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Canada announces first step of firearm buyback program, targeting industry

Mendicino did not provide further details while announcing the program at a news conference
Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government is working with a national gun industryorganization to figure out how to compensate retailers who own weapons on a list of banned guns, in the first phase of the 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 which was 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 owned any of the guns on the banned list.

Mendicino said there are 11,000 of the banned guns in store inventories, though the association hired to help said they did not know where that number has come 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 remain skeptical that the buyback program will work because there isn’t clear money to fund it nor a clear process to implement it.

Responding to that concern Mendicinio said he knows the debate around firearms is difficult.

“There’s a lot of toxicity when it comes to debating good smart gun policy.”

The minister says 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.”

The second phase of the buyback program would likely 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 battlefield out of our communities.”

—Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Feds ban more than 1,500 assault-style rifles in Canada