed with today's announcement because not one single gun will be taken off the streets," Dancho told reporters Wednesday.
WATCH | Conservative MP 'very disappointed' by first phase of gun buyback program
Conservative MP ‘very disappointed’ by first phase of gun buyback program
Conservative MP Raquel Dancho reacts to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s announcement of the first phase of a long-promised gun buyback program. 'Canadians who are looking to Justin Trudeau and Minister Mendicino to improve public safety and stop the murder of police officers and innocent Canadians … will be significantly let down,' she says.
As an alternative to the government's gun control legislation, the Conservatives have called for increased spending and support for law enforcement agencies, including the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), to combat gun violence and smuggling.
"Canada is seeing significant public safety issues, with gangsters getting their hands on illegal firearms, smuggling them in from the United States," Dancho said.
"We know that tens of millions of dollars will be spent on this while our police are being starved of resources and criminals are running rampant on our streets. So, very disappointing in that regard."
With files from the CBC's Richard Raycraft
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca