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Canada unveils slightly stricter gun laws

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The Canadian government unveiled slightly stricter gun laws on Tuesday that include enhanced background checks and restrictions on who can own firearms, in response to a spike in gang-related gun crimes.

Checks used to go back only five years but now will look at a person’s entire “life history” before a gun ownership license is issued, according to the draft legislation.

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Persons with a mental illness linked to violence, who have a history of violence or have been convicted of criminal offenses such as harassment or drug trafficking would be prohibited from owning a gun.

Vendors would also be obliged to verify the validity of buyers’ firearm licenses before completing a transaction, and keep a sales record for 20 years — which would be accessible by police authorized by the courts.

The legislation would not add to the current list of restricted or prohibited weapons. Instead it would put the onus on federal police to make decisions on gun classifications in order to remove political interference.

“While Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, increased gun crime has caused too much violence and taken too many lives in communities of all kinds,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement.

“With this legislation and our other measures, we are taking concrete steps to make our country less vulnerable to the scourge of gun violence, while being fair to responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and businesses,” he said.

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The proposed law comes as Canada’s overall crime rate continues to fall, but gun crimes are on the rise.

According to government statistics, the number of crimes involving guns increased 30 percent to 2,465 from 2013 to 2016, while gun homicides (many of them involving gangs) rose by two-thirds to 223.

Most firearms owned by Canadians are non-restricted long guns such as hunting rifles and shotguns.

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For the most part, handguns, semi-automatics or fully automatic firearms are already restricted or prohibited.

Under the new law, two groups of guns (Swiss and Czech assault rifles) that were downgraded by the previous Tory administration in 2015 would be relisted at a higher classification.

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However, owners would be allowed to keep them under a grandfather clause as long as they followed the new classification rules limiting their use to activities such as target practice or as part of a collection.


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Big chain retailers — including Target and Home Depot — beg government to enforce standard mask-wearing nationwide

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In a letter sent to the National Governors Association, an industry group representing many of the largest retailers in the U.S. asked the country's governors to mandate and enforce rules requiring people to wear masks at all times while in public.

With the coronavirus spiking dramatically in some states, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Target and Home Depot among others, sent the letter on Monday, reports CBS News.

One major issue has been the increasing incidence of angry shoppers attacking employees due to non-standardized rules on masks.

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Tech titan chiefs to testify at US antitrust committee

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The US House Committee on the Judiciary on Monday announced that leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will testify during an antitrust investigation hearing.

The hearing, scheduled to take place July 27, comes against a backdrop of growing complaints about tech platforms that have dominated key economic sectors, and calls by some activists and politicians to break up the Silicon Valley giants

Chief executives Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Tim Cook (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Sundar Pichai (Google) will be allowed to appear virtually if they wish, according to a joint statement released by Judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and Antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline.

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New Zealand restricts entry for Kiwis escaping coronavirus

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New Zealand began restricting the return of its own nationals Tuesday as the country faces an accelerating influx of citizens fleeing coronavirus outbreaks overseas and limited quarantine facilities.

National carrier Air New Zealand put a three-week freeze on new bookings and the government is in talks with other airlines to limit capacity, officials said.

New Zealand has gone 67 days without any cases of coronavirus in the community and its 22 active cases are all in managed quarantine facilities for New Zealanders flocking home from worsening epidemics elsewhere.

There are nearly 6,000 people currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine in the facilities and another 3,500 are due to arrive this week.

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