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Trudeau orders an immediate freeze on the sale of handguns in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the NATO summit in Hertford, England, on Dec. 4, 2019. On Friday, he announced a national freeze on the sale, purchase, and transfer of handguns.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is placing a nationwide freeze on the sale, purchase and transfer of handguns, effective immediately.

The handgun freeze is the latest in an ongoing battle among Canadian lawmakers over gun control measures. In parliament, legislators are still debating the passage of a bill, introduced in May, that would be one of the strongest pieces of gun control legislation in decades. The new handgun freeze is an "immediate action" the Trudeau administration said it is taking as conversation around the bill continues.

"When people are being killed, when people are being hurt, responsible leadership requires us to act," Trudeau said at a news conference on Friday, announcing the new measure. "Recently again, we have seen too many examples of horrific tragedies involving firearms."

In addition to a ban on handgun sales, it is also now forbidden to bring newly acquired handguns into Canada. The freeze is being met with elation from gun reform groups who welcomed the immediate action.

"Reducing the proliferation of handguns is one important example of the evidence-based measures Canada needs to reduce gun violence and save lives," Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns tweeted in response to the news.

But the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights argues that placing stricter legislation on guns does not decrease gun violence.

Shootings in Canada are on the rise, although the rate of violent deaths by firearms there is still a fraction of those in the U.S. Trudeau began steadily introducing gun reforms after one of Canada's deadliest shootings in history two years ago. The prime minister banned 1,500 models of assault-style firearms and variants of AR-15 rifles in 2020.

"Our goal, over time, is to see the amount of handguns, in our communities, reduced," Trudeau said at Friday's news conference.

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