Justin Trudeau’s gun crackdown sparks a rush to purchase a handgun ahead of the freeze on sales

Gun stores across Canada are reporting booming business, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he was introducing a freeze on all new sales of handguns.

Trudeau on May 30 said he was introducing ‘a national freeze on handgun ownership.’ 

He added: ‘In other words, it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer, or import handguns anywhere in Canada once this Bill becomes law.’

The bill, C-21, needs to be passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, and is expected to become law by fall.

Owners of gun stores are reporting a surge in sales, as customers who have obtained their licenses rush to buy guns before the law is enacted. 

‘We thought there would be a bit of a run on handguns but we didn’t expect this,’ said J.R. Cox, who owns and operates The Shooting Edge ranges in Calgary and Toronto. 

‘All the stores in Calgary were just crazy,’ he told Global News

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, is pictured on Monday at a press conference with Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric. Trudeau last week announced a ban on new sales of handguns, which will come into effect once approved by parliament

Several gun stores in British Columbia province saw lines out the door within hours of Trudeau’s announcement. 

‘You get a lot of people that as soon as they announce new gun control measures, everyone wants to go in and buy a gun,’ said Dan Shemley, warehouse manager of Great North Precision Canada, which sells firearms in Kelowna, B.C.

Shemley, told CBC‘s news show Daybreak South that handgun sales make up roughly 10 to 15 per cent of the store’s business, but the store was now ‘chaotic’ with licensed fire arm operators racing to get what’s left in stock.

Other shops across Canada said they sold out within days.

‘Sales have been brisk,’ said Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in a strip mall on the outskirts of the capital Ottawa, nestled between a barbershop, a Chinese buffet restaurant, and a conservative lawmaker’s constituency office.

‘We sold 100 handguns, or almost our entire stock, in the last three days, since the prime minister announced the freeze,’ she said, showing off her nearly empty handgun cabinet.

Josko Kovic, owner of DoubleTap Sports in Toronto, told AFP the government announcement ‘created a panic, and people are now rushing out to buy handguns.’

‘Almost all stores are sold out, including me,’ he said.

Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in Ottawa, shows a customer a Ruger GP100 Magnum 357 on June 3

Jen Lavigne, co-owner of That Hunting Store in Ottawa, shows a customer a Ruger GP100 Magnum 357 on June 3

Lavigne said that sales of handguns 'have been brisk', and almost her entire stock has gone in three days

Lavigne said that sales of handguns ‘have been brisk’, and almost her entire stock has gone in three days

Rob Hughes purchases a handgun at Wanstall's Hunting & Shooting in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, on May 31

Rob Hughes purchases a handgun at Wanstall’s Hunting & Shooting in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, on May 31

According to government estimates, there are more than one million handguns in Canada, which has a population of 38 million people. 

Some 2,500 stores sell pistols in the country.

At present, a person must have a restricted firearms license in order to purchase a handgun. 

Most also require a special permit to transport them from any location to another, and they must be in secured cases.

Shooting ranges are about the only places where they can be legally fired.

In May 2020, after the murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia, the government introduced regulations banning ownership of about 1,800 models of ‘assault-style’ weapons, among them the AR-15 rifle, which has been used in several mass killings.

The new regulations, unveiled after mass shootings killed 21 people at an elementary school in Texas and 10 at a supermarket in New York state, would prohibit the purchase, sale, transfer and importation of handguns.

Bill C-21 will also see the maximum prison sentence for gun smuggling and trafficking offenses rise to 14 years, from the current 10 years. Importing ammunition will be illegal for anyone except a person with a firearms license.

Those who commit gun crimes would be automatically ineligible to come to Canada.

The bill also proposes to add firearms offenses to the list of those that allow for wiretaps, to better allow for investigations of gun violence.

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