Manitoba critics say handgun ban legislation misses mark

WINNIPEG — The federal government’s municipal handgun ban is not going over well with everyone in Manitoba.

Under the draft legislation, the ban would not be mandatory. Instead, Ottawa would give municipalities the authority to enact a handgun ban using bylaws.

“I expect we’ll take action once the legislation is finalized,” said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

Bowman supports a ban, but would have preferred it on a national or provincial level to guarantee uniformity.

“You know, a more coordinated approach would be more effective,” he said.

In a statement to CTV News, The Association of Manitoba Chiefs of Police said while it will keep an open mind, the announcement may be of limited value.

“Canada currently has significant restrictions and prohibitions on handguns and it is uncertain at this point how municipal bylaws would make the current laws more effective,” the statement reads.

Gun-rights advocates predict this will end up as a constitutional challenge, arguing municipalities shouldn’t be crafting criminal laws normally reserved for the federal government.

Brenden Roemich, president of the Winnipeg Revolver and Pistol Association, says the aim of the bill is off the mark.

“This handgun ban is targeting the wrong people,” he said. “It’s targeting sports shooters and not doing anything to stop the criminal element from getting guns, which are mostly coming across from the (United) States.”

Premier Brian Pallister doesn’t believe such a ban would work.

“I’d support a national program that would provide greater security and respect the rights of honest farmers and hunters and people like that who use their firearms in an appropriate and safe manner,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously said he won’t let resistance from some premiers stop plans for the municipal bans.

The draft legislation also includes a voluntary buy-back program for recently prohibited firearms classified as assault rifles. 

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